Good morning, Lisa!

Lisa Sorg is the new editor of the Independent Weekly, where she began as a staff writer in September 2006. She previously served as editor at two alternative newsweeklies: most recently, at the San Antonio Current and from 1999-2001 at the Bloomington (Ind.) Independent. Lisa has won more than a dozen awards for her work, including public interest, criminal justice, investigative and feature reporting.

Originally from Mechanicsburg, Ind., population 200 people and 400 cows, she now lives in Durham with her husband and cats.

For those of you outside of the Triangle, The Independent is one of the all-time great newspapers in North Carolina and beyond. The writing is smart and tight and progressive, and it is very big deal for someone new to be named editor. I hope you'll be around on Friday morning to meet Lisa. We'll get cranking around 8 am, so grab a cup of coffee and join the fun!


Comments

I hate starting at 8am....

I have to take the kids to school and don't get to a bloggable location until 9ish.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Here's one question I have . . .

Lisa . . . do you have any specific advice for those of us who find ourselves spending WAY too much time watching the so-called watchdogs in the mainstream media?

You've been around for awhile. Any thoughts about whether the big dailies are making progress, falling behind, or barely treading water?

watchdogs in the mainstream media

In general, I think the big dailies are barely treading water, although there are many that still seem reluctant to buck the status quo, particularly when it comes to the Bush administration. Now that it's safer to criticize the administration, we're seeing more critical stories, but I find the dailies still tend to be followers, not leaders. There are a few exceptions. I did enjoy the Washington Post's in-depth series on VP Dick Cheney.
Advice for you watchdogs of the watchdogs? (I guess that makes you meta-watchdogs?) Drink a lot of coffee and buy an ergonomic chair, because you'll be at it the rest of your lives. Seriously though, the press' job is to keep the politicians honest and the public's job is to keep the press honest. And that goes for mainstream media or alt-weeklies or blogs--whatever outlet is disseminating information that claims to be pursuing the truth.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Good morning, Lisa

Thanks for stopping by! As to this:

Seriously though, the press' job is to keep the politicians honest and the public's job is to keep the press honest.

What is your preferred method for people like us contacting you about one of your articles or one we'd like to see you write?

For those who can't join . . .

Drop your questions off here . . . I'll update this post first thing in the morning.

clay aiken spoof

Fortunately, satire is protected as a form of free speech under the First Amendment. That said, satire can't be libelous. But to answer your question, we didn't need Mr. Aiken's permission to spoof him.
Re: the crisis, hmm, which one are you referring to?
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Sneaking in early, I see :)

Good! And thanks for agreeing to do this.

(I was on an advisory board to the Indy a zillion years ago . . . and am so happy to see the paper going strong.)

Q: What happened to your predecessor?

The Indy celebrates its 25th

The Indy celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. There are several events planned throughout 2008. The paper is older than some of our writers. :)
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

I don't know what Richard is

I don't know what Richard is up to these days; I saw him from afar at the Piedmont last week eating lunch and chatting with someone. As for his departure, I'm sure he can tell you more, but after he spent five years in the pressure cooker of being an editor, I can't blame him for wanting a break. You lose a lot of sleep in this job.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

newspaper crisis

The declining circulation due to easy (and free) availability of news via the internet and cable. Not to mention increased expense to deliver print media.

It seems that the strategy of a lot of newspapers is to become more like the internet and cable, that is, loud, opinionated, shoot from the hip, and print first, check facts later (if at all).

Regardless of if one agrees that the quality of print news has gone down, the decline in revenue is universal. Every newspaper in the state has decreased the number of experienced reporters in the field.

Perhaps the free weeklies are an exception to this?

- - - - -
Learn More about Mr. Leslie Merritt, Toady Extraordinaire
NCDP Photos

I agree with you in that

I agree with you in that some newspapers think that shouting at people is the best way to get a point across. Also, the pressure of delivering news quickly--even more quickly than the 6:00 news or tomorrow's paper--can result in shoddy reporting and writing.
I don't think free weeklies are an exception to most media trends. Free weeklies have to fight to keep their circulation numbers up, keep younger readers coming in to the fold, etc. Will newspapers die? Probably not soon, but I think you'll see more and more content go to the web, mobile phones, etc. I don't fear that. If newspapers can make enough money online to adequately pay professional journalists to do their job (which now includes audio/video as well as standard pencil/paper newsgathering), then let's quit killing trees and make the jump.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Move to web news

When you take the physical costs out (print/distribution) and can focus on the content and flexibility of delivery on the Internet, it really can be a win in terms of cost, timeliness, and of course environmental impact.

As a matter of fact, living in Fuquay Varina, I read the Indy online every week - save paper and saves a trip.

Thanks for blogging with us!

