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Today, this newsletter takes the easy way out
Original reported news? Meh, we’re writing an entire newsletter based on press releases.
Today’s Charlotte Ledger is sponsored by the new book “Kenny Riley and Black Union Labor Power in the Port of Charleston” by Charlotte writer Ted Reed — now available at Park Road Books:
IMPORTANT EDITOR’S NOTE ABOUT TODAY’S NEWSLETTER
It’s been a busy last couple weeks here at The Ledger. Tony and Cristina each logged dozens of hours covering last week’s high-profile trial in federal court. Cristina dug into school bond proposals and tracked down jurors. Tony sifted through financial data and public records from the city about electric scooters. Lindsey has been cranking out new podcast interviews and has been interviewing people for fascinating upcoming feature stories.
We take pride in delivering original local news and insights for our readers, and we enjoy it. But it’s a lot of work.
So for today’s newsletter, we’re taking it easy. Instead of doing the grueling, time-consuming work of talking to sources and scouring documents to give you fresh, original insights, we’re going to look no further than our inboxes for inspiration. Yep, we’re making some PR pros’ dreams come true by rewriting their press releases. We have fashioned a newsletter devoid of pretty much any original reporting.
Readers might not realize it, but that is becoming a common practice in the media industry. It’s known as “curation” — taking widely available information and repackaging it. Whole businesses, profitable ones, have been started with such an approach. You make it look pretty, market the heck out of it and sell ads against it. Under this strategy, the actual articles — often referred to as “content” — just have to be interesting enough for people to read, not necessarily the product of independent thinking and reporting.
To be clear, that is not The Ledger’s approach. We think our readers crave smart and original articles about Charlotte, ones that ask the right questions of the right people, break new ground and highlight important trends (even those unnoticed by publicists). But who knows? Let’s find out.
How we did it: Our three full-timers — Tony, Cristina and Lindsey — saved all press releases received between Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. Tony received 58, Cristina received 25 and Lindsey received 17. We met by Zoom, selected the ones we found most interesting, rewrote them in a chatty voice and formatted them below. In one instance, we shared something we saw on social media. Occasionally, we went the extra mile and Googled some info, or, in the case of the new Panthers coach, pulled some quick reaction from Twitter (which is a common journalistic crutch).
As it turns out, writing breezy is pretty easy: We wrapped up our work early and powered down our laptops by about 4 p.m. — much earlier than usual!
So what do you think? Can you tell a difference? Let us know!
(Don’t worry: We are not seriously contemplating this approach on a permanent basis. It’s a one-time experiment, although we have previously turned over the writing of our newsletter to artificial intelligence and to 4th and 5th graders.)
—Tony Mecia, executive editor, The Charlotte Ledger
Want your Picasso with a helping of Romare Bearden? The Mint Museum has your back
Visitors to the Mint Museum Uptown will be able to explore the similarities between the work of Romare Bearden and Pablo Picasso. Left: Bearden’s “The Open Door,” a 1979 lithograph that is in the Mint’s collection. Right: “Nature Morte devant une Fenêtre Ouverte sur l’Eau,” stencil after a work by Pablo Picasso from 1923, gouache on silkscreen on paper from the Musée Picasso. (Images courtesy of a Mint Museum press release)
by Cristina Bolling
The artistic connection between the late artists Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden is the focus of an exhibition opening next month at the Mint Museum Uptown — an exhibit timed to run alongside one of the most anticipated art events to hit Charlotte in recent years, “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds.”
“Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations” runs from Feb. 11 to May 21 and will include three loaned works by Picasso and 17 by Bearden, according to a Mint Museum press release.
Picasso, who was a native of Spain and lived from 1881 to 1973, is one of the world’s best-known artists. Bearden, who lived from 1911 to 1988, was born in Charlotte and became famous for his oil paintings and collages depicting African American culture and experience.
While most of the Mint’s exhibition is composed of Bearden’s collages and prints, nearly half of the works are of his rarely seen early paintings from the 1940s, “when he was immersed in the New York art world and a time when Picasso was frequently exhibiting there,” the press release said.
