Indy Week cover

There have been more arrivals and departures at Indy Week, including the addition of a veteran former News & Observer reporter.

Lauren Horsch left the Herald-Sun in August to become Indy Week’s Durham reporter. She didn’t stay long, leaving in November after only a little more than three months to join NC Insider as a N.C. General Assembly reporter. The McClatchy Company owns Insider, and her work has appeared in The N&O.

She didn’t want to discuss her time at Indy Week.

“I like that it’s a challenge for me,” Horsch said of her move. “I loved covering both Durham city and county, but I think I needed a new beat and a new challenge to become a better reporter and journalist. I also really enjoy focusing in on just one aspect of government in North Carolina instead of being pulled in multiple directions every single day.”

This is a month of shuffling for Indy Week’s Raleigh coverage.

On Jan. 13, the alt-weekly let go Paul Blest, who had been its Raleigh reporter since March.

Jeffrey Billman, Indy Week’s editor, said that he couldn’t talk about Blest’s departure. He said that he hasn’t announced Horsch’s replacement as Durham reporter, but said that someone would probably be starting in that position next month.

“I’m appreciative of the chance that the Indy gave me and I’m proud of the work I and others did there, and that others will continue to do there,” Blest said. “Always will be thankful for that.”

Blest, who had been expected to shift to the Durham beat, took over the Raleigh beat Billman previously held before he became the newspaper’s editor in August 2015.

Earlier this month, former ThinkProgress investigative reporter Erica Hellerstein joined Indy Week as a Raleigh reporter. Hellerstein won the 2014 Felker Award for Excellence in Long Form Print Journalism and has a master’s degree in journalism from Cal-Berkeley.

On Jan. 31, veteran journalist Tommy Goldsmith joins Indy Week and also will report about Raleigh.

Goldsmith spent 13 years at The N&O, and was Wake County editor before he took a buyout in May along with Linda Williams, a senior editor, and Bruce Siceloff, its transportation reporter.

“I look forward to joining Indy Week,” Goldsmith said. “I’ve had good conversations with Jeffrey and [News Editor] Ken [Fine]. My job is to cover Raleigh, which is basically my hometown and a place that I care a lot about, so it will be an adventure.”

Since taking the buyout, Goldsmith has been a contributing writer for North Carolina Health News, covering rural health and aging issues. Another reporter for that online news outlet is Catherine Clabby, who was an N&O reporter from 1994–2007.

The cover story in the current Indy Week is a nice feature on fiddler David McKnight. Unfortuately, the former newspaper reporter died of a brain tumor Tuesday. This news broke between the newspaper’s deadline and when this week’s issue was printed.

Former N&O staffer WRAL’s first digital producer

Jill Knight has left The N&O, where she was a staff photographer and social media specialist for nearly 3½ years, to become a new media digital producer at WRAL. Her last day at The N&O was Wednesday and her first day at WRAL was Thursday.

“We’re very excited to add Jill to our digital team,” said Shelley Leslie, WRAL’s creative director. “She’s a powerful storyteller. As our first digital producer, she will be producing unique, original daily content and developing new forms of storytelling for our web, mobile and social audiences.”

This new WRAL position reports to both the television and online side, and Leslie says that Knight will be WRAL’s first “hybrid producer.” Her work will appear on, mobile apps, social media channels and OTT platforms.

“I have loved every single minute that I’ve spent at The News & Observer, but the resources available at WRAL and the opportunity were just unbelievable,” Knight said.

She expects to produce short, concise videos that look different than what might appear on a TV newscast.

“It’s the raw story and it’s letting the viewer decide for themselves what they want to think about it,” Knight said.

Herald-Sun’s paywall comes down

The Herald-Sun put up a hard paywall in August 2015, meaning that only subscribers could read stories on its website. There is no word about how the move, made while Paxton Media Group still owned the newspaper, affected web traffic. Activity tanked at some newspapers that tried this method.

Now under ownership of McClatchy, which took control Dec. 26, management took down the paywall during the wintry weather earlier this month. John Drescher, the executive editor of The N&O, said they decided to keep it down.

