Thursday's front-page story about fan reaction to Clay Aiken's coming out drew an angry reaction from a few readers. "I pick up my N&O this morning and see the article about that sorry, good for nothing Aiken," said one male reader who sounded elderly and said he lived in Kenly in Johnston County. "I'm disgusted with you people. If that's front-page news The N&O needs to be in the outhouse where they used to put it. If that's the only front-page news you've got, McClatchy (owners of The N&O) ought to be broke and ought to fire the whole crowd up there and that includes (Publisher Orage) Quarles and you and the rest of it."
The three other front-page stories Thursday were about Wall Street's problems, including a story that said Wake and Durham counties were finding it difficult to borrow money.
Of the Aiken story, front-page editor Steve Merelman said: "Although this was an event of marginal importance in the life of the nation, it was personally important to many people. It was as though many people simultaneously had a close friend come out of the closet. I thought that was a good opportunity to write about changing attitudes toward homosexuality. I think Matt Ehlers did a nice job doing just that."