The newspaper options in New Bern in the 1970s were The “Raleigh” News and Observer and The Sun Journal. My parents took both papers.
The papers included the baseball box scores and, between the two of them, all the local and national sports coverage we could imagine. Walking up the driveway to collect the paper every morning or afternoon was part of our routine, especially in the summer.
Of course, getting to the sports section meant perusing a little national news and occasionally running across a familiar name in the local section. If that familiar name was associated with some controversy, we read the whole article. We discovered who was in trouble, what lawyers they hired, and which controversies were full-blown scandals.
By college, most of us had developed the habit of reading the newspapers daily, usually spread out over the table at breakfast.
When I began practicing law, each paper assigned reporters to the local court houses. You learned quickly when to speak and when to keep your mouth shut. Anything uttered in the smoking room at the Durham County Courthouse was clearly off limits. No doubt, though, it provided a lot of “off the record” scoop.
These papers exist today. They are circulated world-wide over the Internet, but the reporting is much different. They don’t cover the local courthouses daily, and neither is the paper it once was.
I have been thinking about local news coverage this week.
Our friend, Mark Ricker, is in the area. Mark grew up in Burlington and graduated from UNC a couple years behind us. When he arrived in New York after college, he and my wife worked together at J. Crew while Mark began a career on the “aesthetic” side of film making.
Mark started as an intern on various films, worked in art direction after film school, and ultimately became a production designer.
According to Wikipedia, a production designer is responsible for the overall aesthetic of the story. Their job is to help give us a sense of the time, the location, and the characters’ actions and feelings through the sets and settings.
Mark was the production designer for films such as Julie & Julia, The Help, Trumbo, All the Way, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, films that starred Meryl Streep, Allison Janney, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, and the late Chadwick Boseman.
Mark is also the friend who stays in touch. He returns children’s texts when they want to interview him for a school project. Mark offers his New York apartment to friends when he’s out of town, despite knowing his downstairs neighbors will complain.
Mark is humble, kind, and generous. He’s loyal and cares for aging parents just like the rest of us.
Last Monday, Mark was nominated for an Academy Award for the production design of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
I searched The Times News, The Daily Tarheel, and The News and Observer for an article. With the exception of a link to The Los Angeles Times article in The News and Observer, I found no local coverage of the nomination.
The local news may not have the interest or capacity to cover it, but Mark’s nomination is some good news for Burlington, UNC, and North Carolina after a really difficult year.
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