“Nothing could be finer
Than to be in Carolina
In the morning…”

As I head out on the road again for the first visit of the 11th Annual Community Journalism Summer Roadshow, the sweet lyrics of that old tune come unbidden into my head.

And it’s true: nothing could be finer, because frankly for this old newsie, visiting community papers from Murphy to Manteo is a privilege and a treat.

As to the name of the roadshow mentioned above — it doesn’t really capture the sheer fun that this Perfesser Roadie has each summer, so from the outset I began calling naming each summer’s project after some road-tested, road-invoking, road-worthy namesake, going something like this:

    Johnny Appleseed (for the wandering nurseryman)

  1. James Taylor (“Put me on a Country Road”)
  2. Charles Kuralt (CBS: “On the Road”)
  3. Jack Kerouac (“On the Road”)
  4. Willie Nelson (“On the Road Again”)
  5. John Steinbeck (“Travels with Charlie”)
  6. Johnny Cash (“I Been Everywhere, Man”)
  7. William Least Heat Moon (“Blue Highways”)
  8. Robert Frost (“The Road Less Traveled”)

10.  ‘Possum Dodgin’ (in honor of Bubba Dickson of Raeford who offered to take me out to lunch for some local fare)

11. Woody Guthrie (“Goin’ Down This Road Feelin’ Bad”)

If you string it all together, (take a big breath) it’s gotten way too cumbersome. I discovered this after about the fifth summer (The Johnny Appleseed, James Taylor, Charles Kuralt, Jack Kerouac, Willie Nelson Summer Community Journalism Roadshow) Since then, I reverted to just the plain old CJ  Summer Roadshow.

For last summer’s roadshow, I was often joined by a visiting Chinese community journalism scholar, Associate Professor Chen Kai from the Communication University of China in Beijing. Under my guidance, this visionary Chinese scholar spent the academic year 2009-2010 visiting, studying and documenting some of the best community papers in N.C. The result will be a groundbreaking book titled “An Introduction to Community Newspapers in the United States” which will be published in Mandarin later this summer.  It was my honor to write the preface for Professor Chen Kai’s pioneering field guide and text, which of course, will be in Mandarin. I predict it will be a game-changer in that vast country.

The papers she studied and visited included the Fayetteville Observer, the Pilot of Southern Pines, the Charlotte Weeklies, the Sanford Herald, the Spring Hope Enterprise, the Chapel Hill News, the Daily Tar Heel, The Carrboro Citizen, the Star of Shelby, the Washington Daily News, the High Point Enterprise, the Tryon Daily Bulletin and the Daily Reflector of Greenville.

Additionally last summer I led workshops at the Greenville Daily Reflector, the Cooke Newspapers out of Greenville, the Alain Lillie-owned Charlotte Weeklies based in Huntersville, and the Franklin Times of Louisburg and Nashville Graphic.

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