The Rocky Mount Telegram – The Unfolding Story – Leads Us To A New Beginning

Today’s blog post is dedicated to my tutorial professor who reminds me from time to time that my job as a writer is to set us on higher ground. This admonishment caused me to think beyond the current crisis of allegations, where we are all focused, to what comes next once the future of our city government is determined. This will be a new beginning.

The two quotations from the professor’s private papers, Naval Wisdom, have been selected because of their relevance to the Telegram’s well-written serial story  making news.

“If you can not explain it here and now, in the dark of the mid-watch,
how will you ever explain it later at the long, green table?”

The Rocky Mount Telegram has been writing a kind of mystery story that has people staying up late at night in order to read the next chapter as soon as it is available. I think of this story as a book found shelved in the business section with chapters devoted to management, in this case, mismanagement, incompetence, and cronyism. The ‘book’ has become an instant best seller in the genre of political intrigue. There is a lead detective, Lindell John Kay who has uncovered serious allegations of mismanagement. He is a methodical man who prides himself on building his case carefully, looking into records, acquiring evidence, and taking interviews with those who are or have been working in city government or are small businesses owners who can substantiate the allegations that are coming to light. 
As the plot unfolds, Detective Kay continues to apprise the citizens of Rocky Mount, where the story is set, of further revelations. Opinions are being formed as to who else may be responsible, either because of their complicity or because they have gained from the graft and corruption under suspicion. There is an attempt to turn the spotlight from obvious mismanagement to a knee jerk fall back position: this is merely a black and white issue, (racial) which explains away any responsibility to make this right. The flip side of the coin is that this story is about right and wrong. It is about actions, process and good governance that is under scrutiny.

Ever collision at sea and ship grounding is the result of multiple
failures by many individuals, and had its origins long before, in
failures of training and management, only coming to the sad current
result through process failure, including inept leadership, exhibited by
the failure to apply prior lessons learned by others through painful
experience, via a disciplined, continuous application, supported by
repeated, constant re-enforcement, in pursuit of excellence, all the
time, in every evolution.

The naval findings in this quotation are applicable to our collision, the result of multiple failures by many people that have had their origins before this unfolding story came to light. The Navy found inept leadership and a failure to pursue excellence in every situation. Those who will be attending the City Council meeting scheduled this afternoon will represent many others who ask for a simple outcome: a fair game played on a level playing field for all. We all expect the right thing to be done in order to let us get on with the game of revitalization, the saving of our Main Street, and further reason for economic investment. A new beginning starts with a political solution to the problems that reside in City Management. After a  financial audit as well as a management audit, we will have new procedures and a new resolve to say every day,  “Yes!” to Rocky Mount.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Case You Missed the article In The Telegram Published On Nov. 25,’18

Sunday, November 25, 2018 – Rocky Mount Telegram                                          From Contributed Reports

Twin County Hall of Fame Welcomes New Inductees

Lanny Shuff left, and Sam Toler hold Toler’s portrait during the Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet at the Rocky Mount Event Center.

The 15th annual Twin County Hall of Fame Induction Banquet was many things this year — not only a celebration of 12 new inductees but a revival meeting, a fashion show, a reunion of friends, family and supporters and a remembering of those gone before us that helped form who we have become — our parents, mentors, coaches, educators and friends.
The banquet was a first at the new, spectacular Rocky Mount Event Center where rooms Edgecombe 1, 2 and 3 can be opened to seat a large gathering. Everyone was appreciative of the chef back in the kitchen preparing food for a small, intimate dinner party of 500 people, who were served a delicious meal of salad, steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, and small cheesecake desserts.

This was a history-making occasion with an audience filled to capacity since the Induction Banquets began and the first catered event in the Event Center. Golden Platter Milton Bulluck, a 2006 inductee, entertained the audience with several signature songs.
Framed portraits honoring the lives, leadership and careers of the class of 2018 Inductees were presented in honor of Dr. Robert and Rev. Carolyn Barbe, Dr. Newsom Pittman Battle and Dr. Margaret White Battle, James Erastus Batts, Dr. Charles Marshall Coats, Janice Beavon Gravely, Janice Bryant Howroyd, Robert ‘Bob’ Melton, Lt. Col. James A. Mercer. Betsy Buckley, and Samuel A. “Sam” Toler. In addition, Kimberly Kyser accepted on behalf of her father, musician Kay Kyser, who was inducted in the class of 2004.

A life of service and leadership with the underpinnings of education, discipline, responsibility, perseverance and strong parenting was the reoccurring theme throughout the inductees’ stories. The acknowledgment that faith, prayer and the church strengthened the lives of these outstanding citizens was evident.

No one in attendance will soon forget the quiet, sweet voice of inductee Janice Bryant Howroyd when accepting her award while singing the hymn her mother taught her: “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. I know his eye is on the sparrow, I know he watches over me.”

At the end of the evening, there was a collaborative sigh of thanksgiving for the inductees, the success of the occasion and the amazing guests. There was even a shout from within the Event Center: “We Did it!”
They certainly did.

SFH with an additional Comment: When I went off to the University of Kentucky, I intended to major in Journalism, but my Freshman Advisor was the head of the Sociology Department and one thing led to another. The closest I got to0 that original dream was selling advertising for a weekly newspaper called The Country Gentleman in Crestwood Ky. When Lanny Shuff asked me to write this piece for the Telegram it brought a smile. You know the expression having your day in court, well, I had my day writing for a newspaper. It was fun.  

