While the stage is being set for the Winston-Salem Open tennis match over at Wake Forest, the city’s daily newspaper committed an unforced error.
This week the Journal ran with a newsroom poll under the hed, “9 restaurants we need in and around Winston-Salem right now,” rattling off several chain restaurants that have not made their way to Forsyth yet.
It’s the sort of click-baity list that barely raises a ripple when it’s compiled by bots or hack freelancers in some other market (looking at you, onlyinyourstate.com) or even flacks looking to create “native advertising” for their corporate overlords.
But in scripting this ode to the wonders of Carvel, Popeyes, Shake Shack, Tim Horton’s and whatever’s spinning off this burgers-and-bowls movement in the fast-casual restaurant sphere, the city’s daily newspaper managed to go against months of editorial subtext in the paper, and in the process alienate every local, independently owned eatery in the city.
Seriously, foodie Facebook is going nuts.
We could go down the list item by item and name a better, local version of what the writer craved. Miss Ora’s or Slappy’s chicken can stand against Popeyes any day; great burgers are in abundance in Winston-Salem right now, at a price point that would put Shake Shack to shame; and don’t give me that Tim Horton’s nonsense.
But the Journal’s big mistake was running this thing at all, considering that for the past few months, the paper’s editorial mission has seemed to include driving people downtown during the interminable Business 40 construction so that they could… you know… support the restaurants run by our friends and neighbors who have been holding on during this rough stretch.
And to top it off, it’s sort of insane. One of the conclusions of the poll was that we need more Cracker Barrels.
This is why I have called some daily newspapers “culturally illiterate.” And this is what happens when you ask everybody in the newsroom what they really want for lunch and try to turn it into a story.