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

---
Ed Ridpath
www.EdRidpath.com

At the same web conference I

At the same web conference I referenced, UNC prof Philip Meyer talked about how much overhead could be saved if newspapers went online. That money could then be invested in staffing, etc. Of course, circulation directors would need to be retrained for online work so as to keep their jobs. But printing costs and delivering the paper are a huge chunk of a newspaper's expenses. Conversely, an RSS feed is like having a paper carrier throwing today's news on your front porch--every hour.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Welcome Lisa!

I'll be in and out tomorrow and look forward to reading your opinions.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

I'll be here.....

I'm really excited about chatting with Lisa. I don't leave to walk until 9am. Finally, a live-blog that works for my schedule. :)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Circulation?

We're so excited by our 5000 visitors a week . . . and you certainly trump that at Indy Week.

What are the trends?

Overall circulation trends

Overall circulation trends at dailies are down. there are a few holding on, staying steady. Alt-weeklies are staying steady, and some even increasing, in part because they're free. You also don't have the overhead of a department selling subscriptions. However, the internet is cutting in to print circulation, but if the online numbers compensate, I don't think there's much to worry about--unless you own a printing press. I still love holding a newspaper in my hand and reading it, but I love the web. I also have about 3,000 LPs, but I love my iPod.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

I love holding newspapers and magazines

The strange thing is that different stories catch my eye in the print and online editions. I need to read the paper both ways I guess to get the most out of it. I'm odd that way.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

You're absolutely right.

You're absolutely right. Even web headlines are written differently than print ones. Also, there are times when I don't feel I've "read the entire paper" when I read online. I don't know if I've drilled down far enough or if I'm missing something. I feel that way the most about the Sunday NYT. That can take several days to read in print, but I can plow through it in an hour-90 minutes online. I must be missing something.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Duke - Durham

Any thoughts on "the great divide" . . . ?

There is a divide, that's

There is a divide, that's for sure. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana for 17 years, although the town-gown relationship there was more akin to Chapel Hill-UNC. While that relationship can be tense, those are still public universities. I think what I've noticed with Duke/Durham is there is such a socio-economic divide. The annual tuition at Duke is more than a lot of Durhamites earn working full-time.
There are committees and programs to try to bridge that gap, but in my daily running around, unless I'm near campus, I don't encounter many Duke students.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

one disturbing note

I was at a web journalism conference several weeks ago at which someone from WRAL gave a presentation. Apparently when we had our first snowfall earlier this year, WRAL posted a video (or maybe it was a live stream) of the snow. That page received 7 million hits. To watch snow. I found that a bit bizarre. Maybe a hurricane or a tsumani, but snow? Perhaps with global warming people were thinking it could be the last time they'd see it.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa, welcome to BlueNC

Thank you for stopping by.

One of the things we've tried to do is diversify our audience - or at least bring diverse opinions in from other blogs. The trend in political blogs is that the audience tends to run 80 - 85% male and 90 - 95% white. We're actively working to make BlueNC more welcoming to a more diverse group of people.

Are we just banging our heads against the rocks? Should we just let it be what it's going to be? Are publications like The Independent proactive in appealing to a diverse group?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

It is hard to diversify,

It is hard to diversify, particularly on the web, because computers and broadband connections are largely middle- and upper-class luxuries. If you've tried surfing the web at the library, there's a time limit and also privacy concerns. So economically, it can be tough to reach people who don't have access. That's a problem. Along those lines, if you're reading this at work right now, then you're probably not working construction in downtown Raleigh.
As for the Indy's work on diversifying our readership, we're trying to put a more diverse group of people on the front, for example. More African-Americans, more women. And that goes for the inside as well. Our sources, not just the subjects of our stories, also need to be diverse. People want to see and read about other people like themselves. If they're all white men you're talking to, then that's who'll you be attracting. Not saying that you are at BlueNC, just something that everyone has to be aware of in the media.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Thank you, Lisa

That's pretty much what we're doing, the best way we can. We are an all-volunteer force and we don't always get it right, but I know many of us are out looking for different voices when we research our pieces.

Thank you.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

As part of the "new media"

What is the worst mistake we could make here at BlueNC?

(I hope it is one we haven't already made.)

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

the worst mistake? hmm, i

the worst mistake? hmm, i think getting facts wrong is one (not saying you have), because the web is so viral that an error can spread quickly and it's hard to reel it back in. i think the worst mistakes you could make are the same ones any media outlet could make: libel, inaccuracy, misrepresentation. mistakes happen. (or shall we say, "mistakes are made"), but we in the media have to realize our words can harm people. some people need to be called out for their waywardness, but we need to be sure we're doing it with facts, not rumor or conjecture.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

I'm trying to be kind :) I

I'm trying to be kind :)
I am pretty cynical, actually. My husband and I snarl at CNN nightly because of all the political dog-and-pony shows paraded across our tv screen.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Indy blogs

Way back when, I used to enjoy talking with Kirk Ross about blogs in general - and Indy Blogs in particular. How's all that going?