Following Up-The Rocky Mount Telegram Leads to A Great Book

The other day I posted a two part series on The Rocky Mount Telegram which led me to a new author and book because I used a quotation from The Imperfectionists. If you have an interest in journalism you will LOVE this novel. I write another blog, Stephenyhoughtlin.com with reviews of books, about writing, gardening, travel, and more…passions of mine. I decided to reprint a part of the review for my Main Street readers in case it calls to them. And thanks for the feedback on the Telegram posts. To read the entire review click here.

I am never without a book, I read every day, though more often than not propped up in bed after 11:00 PM. A great book can last until two in the morning. Recently, I needed a quote for the other blog I write, Mainstreetrockymount.com – a two part series about The Rocky Mount Telegram newspaper. Some research led me to a quote I liked, but who was Tom Rachman and what was this novel, The Imperfectionists? I certainly didn’t want to quote someone who turned out to be an embarrassment to my literary sensibilities. The blurb was intriguing, so much so that I bought the book…free shipping Amazon Prime!

…Tom Rachman graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and has been a foreign correspondent for the AP, stationed in Rome and worked as an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He lives in Rome. And can he write…..

The Imperfectionists (2010) is Rachman’s debut novel that follows the private lives of the reporters, editors, and executives of an international English-language newspaper in Rome as they struggle to keep it and themselves going. Each chapter reads like a short story as the characters are brought forward. Fifty years and many changes later, the paper founded by a millionaire from Atlanta resides in a dingy office with stains on the carpet. Nothing about the editor, the lazy obituary writer, the financial officer, a freelance writer that makes up news in order to get noticed, disappoint for they are but a few of the compelling, interesting, funny, pathetic, brilliant people I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I can’t say enough positive things about this story, this writer, this experience of entering Rachman’s world of journalism fictionalized by an author with credentials that make this a delightful, authentic read. I’ll leave you with a quote that particularly amused me.
“Nigel, an attorney-at-rest since they left D.C. more than two years earlier, thrives on this life: reading nonsense on the Internet, buying high-end groceries, decrying the Bush administration at dinner, wearing his role of househusband as a badge of progressive politics. By this hour, he’s normally fulminating: that the CIA invented crack cocaine; that Cheney is a war criminal; that the September 11 attacks were conceived by agents of Big Oil. (He talks a lot of shit about politics. She has to smack him down intellectually once a week or he becomes unbearable.) This evening, however, Nigel is restrained, “Good day?” he asks.”                         I can’t resist adding one more quote…

“For many, especially those in remote locales, the paper is their only link to the greater world, to the big cities they left, or the big cities they have never seen, only built in their minds. The readers constitute a sort of fellowship that never meets, united by loved and loathed bylines, by screwed-up photo captions, by the glorious corrections box.”

Hope you don’t mind this departure from the usual Main Street posts, but I keep telling you, one thing leads to another and the Telegram posts led me to a great read I wanted to share with you.

 

 

Imagining a New Rocky Mount Telegram – Part 1

Woman reading newspaper in a gold room. Francesco Nétti (Italian artist, 1832- 1894).

I intended to major in journalism. It never worked out. It didn’t help that my junior year in high school I was turned down for a staff position on the Evanstonian, the school paper. Miss Stephens, the sponsor for the paper told me my grades weren’t quite good enough, and for my sake, all the extra work on the newspaper wasn’t a good idea. I was crushed. Undeterred, I left for the University of Kentucky to major in journalism. I got side-tracked by the head of the Sociology Department, who was also my freshman college advisor, a wonderful old gentleman, who reeled in many a student to his discipline, including me.

Though I grew up reading the Chicago Tribune, my real education in the newspaper business began in my first life living in Cadiz, Kentucky reading The Cadiz Record.  In those days, a southern local newspaper printed the names of those who were visiting in town, details of the brides wedding dress, and what the high school football team ate for breakfast on the morning of the game. It was all wonderful. My only working experience for a newspaper was on a newly launched weekly in Oldham County, Kentucky called, The Country Gentleman. It was a two-woman operation: Maggie wrote the copy, I sold the advertising.

You and I could have a rousing discussion on what in the hell has happened to the newspaper business, but instead, I recommend you read My Paper Chase – The stories of Vanished Times by Harold Evans. You won’t put it down. Evans became the editor for the Sunday Times and The Times of London, and among other things in a long illustrious career was a book publisher acquiring the memoirs of people like Colin Powell, Marlon Brando, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. My Paper Chase is a poignant reminder of all that newspapers once were, and all they could be again.

Which brings me to The Rocky Mount Telegram. I have spoken several times in jest to my writing group about staging a coup and taking the paper over because I think we are uniquely qualified to make some needed improvements. Unfortunately, the writing group that could bring different skills to this endeavor, seem otherwise, occupied. It’s a shame!

So it is up to me to state my case. In light of the revitalization going on in the Rocky Mount area, we need a newspaper that carries the flag for the community with renewed energy and enthusiasm. The new mission statement for the paper should be SAYING YES TO ROCKY MOUNT AND THE AREA EVERY DAY!  In imagining this new version of the Telegram, I’d like to fill it with columns that return once again to featuring our own local news…. forget reading about the teacher of the year in Wake Forest and other fillers that leave us drumming our fingers in frustration on the breakfast room table. After all, we have our own great teachers to write about. I’ll explain more tomorrow.

PART TWO TOMORROW

 

 

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