Talking heads get it wrong

Published 9:18 pm Saturday, December 12, 2009

I’m not a big fan of television news.

Never have been. Likely never will be.

Thursday evening was one reason why. After a Wednesday night incident at Ridgecroft School, a television station from Raleigh made a call to Elton Winslow, the Headmaster of the school.

They got a few words of information about the incident and went with a story online about what happened in the altercation between Ridgecroft and Halifax Academy. It’s a story that is sad and embarrassing to both schools.

According to the TV news story, Ridgecroft School is in Bertie County. The story then adds the fact that the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office was called. I guess someone (an editor maybe?) should have checked into why someone would call Juan Vaughan’s office if the incident happened in an area in which Greg Atkins would have been the sheriff.

Those of you reading this newspaper certainly understand why the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office was called. It’s because Ridgecroft is in Hertford County. It isn’t even like you could throw a rock to the Bertie County line from the school’s property.

As far as I’m concerned, only one news outlet had a right to report the story and that’s this one. There is only one media outlet that covers Ridgecroft School and that is this one.

It irks me no end every time I go on to a website of a television station and see a story of news that is often sensationalized from Hertford or Gates counties. There is a TV station that actually partially covers Northampton County and another that is often in Bertie County and I don’t take issue with anyone covering a story in their area.

But, therein lays the problem.

There wasn’t a television camera within 50 miles of the Roanoke-Chowan Community College gym when DuPont Davis was honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Ditto when Ahoskie Town Councilman Ronald Gatling was honored with the same award recently.

When four Bertie County citizens were awarded by the state of North Carolina for their service the only two news people anywhere close were myself and the reporter for the Bertie Ledger-Advance.

I have never once run into a sports person from any television station at Ridgecroft. Basketball games at none of our schools make the television news. I grant you that football games at Bertie and Hertford County are covered, but never anything else.

Why then do these people think it is okay to “cover” stories – if we’re going to use that word – in places where they have no knowledge, no presence and not even the remotest interest in the good news that happens there?

It is aggravating.

What is further infuriating are those who run to the microphone of any television station that will have them so they can see their face on the local news, but won’t return a phone call when we seek comment.

These are the same people, mind you, that call and complain if you miss something they thought you should be at without actually having taken the time to give you prior notice of an event.

Anyway, that’s my soapbox rant for the day. You’re now released to head back to your real lives.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.