A PR crisis at UNCG

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_D5C5045brianby Brian Clarey

I’ll say this about my old friend Dave Wilson: His mug shot looked fantastic.

And by getting it posted on the front page of the Greensboro News & Record, he fulfilled a lot of people’s expectations of him.

Zing!

Seriously though. Dave is the UNCG photographer who, along with coworkers Chris English and Lyda Carpen was recently tagged with felony charges relating to accusations of time theft at the University Relations Department where they worked.

I don’t know if he did the thing or not. The justice system will gnaw at this one for another year or so before we see any resolution. And it doesn’t matter to me. Dave’s my friend, always.

We threw in together more than a decade ago, at a restaurant on West Market Street. He was a photographer recently degreed from Randolph Community College, I a struggling freelancer. We started selling travel stories with great photography — most of them to our editor, Nicole Crews, who now works for this paper — and our exploits on the waterways of North Carolina would make a pretty good TV series. All that ended in 2003, when he started a family and took a job at UNCG.

I know Chris English, too, a former Winston-Salem Journal shooter, and his wife, Beth, because she works in the relations department, too, and I’ve done some freelance work for her. And I know Lyda. She’s nice.

See how cozy it all is? There’s more.

Betsi Robinson, a former director of communications for the university, along with colleagues Debbie Shallock and Andrea Spencer, wrote a letter to the university executive staff decrying the charges and the atmosphere in which they were levied. But before she worked at UNCG, Robinson was a legendary reporter and editor at the N&R. Margaret Moffett, who with John Newsom is absolutely nailing this story for the daily, worked under her way back when.

And this is why, regardless of whether Wilson and English “stole” company time, the university has a major PR crisis on its hands as well as an uprising from its staff, among the most educated and active people in town: Everybody knows these guys, everyone in the print media anyway, and none of us think they should be hit with felonies.

The real question is why longtime employees at one of the largest universities in the state may have felt the need to moonlight in the first place.

Among other indignities, Dave’s salary was published in the paper. After 11 years on the job, he was earning just over $40,000 a year.

Looks to me like they were stealing time from him.

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