Monday, August 11, 2008


Coverage of this story involving Durham by two news outlets based in nearby Raleigh, NC provides a perfect example of what I mean by imbalance.

Both stories cover the same topic and both are technically accurate. Both written by good reporters. But one reveals the Durham MSA has surpassed the Raleigh-Cary MSA and the other skits that observation by focusing attention only Raleigh-Cary’s percentage of growth. percentage.

Of course you may be wondering if perhaps the one outlet tended to always cover stories about rankings that way. But if you check out this story from the same paper a week earlier you’ll see that’s not the case.

Not only is the Raleigh ranking heralded in both headline and stories, this reporter took some things I was saying about Durham’s rankings (such as the statement I made about feelings of superiority leading to complacency) and used them out of context as if I somehow was bitter that Raleigh had received recognition.

The reporter also failed to correct my revelation to him that the early ‘90’s ranking he attributes to Raleigh was really one given to 6 counties and more than a dozen cities and towns including Durham. Maybe he missed that point or maybe an editor thought it muddied the story.

My only beef is that had the story been troubling, it would have emphasized Durham as the location while skirting or generalizing the location if Raleigh was the location such as the troubling event such as happened recently with coverage of a huge gang riot at a mall there. Just compare that to coverage of events at malls in Durham where attribution is not only specific to Durham but repeated.

We’ve consistently been told by the Raleigh paper, repeated by the Raleigh AP office that by policy they seldom acknowledge the location of very positive stories emanating from SE Durham, the location of Research Triangle Park. They claim these are “regional stories.” They may be regional, state, national or international in interest, but the fact is they occur in Durham.

Can you can imagine the outcry if Durham began referring to the “State Capital" separate from Raleigh just because it has “regional or state” significance?

All any community can ask is that attribution be consistent and accurate and the standards applied equally from community to community, regardless of whether the content of a story is positive or troubling.

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