We take as a fact that the News & Observer is not the best paper in the world: it might not get the facts right all the time, they may not be particularly insightful, they may not be able to analyze national politics, and have a tendency to pander to the right. But I never thought that the N&O would take the precious resources that are left to them after the buyout and try to become a tabloid for UNC (not that I could pick a better school to be a tabloid for). This week it looks like they have.
The incident was this: A UNC male student staged what at first appears to be a singing valentine to his girlfriend (a NC State student) in the Pit at UNC [the Pit is the main student hang-out during the day on UNC's campus, being next to the library, the gym, some classrooms, and most importantly the food court]. With cameras rolling and a crowd formed, the singing started and then after the singing there was a vicious breakup, complete with F-bombs, personal attacks, and derisive comments on the promiscuity of women at NC State. Problem is that the incident was clearly staged and there is good liklihood that the entire scene was faked. (if you want to watch just search "Pit breakup" in YouTube; I do not want to sully our frontpage with this stuff).
So how does a possibly fake college breakup become a priority for the N&O, apparently taking up the attention span of some journalists for at least three days? I do not know but lets look at how the N&O covered this like a glove:
1) The N&O decides to go gossip column early and posts a story on the incident Wednesday, complete with interviews of the (apparently) unhappy couple!
2) To get an even more in-depth story detailing the lives of the couple, they embarked on a search for friends of the couple.
3) Then they published a letter to the editor about the incident (still on Wednesday).
4) Then not getting their fill, they published another letter to the editor on Thursday.
5) Not having enough, on Friday there was a second blog post to follow-up on the incident.
And I cringe to open today's paper as there has been at least one threat that the N&O will follow-up again on the story.
Next time that the N&O relegates a political story to a corner of the paper or fails to print your letter to the editor, remember that the space is being valuably used to cover a fake breakup between college students, because that is news. I remember when I was in college; I never bothered to learn the names of friend's girlfriends because they would be gone in a week or two (isn't that the point of college). Of course the N&O sees how insane this might seem and hedges their bet by making claims (quotes follow below) such as even if it was fake, the crowd was real; even it was fake, there are real people in these relationships; and we were covering the fact that people were watching and not the event itself [the all-time journalist cover: I am not the voyeur, I am just writing about people who are]. But the cover is not enough; the fact remains that the N&O covered a (probably) fake breakup between college students. Bravo! Now just submit your application to Teen Beat and you can cover messing breakups all day long.
I really have no conclusion about this: it is just sad that grown adults who have space and opportunity to affect our area would be more concerned about being an undergraduate gossip.
Quotes justifying the expense of time on this garbage:
I am aware that there are allegations the incident was staged. The idea that this was premeditated is even more upsetting.
I wonder why the audience, men and women both, found it entertaining to witness the public humiliation of a woman. I wonder why the audience, men and women both, found it appropriate to chant "slut, slut, slut" while they were shaking their fists at the woman involved. I wonder why shouts of "slap her" were met with enthusiasm instead of outrage. I wonder how anyone is supposed to feel safe on a campus where this is seen as an acceptable activity.
For the record, there was never any indication that actual violence was going to occur. This is an alarmist statement.
The "Pit breakup," real or staged, holds important implications for the values and atmosphere at Carolina.
What? Does the play Grease, which is currently being performed at a local college hold "important implications" of that college's values? I guess that we are going to see a lot of sock hops and drag races now that the values are shaped by Grease.
Though there is a place for humor on campus, the nature of this event minimizes the reality of the abuse inherent in the incident and models destructive ways of dealing with relationships.
Abuse inherent in the incident? No one was touched, the woman gave as much as she got, if not more. And this was a breakup, I would think that the intent was to be destructive.
Of course, from an educational perspective, whether it was staged or not is irrelevant. Other people seemed to find it amusing. Others were as horrified as I was.
I cannot grasp this statement. The first sentence seems to be a non sequitor to the last two. The first one is conclusory, the next two just state that some people laughed (at something that was not all that funny) and others were horrified (and need to get a life).
It used to be couples broke up quietly over dinner, over the phone, via e-mail, via text message.
But in the age of cell phone cameras and the video-sharing site YouTube, a breakup at UNC-Chapel Hill has played out before thousands: 160,000 as of Tuesday and counting.
So the story is the number of people who have tuned into the breakup? Why then the interview with the couple?