New rule: No linking to the N&O at BlueNC

Effective immediately and until further notice, no links to the pages of the News and Observer will be allowed at BlueNC. If you feel compelled to comment on N&O stories or editorial coverage, find a way to do it without links. Or even better, direct BlueNC readers to other news outlets instead.

The N&O is a decent source of information much of the time. But far too often, the newspaper also serves as a soapbox for Art Pope's minions, as it did today with a guest column by Pope's bully-in-chief, Dallas Woodhouse. And that, dear readers, is something I cannot stomach. I will not allow BlueNC to be complicit in feeding the coffers of an organization that enables such unfettered access to free-market apologists.



Today I also removed the N&O from my bookmark toolbar. When I've done that with other news sources over the years, they effectively disappear from my world. I'm sure no one at the paper gives a shit about our 5000 readers each week ... and I can only hope that our 5000 weekly readers soon return the favor to the N&O.


For a libertarian group, AFP sure seems to be in the business of eliminating local decisions and "protecting" local residents by adding MORE regulation by the all-knowing geniuses in Raleigh. Who knows better what local conditions and needs are- local government or the bought-and-paid-for goons from both parties in our Legislature?

"Free Market" fundamentalism especially fails when the "free market" chooses not to provide an essential product or service.

This was one of the more hypocritical and useless columns, even by Pope standards, that I have seen in some time.

And yes, I pay for the print edition of the N&O as they're still the best option out there for news.

Big difference: Articles vs. Journalism

The N&O may be a big source of "political articles" but it sure isn't a big source of journalism.

Link to the bills, folks. Use the NCGA web site ( and related web sites like the Fiscal Research Division.

Trust me, you'll be teaching the "reporters" that read this site where to find actual sources of fact.



I'll have to think that through ... it's a dilemma. By linking, I feel we're contributing to Art Pope's business model, delivering eyeballs that get monetized regardless of substance.

I stopped linking to the Show a few years ago, having discovered that BlueNC was (at the time) a leading driver of traffic to their sites.

Been thinking about this a lot

The only thing they might be paying for outright is Little Rickie's op-ed writing. Newspapers pay regular columnists ... heck, even I used to get paid a token amount when I wrote columns for the Chapel Hill News.

Beyond that, it's gotta be purely Pope-subsidized. Which is not to say Pope doesn't get his money's worth. The boys at the Show have to feel pretty darn good about having the N&O's pages as their personal propaganda playground.

It's not just this one article

One of the main (stated) goals of Civitas/JLF is media penetration. To that end, and taking advantage of shrinking newspaper revenues, they actually pay the N&O a healthy monthly amount to get their tripe published.

Back in the old days, subsidized articles like that would come with some sort of disclosure, so the readers would know they were reading the equivalent of a "paid advertisement", and take the content with a grain of salt. Those days are over, and now we don't know who's paying for what.

Just a note: I am solidly on the side of the N&O and others in their fight for open government and access to public records. By the same token, a little more "openness" on the part of the paper would be a welcome development. The N&O should publish its revenue numbers (who and how much), at least those dollars that relate to content (vs ads). While there might not be a law that requires it, integrity begs for it.

Subsidized articles?

Where are subsidized articles to which you refer published?
I'm confused.
Are you telling me that some of their op ed pieces are actually paid space?


Understand, the N&O is not the only NC paper that does this, and the Puppetshow isn't the only organization that pays to get published. Some on the left do it also. I got that straight from the mouth (keyboard, whatever) of the N&R's Op-Ed Editor.

The actual details of the transactions (Which articles? How much money? Blanket deal?) are elusive, and will probably stay that way.

The Mountaineer in Waynesville

...routinely publishes columns by the Hood fellow and this NCSU economics shill, although the Mountaineer identifies him only by his NCSU credentials, with no mention of his affiliation with "the show."

In any event, it seems to me that newspapers owe their readers the benefit of information that space for these columns has been paid for by organization or another. Is there sufficient detail to submit a "letter to the editor" documenting this practice and asking for change???


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Well, considering the editorial staff,

with likely feedback from attorneys, would be the ones to decide whether or not to print the LTE, I don't have a high level of confidence it would ever get published. But you never know.

