EDITORIAL: At BH Media, a cut from the top

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news and record

The bloodletting at BH Media, owners of the Greensboro News & Record and the Winston-Salem Journal, continued this week with a single departure, but a fairly significant one.

Publisher and Executive Editor Daniel Finnegan “left his position” according to a N&R staff report.

In the last 12 months, BH Media has laid off a horde of talent at both papers, including dynamite columnist Susan Ladd, incisive editorial writer John Railey and marketing guru Justin Gomez. They have sold the 6.5-acre downtown property where now stands the N&R behemoth office building, always better suited for a suburban office park than the middle of a downtown district, just as they sold the Journal’s downtown building in October 2015, three years after acquiring the paper and its assets.

Massive relocation for the newsrooms and sales desks is in the works.

Is there anyone here in the Triad who still believes that Warren Buffet will rejuvenate the newspaper business?

From here, at the editorial desk of a small alternative weekly, it looks an awful lot like the last few drops being wrung from a sponge.

Now the consolidation of the two papers — foregone from the moment BH Media acquired the N&R all the way back in 2013 — moves one more step towards completion.

We can’t argue with the idea of a single news entity covering the entire Triad, because that is what we have been doing all along.

But BH Media’s plan as the monopoly daily newspaper for the third- and fifth-largest cities in the state is to appoint a regional vice president‚ Alton Brown, as a group publisher, lumping our cities together with their other, rural North Carolina properties in Morganton, McDowell County, Statesville and Hickory.

What BH Media doesn’t — and won’t — get is that we are not making widgets here in the newspaper business. Our mandate is spelled out in the First Amendment and our purview is clear. It’s less about the money and more about the mission; the service we provide is essential to the function of our towns, cities and countries. A self-governing society requires an informed citizenry.

Our business is the business of the American people, and it doesn’t do well in the hands of those who don’t care about that most essential function.

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