The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections:
Picasso’s and Bearden’s shared interest in imagery of bulls and bullfighting
The importance of music and rhythm “as both a subject matter and a way of creating a dynamic composition”
Their shared interest in interior scenes and their use of doorways and windows as compositional devices
Their use of black outlines defining simplified, brightly colored forms, called the “stained glass esthetic”
The exhibition was curated by Jonathan Stuhlman, senior curator of American art at the Mint Museum.
“On the surface, it might seem odd to organize an exhibition that brings together the work of American artist Romare Bearden and Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, as it might seem the two have little in common, however there has rightly been some notice of the relationship between the two artists’ works," Stuhlman said in the news release.
“Discussions have primarily centered upon the comparison of their shared subject matter of folk musicians and the impact of Cubism on Bearden’s approach to collage, a relationship that he himself acknowledged, and each artist’s use of African masks in their art,” Stuhlman said. “While these are important and valid connections, this exhibition seeks to add additional points of aesthetic and intellectual overlap and shared interest to the story.”
Want to go? Admission to “Bearden/Picasso: Rhythms and Reverberations” is $25 for adults; $20 for seniors 65 and older; $10 for members and college students with ID. Tickets include general museum admission and admission to “Picasso Landscapes: Out of Bounds.” Children ages 17 and younger and art teachers are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available for advance purchase at mintmuseum.org/ticketing.
📅On March 18 from 2 to 4 p.m., the Mint will host “An Afternoon Salon: Romare Bearden and Modernism” at Mint Museum Uptown featuring Richard Powell, Ph.D., Duke University professor and Romare Bearden Foundation advisor; Denise Murrell, Ph.D., curator-at-large at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and moderator Diedra Harris-Kelley, co-director of the Romare Bearden Foundation. They will discuss the life and works of Romare Bearden. Admission is $10 for the salon and to see Bearden/Picasso and Picasso Landscapes; or $5 for the salon and general admission to the museum.
Cristina Bolling is managing editor of The Ledger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t go hangry: If you’re headed to the Picasso exhibits around the lunch or dinner hour, we’re here for you. Below are some restaurants the Ledger staff recommends that are near the museum, or perhaps on your way:
🍩Tony: For a quick bite uptown, it’s hard to beat a glass of wine and the fried calamari with peppers at The Capital Grille (pro tip: enjoy it at the bar area). Or go for the braised short rib at Stoke — but save room for the massive Heath Bar-topped donut for dessert!
🍰Cristina: You can’t beat Fin & Fino for proximity — it’s just a block from the Mint. If you’re like me and you love to sample lots of different dishes, you’ll want to convince your dining partner(s) to go in on The Treatment, which is a tasty tour of the restaurant’s most popular offerings. Finish it off with Mom’s Cheesecake — you’ll thank me later.
🌮Lindsey: I recommend stopping at White Duck Taco Shop on East 10th Street on your way into uptown. I usually order three tacos for myself, one of which is always the Bangkok shrimp taco.
Can Reich right the ship? Panthers hire their first-ever QB as new head coach
The Carolina Panthers are bringing in a new face to help turn things around after posting losing records for the last five years.
On Thursday, the team named former Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich as the team’s new head coach. Reich, 61, “brings credentials as an offensive play-caller to a place looking for stability at quarterback and the chance to bring a new perspective to one of his old homes,” the Panthers said on their website.
But he’s not entirely a new face: In his playing days, after years as a backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, he signed with the Panthers and became their first starting quarterback, in 1995.
While some people on Twitter welcomed the news, other people on Twitter said they would have preferred that interim coach Steve Wilks had gotten the job:
Reich also has a background in Charlotte. From 2003 to 2006, he served as president of Reformed Theological Seminary’s Charlotte campus and later served as pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian, now known as Ballantyne Presbyterian, according to an article on the Panthers’ website.
Does that mean the Panthers might have a prayer next year? Time will tell. —TM
A company with a Charlotte CEO is pioneering eco-friendly tooth-brushing
When you’re brushing your teeth before bed, do you ever think about how many toothpaste tubes end up in landfills and oceans?
Maybe not, but someone did — and now there’s a company with Charlotte ties that is doing something about it.