As far as having "sufficient detail", I would imagine the more details you present, the less likely the LTE would get published. But that could just be the little conspiracy theorist perched on my shoulder whispering paranoid delusions into my ear that leads me to imagine that. ;)

I'm not sure they pay

Pope spends $15 million a year to buy influence, but I don't think the N&O gets actual payments ... it's more like money laundering. Pope pays the "experts" to write op-ed pieces that the N&O gladly publishes because, according to Drescher, they are insightful, good thinking. I guess if you call lying and intellectual dishonesty "insightful" ... then the Show propaganda would definitely qualify.

N&O mission statement

Customer Service
The staff of The News & Observer believes in the indispensable role of journalism to inform, engage and empower readers. We are committed to combining the best newspaper traditions with constant innovations, and we pursue our work with these aims in mind:

* To meet the highest standards of accuracy, balance, fairness and depth.
* To serve the public interest as a watchdog over those with power and a champion of those without it.
* To promote public debate over the future of this region and state.
* To build a dedicated and diverse newsroom that thrives on trust, creativity and mutual support.

Watchdog over those with power? I wonder how they square that one.

Inside the N&O

As a former N&Oer, I can offer this much information:

-- John Drescher has zero say in editorials and op-eds. The news side and editorial really are separate, and he's on the news side. In that role, Drescher does have some say in what sources reporters use for their stories.

-- I'd be surprised if the N&O is accepting payment for placement of any op-eds. Since I've left the paper in 2005, I've written an op-ed piece and a book review for the N&O. I was paid nothing for the op-ed, and I paid nothing for it to be published. I was offered a small amount of money for the book review but declined it given the paper's tiny budget for free-lance reviews.

If you have an idea for an op-ed piece, pitch it to the editorial page editors, Steve Ford and Jim Jenkins. Describe why you think the topic is important and how you'd approach it. Here's the page on the website with their contact information:

I would hope that the N&O is interested in local voices of all types rather than syndicated columnists that are available elsewhere.

Thanks for the insights

Good information, much appreciated.

I'll leave the link in place for those who want to take a swing.

Thanks, Andy

As I mentioned before, I had an online discussion with an editorial page editor from another large circulation paper, and (being the stand-up guy that he is) he admitted they did, on occasion, accept payments from both left and right orgs to publish OpEd pieces.

It may be an assumption on my part that the N&O would operate in a similar fashion, but it's not a huge assumption, in my mind.

Cutting off arm to spite thumb

The NO is in Raleigh, the seat of government and by default a paper of record (ugh). It is hard enough to keep up with whats up without it, regardless how I personally feel about it (double ugh). I seriously doubt that blueNC is driving significant traffic to the NO. I personally make my mind blank and visit the Locke and Civitas sites every couple of days (and I really hate those), driven by nothing I read elsewhere, only by a curiosity about what those assholes and idiots are up to. Same for conservative websites. For all the antipathy I feel for conservatives and tea party trolls, it is totally amazing just what hatred and vitriol lines their pages.



More like trimming a fingernail

After a few days, I've found it rather easy to keep up with what's going on in state government.

Mark Binker

Laura Leslie
Charlotte Observer (needs to refresh "politics" page more often)
News 14
NC Policy Watch
Carolina Public Press

Whether BlueNC drives significant traffic to the N&O is not the question on my mind. I'm personally paying for this platform and I don't want it used to support a news organization that consistently gives the Show such unfettered access.

Are you taking about advertising?

Can you give more details?

What are you talking about?

Will people still post criticism of N&O articles here if they can't link to them?

Good point

Hadn't fully thought through the need to be watching the watch dog. Hmmmmmm. This is a sticky wicket.

I'm not sure how else to manage my frustration with the presence of Rick Martinez' column on the N&O editorial pages, topped off by a guest column funded by Americans for Prosperity. Martinez' wife, Donna, is an employee of the John Locke Foundation, and Rick is an executive at WPTF-AM. They are part of Art Pope's glittery information manufacturing machine.

I am a self-confessed conspiracy theorist in regard to the insidious creep of right wing propoganda into our intellectual food chain. I don't like the N&O being a part of the problem, especially since they don't acknowledge that reality.

I'm torn about this.