|Front page of the current edition|
Chatham News + Record Editor and Publisher Bill Horner III told University of Kentucky journalism professor Buck Ryan that the paper's coverage has been "measured and balanced, and not overblown." For many weeklies, that would mean eschewing commentary, but Horner said after protests "attracted activists and extremists from outside Chatham County," population about 75,000, southwest of Chapel Hill, he wrote an editorial titled, "A message to the agitators: when enough is simply enough."
The 988-word editorial began with four sentences, each its own paragraph: "We get it. You made your point. You came, you did your thing. Now please take your mess somewhere else." The longest paragraph of the editorial read:
"You’re opportunists. You’re angry. You’re soldiers of circumstance. You’re looking for a fight. You live in an agitated world of rabble-rousers, of troublemakers. You yell. You curse. Some of you even spit, push, shove, trespass, confront, harangue, insult, threaten, belittle, accuse. You’d like nothing more than to throw an elbow — proverbial or literal — into someone, anyone, who has a different worldview than you. 'That’ll teach ‘em,' you think. You thrill in nothing more than 'getting your back up,' as our moms used to say, or hoping to record some video of a tangle, a skirmish, a dust-up that will prove to those like you that the other guys are the bad ones, that you’re in the right. You’re right, everyone else is wrong, and that’s that. But you’re in the wrong place, and you’re doing it the wrong way, in a way that’s hurting us."
|The statue stands in front of an old courthouse, now a museum.|
Asked how readers have reacted to the paper's coverage, Horner cited two emails: "One woman railed about how it’s so obvious we’re in favor of having the statue removed. Another said we were horrible journalists because it was so clear we’re in favor of letting the statue remain. Both messages were referring to the same exact news story. We got a very angry call from one elected official berating us for — and this is what he said — publishing stories that were 'too balanced, too fair.' He thought our stories should have been slanted toward the statue’s removal."