Our Turn: Mr. Turner called it ‘childish,’ and he was right

Our Turn: A new opinion-based feature on PeeDeePost.com which goes nicely with its counterpart, Your Turn. The two forums offer staff at The Pee Dee Post and its readers the forums needed to write in about issues of the day.

Our first Our Turn addresses a post on PeeDeePost.com’s Facebook page that pointed out some differences in timely reporting between PeeDeePost.com and “that other paper” two blocks down East Washington Street.

* * * 

It almost feels as if we are locked in a race for public office. The “we,” to which I refer includes The Pee DeePost and the Richmond County Daily Journal. After all, both entities are seeking, instead of votes, the eyes of readers, as well as the financial support of advertisers.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I posted on the PeeDeePost.com Facebook page about three stories the Post had 24 or more hours before the Journal. This was the second time in about two months I’ve commented in that forum about how we have reported a handful of items before the “other paper” that has four full-time news/sports staff members and a fifth three-quarter employee. The Post? Only one.

Kevin Spradlin on the scene. Photo clearly not taken by Kevin Spradlin.

Kevin Spradlin on the scene. Photo clearly not taken by Kevin Spradlin.

I also questioned the fairness of the Journal’s practice of publishing its stories online — which are available for free — some 12 to 15 hours before the print subscribers who pay for the information can read it in the next day’s printed edition.

Most of the 18-plus comments were very supportive of the Post in general, and especially so when comparing PeeDeePost.com to the Journal. I was grateful. But in between praise, Raymond Turner wrote: “It’s sad to have to compare yourself to ‘that other paper’ to make yourself feel better, or to promote your own self. Is this post really needed? … I find your site interesting, and no doubt better than ‘that other paper,’ but posts like these are just childish.”

To answer Mr. Turner’s question of whether or not it’s needed, I say, “yes and no.”

The case for “Yes”

Newspapering is a business, and we’re engaged in an effort to seek wider support of readers and advertisers alike. I feel we’ll be successful in garnering additional support from both elements if we are successful in reporting the news in a timely and accurate manner.

And when we beat that other paper on issues, so much the better. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t beat them. They have five times the manpower. When we do beat them on a story, it begs the question, with a staff nearly five times what the Post has, why the Post would beat the Journal at anything. But we do, and we do so on a regular basis.

My full-time job includes two primary elements. First, to report the news as it happens to the benefit of readers. I shouldn’t assume that even the most loyal PeeDeePost.com readers are comparing the two outlets on a regular basis and noticing what stories we report first.

Second, it’s to build the locally owned business of PeeDeePost.com. I live here, my family lives here, my children go to school here, we all play here, and any profit made here will stay here — and not to line the pockets of bigwigs in Lumberton, Davidson or Miamisburg, Ohio as in the case of the profits from the Daily Journal that are directed not to the local people who staff the paper but to the corporate bigwigs running the show from the Journal’s parent company, Civitas Media.

The case for “No”

My job isn’t to beat them. It is, as previously stated, to report the news in a timely and accurate manner. It’s also my job to return to true community journalism. While some outside voices chime in on parenting or other opinion-based topics, 98 percent of the content on PeeDeePost.com is Richmond County-centric. That’s not the case with “that other paper.”

Another point: Quite frankly, I underestimated the ability of our readers to see the different approaches between the two. I figured I was one of the few paying attention to what each paper, online or in print, was doing. That’s not the case. A very large number of PeeDeePost.com readers also are paying attention to what “that other paper” is, or often isn’t, doing.

The Pee Dee Post covered the Special Olympics. We were there for Buddy Roe’s annual bike ride. We were there for the Vickie Butler Memorial Cornhole Tournament. We were there for two of the three days of the national lawn mower racing event in Ellerbe. We were there opening day of the Hot Mamas Softball League.

We were there at the ribbon-cutting for Hitchcock Creek. We were first to go to Troy to report on the four local teams competing the district all-star youth softball tournament. We were there for opening night of “Fences” at Richmond Community Theatre. We didn’t just report on the fact that the city of Hamlet wants to renovate and restore the old Opera House, we went to tour the facility, took a bunch of photos and detailed the plan as well as readers could be served.

Though a staff of one — on the newsroom side, at least — we might not get to everything (yet), but what we do get to, we’ll do so in a timely and accurate manner. And thanks to Mr. Turner’s response, and the numerous comments of support and acknowledgement of many other loyal readers, I now have a better idea of how many people really are paying close attention to both news outlets.

