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

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
.” 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.

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