Unsolicited Endorsement: Camel City Dispatch

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by Jordan Green

David Carr, the media critic for the New York Times, rhapsodized on Sunday about his paper’s competitor, the Washington Post.

“The once embattled newspaper is in the middle of a great run, turning out the kind of reporting that journalists — and readers — live for,” he wrote. “That includes coverage that played a role in the resignation of the director of the Secret Service and investigative work that eventually led to the conviction of a former governor of Virginia on corruption charges.”

Even for the most consummate professional in the business, maintaining objectivity while writing about journalistic rivals is near impossible.

That’s what makes this pair of sentences so delicious: “The Post has been guilty of boring its readers in the past, but the current version is a surprising, bumptious news organization — maybe not the pirate ship that Ben Bradlee helmed as executive editor, but it is a sharp digital and daily read. It’s creating challenges for, ahem, its competitors, and bringing significant accountability to the beats it covers.”

In that spirit, I would like to give the nod this week for Triad City Beat’s Unsolicited Endorsement to our Winston-Salem competitors Camel City Dispatch. Okay, Chad Nance and Carissa Joines, the indefatigable couple that runs the online daily out of their house, are good friends. Believe me, that only further complicates this assessment.

The run of crime and fire dispatches, along with rewritten press releases on new art exhibits and local teachers recognized for excellence, is occasionally tedious. But when a good story comes along Nance and Joines have a knack for moving with lightning speed and demonstrating bulldog tenacity. They’re never better than when they stumble on something truly weird.

And it doesn’t get any weirder than the sordid tail of Pazuzu Illah Algarad, the Satanist drug dealer who was arrested with his wife on Sunday and charged with murder after skeletal remains were found behind their house in Clemmons.

By 12:47 a.m. on Monday, the Dispatch had short rundown that detailed Algarad’s previous brushes with the law, examined the mythological and pop-cultural provenance of his name, and curated a description of the couple’s house from a March 2013 Facebook post. Paired with a photograph, also apparently culled from Facebook, depicting the turbaned Algarad with shaved eyebrows and tattoos adorning his face, the composite is darkly sensational.

A follow-up posted at 8:18 p.m. traced a biography of the man who was born John Alexander Lawson, and assumed the name of a Babylonian demon.

This paragraph is pure Manson horror and fascination, transported from Topanga Canyon to the Yadkin River Valley: “It seems everyone was either scared of him or under whatever spell this darkly charismatic kid was weaving. He would skate away from murder charges in the death of Joseph Emmrick Chandler. He would skate away from a beating he and his wife Amber allegedly delivered to his mother, Cynthia. Finally, on October 5th, 2014, his luck ran out. In shallow graves behind 2749 Knob Hill Drive, the decomposing bodies of two human beings were found by Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office investigators and the SBI.”