Dan Kane went to Roy Williams' press conference to ask him some questions related to the stories Dan has written about the UNC academic scandal. Dan wrote this story afterwards. Bret Stretlow of the Fayetteville Observer posted a transcript of Dan's questions and the coach's answers on the Observer's ACC Basketball blog. Here's a link.
Our series on nonprofit hospitals in North Carolina, "Prognosis: Profits," has been honored with the Bronze Medal in the annual Barlett and Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism.
The series was a joint effort with The Charlotte Observer that we published in April, with follow-up stories that have continued through the year. It was reported and written by Joseph Neff, Ames Alexander, Karen Garloch and David Raynor.
This is a highly competitive and coveted award. We entered jointly with Charlotte, and finished behind the New York Times and USA Today. Honorable mentions went to Bloomberg News, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters.
This was an unusual project for us, a truly cooperative effort with the Observer that spanned a couple of years of reporting on North Carolina hospitals' role in driving up the cost of health care. We published the series in the spring, and as you saw from the recent story on chemotherapy drug markups, the reporting continues.
The award was announced Thursday morning.
-- Steve Riley
In our Sunday editions, we'll report on the remarkable markups that many hospitals are charging for chemotherapy drugs.
It's part of our continuing coverage of hospitals' part in driving up the cost of health care, which started in April with our Prognosis: Profits series, a joint effort with The Charlotte Observer. This report, written by N&O reporter Joseph Neff and Observer reporters Ames Alexander and Karen Garloch, shows huge markups on many cancer drugs, which contribute to the record profits being piled up by many hospitals.
To do the work, the reporters and N&O database editor David Raynor analyzed more than 5,000 chemotherapy claims involving more than 200 health care providers in North Carolina. The team also examined how a large and rising share of oncologists are now affiliated with hospital systems, which have more bargaining power with health insurers and get higher reimbursements.
I don't want to give away too much before we publish, but I will say that many hospitals are receiving reimbursements for cancer drugs that are 10 or more times as much as Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, will allow for its patients. (The hospitals say they have to charge that much to make up for the care they give to poor or uninsured patients.)
You can judge those arguments Sunday, both in print and online.
-- Steve Riley
This isn't that complicated. Getting through college is hard. Many athletes in top-ranked college football and basketball programs are unprepared for college. The result is often scandal.
Mitt Romney's latest ad says that President Obama's economic policies have failed, and that Romney's policies would create 350,000 new jobs in North Carolina.
Let's assume he means in his first four-year term. That would be 87,500 new jobs a year. That's a lot of jobs.
First, let's look at what's happened since January 2009, when the president took office. There were 4,174,597 people working in North Carolina, according to statistics kept by the state Employment Security Commission. (Seasonally adjusted)
In July of this year, the number had grown to 4,202,281. So, looking at it this way, the North Carolina economy employs 27,684 more people. If you want to give the president the benefit of the doubt, and say that he needed time to get his policies into place before they would show results, let's start at January 2010. The state had more than 100,000 fewer people working at that point compared with the year earlier, so the base line was 4,070,722. Between then and now, the state economy has 131,559 more employed people. So that was growth of around 52,000 employees a year.
Romney says he can add 87,500 jobs each year in his first term. That may be doable, but it would be a heck of a thing. In the '90s, when the state was growing gangbusters, the number of employees grew an average of 65,000 annually.
One of the problems in North Carolina is that globalization has decimated manufacturing. The number of people employed in manufacturing in North Carolina has dropped since 2000 from 759,026 to 435,220.
Now, a big chunk of that happened early in the last decade, the continuation of the offshoring of jobs in textiles and other traditional North Carolina industries. But another big batch of manufacturing job losses happened in the recession. 2008 was an awful year for manufacturing in North Carolina.
If there is any good news, it is that the manufacturing losses have seemed to stabilize the last couple of years. Another piece of good news - maybe, depending on your point of view - is that increased natural gas production through fracking could bring more manufacturing jobs here. If you are against fracking, then this probably won't appeal to you, but it is possible that abundant, low-cost energy is a way to bring jobs back from overseas. One joker in the deck is that we don't really know yet how much natural gas can be extracted through fracking in NC, and won't know for a while.
If you are a real economics geek, you know that a bunch of people are getting together at a place called Jackson Hole at the end of this week to talk about the economy. Every year, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City holds its annual symposium in Wyoming. Economists and central bankers fly in.
Karl Fleming, a great and brave reporter during the civil rights movement in the 1960s who died recently at age 84, had many ties to North Carolina.
Fleming was born in 1927 in Virginia but lived in an orphanage in Raleigh from ages 8 to 17, according to a fine obitary by the Los Angeles Times' Elaine Woo. He joined the Navy just as World War II was ending, then attended Appalachian State University for two years. He worked at newspapers in Wilson, Durham and Asheville, and eventually became Newsweek's Atlanta correspondent in 1961.
Fleming covered all the biggest civil rights stories in the South in the 1960s, often under difficult conditions. He reported on the Birmingham church bombing in 1963; the assassination of the NAACP's Medgar Evers in Jackon, Miss., in 1963; and the disappearance in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964 of three civil rights workers. "Karl was one of these reporters who would go anywhere, any time, no matter what the danger, if the story was good enough," said Gene Roberts, a North Carolinian and former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Fleming and Claude Sitton of The New York Times, who later became editor of The News & Observer, did brilliant work from the South in the 1960s and sometimes joined forces. Elaine Woo wrote: "Since one wrote for a daily paper and the other for a weekly newsmagazine, they did not consider themselves competitors and found it useful and safer to work together. They developed some methods to protect themselves, including obscuring their stock-in-trade — their reporter's notebooks — by cutting them down to fit in their pockets.
"That trick did not help in Philadelphia, Miss., where they were the first reporters on the scene of the three civil rights workers' disappearance. The sheriff told Fleming he was a traitor to 'our precious Southern way of life' and ordered him and Sitton to leave town. A pack of white toughs pursued them, and back at their motel men with shotguns invited them to 'take a ride with us out in the country.' Fleming and Sitton quickly packed their bags but returned later to continue reporting the story."
One problem with the front page is that you can't stretch it. Not length-wise and not width-wise. It is what it is. Newsprint cut to fit on our presses. The printed area is 21 inches deep by 10 inches wide. It doesn't expand on big news days.
One of the reasons that we are watching the progress of Hurricane Isaac closely is our experience with Hurricane Katrina seven years ago this week. Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on a Monday. The news out of New Orleans on that Monday suggested that things were bad, but not cataclysmic.