A company called Poppits LLC has a CEO named Alan Daly, who lives in Charlotte. The company’s first product is called “PopGel” — it’s a 100% plastic-free toothpaste tube, which is available in three anti-cavity fluoride styles: cooling Cucumber Spearmint Whitening ($9.99, green tube), Peppermint Super Whitening ($9.99, blue tube) and Mind Mint Sensitive Kind ($15, purple tube).
Recyclable toothpaste tube: In a press release, the company, which is based in Florida, says they’re the “world’s first and only 100% non-plastic toothpaste tubes.” They’re packaged in sustainable aluminum that is “infinitely recyclable.”
If you want to go the extra mile, purchase a $6 toothbrush made of bamboo wood. Or go with a plastic-free corn fiber floss ($6).
No word on where you might find them at retail stores, but they are available online.
Good for your teeth, good for the environment, too, we’d say! —TM
Local non-profit Camino offers educational services to lift the social mobility of Charlotte’s Latino population
As Charlotte’s Latino population continues to grow, Camino is offering its services to equip Latino immigrants for the competitive job market through its workforce development program called Arriba.
Camino is a bilingual and multicultural 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Charlotte.
Its Arriba program offers a variety of educational services, workshops and programs that cover skills like resume building, job interviewing, GED testing and preparation. Arriba also offers financial education workshops and ESL (English as a second language) classes, which currently have over 100 individuals enrolled.
“When someone comes from another country, they might feel lost, and they are probably looking for a starting point to get back on their feet,” said Nori Maldonado, Arriba’s workforce development coordinator, in a press release. “We offer all of our services to help individuals with professional development, and for many immigrants, we are their starting point.”
Mecklenburg County has the second largest Latino population in North Carolina behind Wake County, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. —LB
Paging Marvin Gaye🍷🌹🛏️: Study reveals the most popular sex positions in N.C.
In case you needed proof that there’s a study for everything, sex website delicto.com has a new one for you: The company analyzed Google Trends data on 17 sexual positions to reveal which ones are the most popular in every state (or at least the most searched-for on Google).
We’ll get right down to business in telling you what sexual positions North Carolina residents most often Googled, and presumably are doing between the sheets, according to a press release from delicto.com:
First place: the “missionary” position
Second place: “69”
Third place: “Cowgirl”
We’re a family newsletter, so we’ll let you Google those terms yourself if you need an explanation.
An unnamed spokesperson for delicto.com put the findings in helpful context in the company’s press release:
Discussions around sex and pleasure have moved forward in recent times and allow us a comfortable space to educate ourselves and to explore our interests.
Missionary is seen as a more intimate position as it is face-to-face, however the interest for more acrobatic and “distant” positions such as 69 and doggy-style are very common across all US states.
We predict this news will be well-received from uptown to Lower South End. —CB
(No, not this kind of missionary)
New Charlotte fintech company, backed by McColl, matches small businesses and banks
Charlotte is filled with many promising fintech companies, and now there’s another one.
A new company called Foro said Thursday that it has “emerged from stealth mode” and is launching a digital commercial lending platform. It helps solve a familiar problem for small businesses: securing access to capital. And it has a well-known backer: former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr.
“They’ve built a platform that streamlines the loan process and enhances lending strategies for financial institutions, and provides all business owners with the opportunities, tools, and confidence they need to grow their business,” McColl said in a press release.
It sounds to us kind of a like a LendingTree for commercial loans, in that it pairs businesses seeking funding with banks and credit unions that might be a good match.
It will be interesting to see where this one goes. —TM
Cyber-attack paranoia: North Carolina ranked No. 17th most-paranoid state in the U.S.
It’s a valid fear: Cyber-attacks happen every day — roughly 2,200 just in the U.S., which equates to over 800,000 every year, according to the University of Maryland.
To find which states were the most paranoid about potential cyber-attacks, experts at TechShielder looked at the number of Google searches in each state for security-related phrases (VPN, private browsing, incognito mode, delete cookies, change password, private search, erase history and clear cache).