In that case, then, there might be absolutely no need for me to say anything more about the subject.

 

 

 

 

 

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Opinion

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  • JD

    Ok, I have to comment here. I want to read about Richmond County happenings. I lived there and poured many years of blood, sweat and tears in RCO. Now to my opinion, people want a good product. Most recently, my children submitted information (the exact same information actually) to both papers. One of the articles from the RCDJ was edited and misquoted with as many factual errors as accuracies. The RCDJ has become as Mr. Spradlin articulates, totally disconnected from “my hometown”. Good news, I have spoken to the leadership of the RCDJ so many times I cannot count, about reporting good deeds of citizens, of young people doing good deeds, at home, at work, and in our schools and communities. Oh, they are quick to respond “they sale as many papers with bad news (wrecks, breaking and entering information, drug sales, etc) as they do with “fluff” stories. I am pleased to see someone taking a fresh look at local events. I wish this would have been someone local, however, since noone from RCO stepped up I am glad to see that someone has. Mr. Spradlin has been responsive to questions and even criticism (mine included) his responses were thorough, informative, and timely. It has been refreshing change to log onto the peedeepost.com and find out whats going on, back home. Well done!

    • S. Futrell

      We should remember that Kevin Spradlin WAS the editor at “that other paper” ,and many of the times when you came in asking for “fluff” stories he would go off like a tickerbomb about ‘sorry I cant talk to you right now I’m on a deadline” and how that stuff doesn’t sell a paper.plus he’s putting himself forward as a person of this community, well, he hasn’t even been here a year and moved from somewhere up north to work for the Daily Journal an actual newsPAPER. There is no paper here its’a ll on line and a lot of the people would rather get a real paper this is just a blog and Spradlin has quoted people wrong a lot of times too and published things that are not even true like rumors and things I think he just hears something and puts it online.

      • peedeepost

        Thank you for writing, Mr. Futrell. I’ll be glad to respond, briefly

        1. Yes, I was editor at the Daily Journal. I mention that on the “About us” page on PeeDeePost.com. It’s not a secret.

        2. Yes, I was on multiple deadlines while at the Daily Journal. Constantly, I was tied to the desk so much so that … yes, I quit my job, moved two blocks up the road and started a digital newspaper in order to practice community journalism that I feel is desperately needed here. There were simply too many Richmond County stories of Richmond County people not getting told.

        3. I never said fluff stories don’t sell a paper. I do, however, stand by a general position that bad news sells better than good news. I still feel that way. But if you look around PeeDeePost.com, I hope you’ll consider there are plenty of “good news” stories.

        4. Yes, I moved from Maryland. That, too, is not a secret.

        5. Some people do, in fact, prefer a hard copy of a newspaper in their hands. That’s true. However, there are thousands of individual readers (more than 14,733 at least count) looking for local news online.

        6. Misquotes? Please come talk to me about that. As I do not have full-time office staff, I can be reached best by email at peedeepost@gmail.com. I’d be happy to meet with you if you care to substantiate this claim and make any corrections needed.

        7. A blog. No Sir, this is a credentialed and credible online news outlet. There is a significant difference. I’m a trained journalist with 19 years in the business. I’d be happy to talk with about what it takes to be a journalist. You could set up a website about your profession, and even write about it, but it wouldn’t make you a journalist. My email address is above so you can reach out and schedule a time that best suits you to meet with me.

        All the best,

        Kevin Spradlin, managing editor
        The Pee Dee Post
        301 E. Washington St.
        Rockingham, NC 28379
        910-331-4130

        • Vickie Singletary

          Kevin, I have not purchased the “other paper” in YEARS. The quality of the paper has dwindled and a lot of the time, due to the cut back of days of publication, the news that I did receive was late at best. I started reading the other paper online, so what is any different about this being an online newspaper? I would also like to point out that you guys are on top of the news and that we don’t have to wait till they decide to run a print copy to get news that may be pertinent to us on a day that they don’t want to publish a paper. If someone is going to go online and try to belittle you guys for an online paper, he needs to realize that were he not online he would not be able to read it or comment about it! We are in the digital age and almost everything is done via the internet, even his comments. Odd that he would complain when he used that medium himself to tell you what your paper is lacking. You can’t even apply for jobs anymore in person, it is almost all done online, so anyone that doesn’t grasp the progression of communication and the information superhighway doesn’t need to complain about instant access to news!!! I LOVE WHAT YOU GUYS ARE DOING! Keep up the good work! I think our community has finally found a newspaper worthy of our county in the PeeDeePost!!