In my experience it's almost a full-time job getting a blog up and running . . . keeping things fresh and pouring new content in continuously. I currently spend 4-5 hours a day minding the shop here. That seems like an untenable approach for businesses that are actually trying to make money.

Re: Indy blogs, I know Bob

Re: Indy blogs, I know Bob Geary is revving up Citizen again. We also had an American Dance Festival blog and Grayson Currin runs the Scan music blog. I think there will be more in the future because we're chatty people. The thing we have to be careful of is that blogs can be a time sink. It's so much easier to get online and bloviate (like I'm doing now) than get out of the office and do reporting, or work on polishing some copy, etc. Hours go by and before you know it you've missed your deadline.
It is a full-time job to do it right, and that's the rub: you need to make money from it to hire people and a staff. The web is making more money for people, but with a few exceptions, not enough to have a staff of 10 reporters and section editors, like the Indy does.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

diversity

on the topic of diversity, it's also important to be culturally sensitive. for example, we see a lot of stereotypes of poor, downtrodden Latinos. Stories tend to either romanticize or exoticize them. which isn't to say that their stories of hardship don't need told, but it is to say that there is more nuance to those stories than is often expressed.
we in the media tend to want to put people in tidy little packages. yet people are multi-dimensional; they don't fit in those packages.

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Tidy little packages are just so much easier

and you're absolutely right. We shouldn't be that lazy and I know we probably all have been at some time or another. Some writers do it as an intentional means to harm a group. Others of us do it unintentionally. I guess there is still harm done, though.



***************************
Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Where are you right now?

I'm at home . . . and I just wrapped up an international conference call . . . while also checking email . . . and lobbing in some questions for you.

Are you a hard-core multi-tasker?

How much actual writing do you get to do in your new job?

Wait, I need to take this

Wait, I need to take this call, drink my coffee and check my email before I answer your question.
I am a major multi-tasker, although i'm not sure should be proud of that. i have to keep it in check because i think i sometimes get less done by working that way. focus is very important in my job and sometimes it's hard to block out all the distractions and concentrate on editing, writing, etc.
actual writing? at my previous editorship, i wrote about 1500 words a week, which was insane. i write every week at the Indy, not just an editorial, but short news and next week i'll have a music piece. i have a couple cover stories coming up too. it's not traditionally what editors do--write this much--but i would miss it if i didn't. with that said, it means much longer hours for me and it places a lot of demands on how i structure my time.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Hey Lisa

Hey Lisa,
Thanks for visiting Bluesville. My two cents:
The Web site's getting a bit cluttered and the search engine is still not the best (maybe just build a google search alternative into it).
I like the fact that there's more news and political happenings in the paper, but I find the gimmickry of heros and zeros and zork and all that off-putting.
Maybe time to freshen that up a bit.

Kirk Ross
BHSN '77

Ha! For those of you on

Ha! For those of you on BlueNC, Kirk Ross should disclose that he and I have formed a secret pact for former Hoosiers to take over all media in the Triangle. He and I are both former Bloomingtonians and worked together at the daily there.
Anwyay, to answer your question, the website is undergoing a redesign right now. it should be up sometime in october. as for heroes and zeros and zork-- we've put zork back on mars for the time being to allow more room for news. we as a staff regularly discuss the content of the paper; so far, the consensus has been we need h/z because it allows us to weigh in on topics. however, i think the important thing about the news section is that it be dynamic and flexible.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Moderator's note:

Just to give you all a heads-up . . . we'll likely lose Lisa around 9. She's a busy woman and I promised her we wouldn't hold her more than an hour.

So let me use this comment to thank you, Lisa. For visiting with us, and for all the great work you're doing at the Independent. It's been nice getting to know you.

James

PS Please feel free to circle back later in the day. We sometime have comments and questions trickling in for hours, or even weeks. And don't hesitate to use BlueNC for shameless self-promotion. I know our readers are interested in Indy stories, but sometimes don't have time to track them down. Our house is your house.

Thanks again.

Thanks so much for the

Thanks so much for the invite. Your house is quite lovely.
It's been enjoyable interacting with people this way.
And even better, now I can use BlueNC for shameless self-promotion. We have our first endorsements issue coming up 9/26, so you can see which candidates get our stamp of approval. It will cover several Wake County and Durham County races for the October election.
Then 10/24 will be the endorsements for the November contests.
Best to all,
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Heh

People should also know that you've got a strong background in covering arts and music, which is IMHO one of the key missions of the Indy.
Also, you worked on youth and teen issues. This is a part of the Triangle that really doesn't get covered much.

kmr

Thanks Lisa

Good to see you embrace the blogosphere. Last campaign season, the Southern Dem (Betsy) implemented a program here at the blue of interviewing candidates across the state. Some of these candidates even participated. Will the Indy consider doing the same?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

I'm sure we would consider

I'm sure we would consider it. 2008 is such a huge election year that we'll be starting coverage well before filing and plugging away the entire year.
Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly

Lisa Sorg
Editor, Independent Weekly