North Carolina ranked No. 17 in the U.S. with 222.95 searches for security-related phrases per 100,000 people, according to a press release from TechShielder. There were a total of 23,150 searches among 10,383,620 people in North Carolina.
Paranoid on West Coast: California is the most paranoid state, with 301.64 searches per 100,000 population, and the least paranoid state is West Virginia, with 132 searches per 100,000 people.
Here are some tips to avoid a cyber-attack, according to TechShielder:
Educate yourself on how to spot suspicious emails. Check for obvious red flags such as bad grammar, requests for you to act urgently and requests for immediate payment.
Use strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed and make sure all your passwords are different for each device — laptop, phone and tablet.
Secure your wireless network with a password. This prevents unauthorized individuals from hijacking your wireless network.
Delete old files and cloud backups from your devices. Even if you delete them on your device, they’re still stored in your cloud account.
You might be interested in these Charlotte events
Events submitted by readers to The Ledger’s events board:
SATURDAY, FEB. 4: “Good As Helles” Karaoke Night, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Birdsong Brewing on North Davidson Street, Charlotte. Join us in celebrating the return of Good As Helles, our tropical dry-hopped lager. Let’s welcome back this popular beer with a song. Join the Birdsong Brewing staff and DJ Andre in our private event room, where you can grab a beer at the private bar, get your name on the list and sing your best karaoke tune. Free.
FRIDAY, FEB. 10: EMO Night at Divine Barrel Brewing, 7-11:30 p.m. at Divine Barrell Brewing in NoDa, Charlotte. DJ Donnybrook will spin a DJ set of Emo music, followed by a performance by TrEMOnt, who will play Emo hits. This is a family-friendly concert. Soul Gastro Food Truck will also be serving their gourmet menu in the Divine Barrel Brewing parking lot from 6 to 10 p.m. Free.
In memoriam: Longtime basketball broadcaster Billy Packer died Thursday, according to a post on Twitter by his son. He had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the last three weeks and succumbed to kidney failure, according to ESPN. He was 82.
2024 election poll: North Carolina voters favor likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson over Democratic candidate Josh Stein by a 42.4%-41.6% margin, according to a new poll from the N.C. Values Coalition and the N.C. Faith & Freedom Coalition. Republican primary voters favored Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump, 47.4%-35%, according to a press release.
Home Depot to invest $4M in HBCUs: The Home Depot announced Wednesday that it will quadruple its investment in HBCUs to $4M in 2023 as part of its Retool Your School program, according to a press release. The investment will go toward launching and expanding community projects and career resources for students, $2,500 scholarships for 60 students, and improvement grants for schools.
Real estate leadership news: Concord Realtor Leigh Brown was named the 2023 president of the NC REALTORS association during a ceremony Thursday. The theme for her presidency is “We Open Doors,” which “signals the REALTOR commitment to fair housing, homeownership and protecting the rights of owners across the state,” according to a press release from NC REALTORS, the state’s largest trade association.
CMS students advance to regional spelling bee🐝: The top three finishers from Thursday’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools spelling bee are headed to the Carolina Panthers Regional Spelling Bee at Bank of America Stadium March 5. Dhruva Srivatsa of Davidson K-8 placed first with the winning word of “peripheral.” Grace Cai of Irwin Academic Center placed second, and Emerson McVey of South Academy of International Languages finished third, according to a press release.
Sheriffs’ association gets unclaimed money: N.C. Treasurer Dale Folwell presented the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association with a check for $1,899 Wednesday — a sum that was identified as belonging to the Sheriffs’ Association during a recent review by the state treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division. “I am glad to be able to return this money to its rightful owners so that it can be used to further the mission of protecting the public,” Folwell said in a press release.
New restaurant coming to Wesley Heights: Restaurant Constance opens today in the Wesley Heights/FreeMoreWest neighborhood featuring seasonally inspired salads, meat and seafood entrees and non-alcoholic beverages. Executive chef/owner Sam Diminich, who was previously the executive chef of Upstream Restaurant in SouthPark, launched the restaurant as part of his Your Farms Your Table restaurant group which he started during the pandemic, according to a press release.
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Contributing photographer/videographer: Kevin Young, The 5 and 2 Project