  • Jay Hudson

    A truly local newspaper is a valuable asset to any community whether digital, or print as their main focus is the community while chain newspape like the Journal’s main focus is on selling adverrtising.

    I love holding a book, or newspaper in my hand to read. I realize it is nothing more than a tactile addiction adopted early in life based simply on cultural evolution. Children of today’s generation will prefer digital news ,as statistics are already proving.

    I am glad to see Kevin and his family move to Richmond County .
    I consider a family members of the commuity as soon as they set up their household.

  • Patricia Davis

    When something “strikes a chord” I feel compelled to sing out. Mr. Spradlin is not behaving in a childish manner…..the facts stand alone. I am sure that many do not agree with his article, but it is what it is and he is correct. Grow up, compare both newspapers with an open mind, and then you are entitled to make a “judgement call”. I contacted the RCDJ occasionally when Mr. Spradlin was editor. I received courteous attention and prompt results. Recently I have contacted the RCDJ, speaking with Mr. Freidman, the current editor. The results have been inconsistent, informing me that so and so will call to clarify (never happened) and printing inaccurate information.

    What made me stand up and take notice was the article that Mr. Spradlin posted in the PeeDee Post approximately one hour after the Memorial Day Service at the Rockingham VFW. The article captured the spirit of the day, not to mention the 491 pictures he posted. He has proven himself to the community time and time again with accurate and timely news articles. That is the goal of journalism.

    I agree that a local newspaper is a valuable asset to the community, but the information needs to timely and accurate. If not, it does not cast the community in a positive light.
    One of the benefits of being an independent newspaper is that you control what is printed. Not so when you are dealing with a corporation operating a newspaper. So, S. Futrell, I suggest you take the time to get reacquainted with Mr. Spradlin, have a sit down and you might walk away really liking the man.

  • Karen

    I enjoy reading Pee Dee Post and I want to see you succeed, but I’m getting really tired of all the negativity. If you have to compare yourself to another paper all the time and keep trying to convince people that you’re better, I have to wonder whether you really believe it yourself. Can’t we all just get along, lol? There’s enough stories to go around, so do what you’re good at and keep your head held high. I read both the Pee Dee Post and “the other paper” and think you both offer something different. You do some stories that they overlook and they do some that you don’t do, so just play to your strengths. I love reading about the softball teams and I hope you keep it up! But remember that every time you write a long story about yourself and how bad you think the other paper is, that’s time that could be better spent doing stories about the good things RCO has to offer. I’m tired of this newspaper soap opera and want to change the channel. No more drama please…just GOOD NEWS!

  • A McLaurin

    Mr. Spradlin, I am always happy to see growth in Richmond County and hope to see you succeed in your endeavors. However, Richmond County will remain loyal to our Daily Journal for many reasons. We actually like to read a real paper newspaper with our morning coffee. This paper was founded by a well respected family of our community. It is exciting for our residents to see their names or faces in real print. It does not become you to advertise your negativity as you do and many of us thought it rather tacky that you introduced your online paper in the Journal while you were still Editor. We do not compare you with the Richmond County Daily Journal. You would be well served to understand the loyalty we feel for them and stop this silly competition. It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    • peedeepost

      Thank you for writing, A. McLaurin, and for your support in the growth of The Pee Dee Post.

      No one at the Post has any issue with readers or advertisers remaining loyal to the Daily Journal. To each his/her own. I wouldn’t go so far as to put all of Richmond County in that same boat, however. The number of paid print subscribers is less than half what it was only a handful of years ago and continues to decline.

      On a personal note, I enjoy the feeling of newsprint in between my fingers as well, and have done so for the past 28 years. However, it’s worth noting that fully 1/5 of PeeDeePost.com readers access the site through their phones. Now, I’d never rely on my phone as a primary source for news – but many do, and that figure will surely increase before it decreases.

      Mind you, the Post is only two months old. If the market allows, I’d love to offer a print product. We’ll see as the months and years pass what might be possible.