For now, there isn’t even a metered paywall (which only allows non-subscribers to read a certain number of stories per month).

The Herald-Sun will emphasize digital more than it has in the past,” Drescher said. “We want Herald-Sun readers to get accustomed to going to for news and video. Eventually, we’ll decide if will have a metered paywall. But, for now, we’re working to improve the site and to attract readers to it.”

The website is expected to relaunch with the McClatchy template this spring.

N&O deadlines shifting earlier

It seems likely that print-edition deadlines at both The Herald-Sun and The N&O will move earlier once both newspapers are printed at McClatchy’s Garner facility. The Durham newspaper still is printed at Paxton Media Group’s press facility at the High Point Enterprise, and no date for the shift has been set, Drescher said.

Ahead of whatever additional adjustments that will require, a change is expected to take effect at The N&O next week, with the first-edition deadline to typeset N&O pages moving from 8:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. That means stories have to be filed even earlier if they are going to make the first edition.

Because of early deadlines, game reports of high school sports rarely make The N&O’s print edition the next day. Outside of the Holiday Invitational, no high school basketball game stories have made the next day’s print edition this season. Wednesday’s paper had no high school basketball results from a typically heavy Tuesday schedule, and Saturday’s paper only had late results (and no stories) from Thursday.

In contrast, The Herald-Sun had byline stories from high school basketball games in Saturday’s newspaper and in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s not clear whether The Herald-Sun will have that flexibility once its printing moves to Garner.

In most cases, The N&O updates pages for later editions to include Carolina Hurricanes and ACC game stories and columns, at least for the final edition.

That didn’t happen for Coach Roy Williams’ 800th career victory, which came with UNC’s win over Syracuse in a game that started at 7 p.m. Monday. Drescher said that this was not because of early deadlines.

“That was a miscommunication,” he said. “We should have had a UNC-Syracuse game story in most copies of [Tuesday’s] print paper.”

In a column published on The N&O‘s website Friday afternoon, Drescher talks about how the newspaper is putting less emphasis on the game story and also explains why some staples move around from one section to another.

Staff for Cary bureau shifts to Raleigh

The N&O closed the office for one of the five bureaus for its twice-weekly community newspapers. Staffers for The Cary News and Southwest Wake News, who formerly worked out of an office on Chatham Street in Cary, now are based at the main N&O offices on McDowell Street in Raleigh.

Drescher says that he expects that the bureau for the The Durham News and The Chapel Hill News eventually will move from its Franklin Street office in Chapel Hill to The Herald-Sun’s office at the BB&T bank building near Northgate Mall in Durham.

“That move is not imminent,” he said. “We have a lease agreement in Chapel Hill, and there are other details to work out, including that there are advertising reps who work out of our Chapel Hill office.”

Herald-Sun desk work stays in Kentucky until spring

In order for The Herald-Sun’s copy editing and design work to shift from the Paxton Media Group’s hub in Owensboro, Ky., to McClatchy News Desk East in Charlotte, CCI NewsGate must be installed on its computers and the staff needs to be trained.

That isn’t expected to happen until the spring and no date has been set for the Charlotte desk to take over that work, Drescher said.

Burlington newspaper to be printed in Fayetteville

The Times-News of Burlington has always been printed on-site, but that will change March 21 when printing shifts to facilities at the Fayetteville Observer.

GateHouse Media owns both newspapers after acquiring the Observer in July. Another GateHouse newspaper, the Wilmington StarNews, has printed in Fayetteville since 2009.

The Times-News’ press has also been printing two other GateHouse newspapers, The Dispatch of Lexington and The Asheboro Courier, both of which will print in Fayetteville by March 21.

According to a Times-News story, press workers in Burlington will have opportunities in Fayetteville and Gastonia. The Gaston Gazette also is a GateHouse newspaper.

Although delivery times aren’t expected to change, the editorial deadline for The Times-News, which only has one edition, is expected to be no later than 10:30 p.m.

Raleigh & Co., WRAL and are all divisions of Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc.


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