      As a local small business owner, I feel it is important for me to point out to readers and advertisers alike the differences between the two entities. If the general public feels, as you do, that the two outlets are “apples and oranges,” well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

      There are, in fact, many similarities – basic among them the idea of providing thorough, timely and accurate reports on the people and events in and around Richmond County.

      Yes, the Daily Journal was – past tense – family-owned. A class act all the way, the people who drove the paper in those days were successful in engaging its readers and meeting the needs of the community. Now it is owned by a corporate entity, and the folks at 105 E. Washington St. have bosses in Davidson, Lumberton and Miamisburg, Ohio.

      What the Journal was, it no longer is to many people.

      My family lives here, works here, plays here and the Post thrives on being a local news outlet responsive to the needs of its readers and advertisers. In short, the Post is, in fact, the local newspaper.

      As for anything else in your comment, I’d love to address that on a personal level and not to an unknown “A. McLaurin” online. You seem interested, and I’d be happy to take you through my experience at the Daily Journal and address why I did what I did, how and when, etc., if you find yourself ever with that spare time.

      Best,

      Kevin

      Kevin Spradlin, managing editor
      PeeDeePost.com
      301 E. Washington St.
      Rockingham, NC 28379

      http://www.peedeepost.com

      910-434-8229
      peedeepost@gmail.com

  • Richard Langdon

    The more news media we have, the better for RCO, but I don’t think the Pee Dee Post is a replacement for the local newspaper. “That other paper” might be corporate owned…so what? Most papers are these days. You always say that you live here, work here, play here but how is that any different from the people down the street from you? I happen to know one lady at the Daily Journal who has lived in RCO all her life. I’m sure most or all of their people live and play here too, so what’s the big, dramatic difference you’re trying to point out? The paper misses a lot of things and gets some things wrong, but it is OUR local paper and there’s something to be said for that. Newspapers across the USA are shutting down. Do you really want to see that happen here? Do you want people to lose their jobs?

    • peedeepost

      The Pee Dee Post will let the market dictate whether the Journal is around or not — that’s not for anyone here to say.

      Although we WILL venture out on a limb to say there are a couple of folks there we wouldn’t mind having as a part of our team (bold but true).

      There is a significant difference between being corporate-owned and locally owned. Yes, I think it matters.

      I’d be happy to talk with you and point out some differences if you care to visit the office some time.

      Kevin

      Kevin Spradlin, managing editor
      PeeDeePost.com
      301 E. Washington St.
      Rockingham, NC 28379

      http://www.peedeepost.com

      910-434-8229
      peedeepost@gmail.com

      • Richard Langdon

        I appreciate the offer Mr. Spradlin, and I might have to take you up on it sometime. I do believe in supporting local businesses, but I suppose age and wisdom have given me a more realistic view of what truly makes a business local. By your standards, companies like Belk, McDonalds and Food Lion are evil outsiders because they have a corporate headquarters somewhere else. But they employ lots of local people and contribute significantly to the counties tax base. I’d think the newspaper does the same thing regardless of ownership. The “apples and oranges” commenter nailed it. I think what you do and what they do are completely different. I’ll continue to read both and I do wish you well with Pee Dee Post.

  • The Missus

    Mr. Spradlin,

    I for one, am very excited about the Pee Dee Post! We have to remember that while a great many people enjoy reading news in hard copy, those members of our community are agin and will die eventually. We live in an electronic age, where people want news and media quickly and at their fingertips. I say in 20 years, the newspaper industry that we grew up with will be completely obsolete.

    Ever since coming across the Pee Dee Post’s Facebook page, I have been hooked. I love getting information about local events/news quickly.

    And on a side note, I also worked for the “other” newspaper, and was horrified by the way it is run and how customers are treated.

  • Mark

    I don’t care if the man comes from Mars or Timbuktu. Kevin Spradlin has proven himself to be a invaluable member of our community, as he provides a very great service with the quality product he delivers daily. The fact of the matter is that there is a great need for the Pee Dee Post, and there has been for some time. Too many community events have gone underreported or just plain unreported for far too long. Mr. Spradlin has remedied that, and I applaud him for it. The idea of a digital newspaper is visionary, as digital media represents the future of news, and the future is now as increasingly large shares of the public get their news from online sources. Yes, there will likely always be some who prefer their news in print, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, speaking for myself, I intend to continue to get my local news from the Pee Dee Post. Thank you, Mr. Spradlin. I salute you, sir.

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