“Sportin Life” goes ByeBye at News&Observer

Barry Saunders
Agent Pierce
July19/ 2017

Sportin’ Life goes Bye Bye at News&Observer

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I always figured that Barry “Sportin’ Life” Saunders would be the Last Man Standing as The News & Observer sank inexorably into a bottomless pit of very very red ink.

I, AgentPierce, stand before you to admit I was wrong.

Barry be gone and The N&O is still on life support. Barry-ly.

The once-haughty-now-pathetic newspaper has not technically “flat-lined”. Ergo, I was technically wrong in my prediction… but not by much.

Yesterday, July 18, 2017, “Sportin’ Life” (1) signed his Keep My Mouth Shut… Or Else form; and (2) snatched his severance check from the clamy hand of either the N&O publisher, the editor or some HR flunky; and bid a not-very-fond farewell to his employer of the past 24 years.

I suspect it was either the publisher or the editor.  That’s just a guess. One or more security personnel were likely in the room…  When you can as many people as The N&O does, you learn the process can get “messy”.

NOTE: I nicknamed N&O columnist Barry Saunders “Sportin’ Life” some years ago. Less than 8% of you had a clue where that came from.

Porgy & Bess

Sportin’ Life is a central character in George Gershwin’s classic all-black Broadway play Porgy & Bess. The character was a jive-talking street hustler. Pretty much the persona that Barry Saunders chose for himself in his columns. It was the PERFECT nickname for Barry.

I also referred to Saunders as “The Colonel” as in Colonel Saunders of KFC fame. One of the 100s of former N&Oers around The Triangle told me once Barry hated that name.  I tried to use it whenever possible. But Sportin’ Life was more better.

In my opinion… Barry Saunders is a very accomplished wordsmith, columnist, writer, humorist, race-baiter, and general-purpose provocateur.

His job description was piss off the white male baby boomers in North Raleigh and Cary.  He did that job very well in his heyday.  I always figured he got a bonus every time an enraged white male reader threatened to cancel his subscription over some jive-ass insult Barry had made in a column.

In recent years “cancelled subscriptions” stopped being a joking matter at The N&O.

Redd Foxx

I should add… Barry is also an accomplished archivist of the complete works of Redd Foxx / Fred Sanford.

I have never met Barry Saunders nor exchanged words with him in any format that I am aware of.

The formal announcement of Saunders’ departure was “interesting” in several respects…

1. There was a glaring absence of any of the usual phrases such as “retiring” or “pursuing other career options” or “going on sabbatical” or “entering WITSEC” or “signing on with Rev “Bully” Barber as his Man Friday”. Nada… nuthin’ as to Barry’s future.

2. There was a glaring absence of any quote whatsoever from Barry himself. You know the usual yadda yadda about “so many wonderful memories… so many incredibly wonderful people”… “I’ve been blessed to have…”… Nada… nuthin’. …. Huummm!

There was an effusively glowing This Is Your Life Barry Saunders scrapbook account of his more provocative works. There were the usual quotes from the usual area left-wing luminaries that will still take a call from anyone at The News & Observer. But no “future plans”… no quote from Barry.

My best guess scenario… having spoken with more than a few “former N&Oers”. Despite the Keep Your Mouth Shut… or Else form they all report what a gawd-awful depressing place The N&O has become in it’s lingering death throes. I’ve been hearing versions of that for 3-4 years.

Imagine the most depressing “old folks home” you’ve ever visited. Imagine the “smell of death and dying and hopelessness”. Picture the looks on the faces of those shuffling down the hallways… either afraid they might die today or tomorrow… or afraid they WON’T. Both options equally depressing

Imagine having to exist another day or week surrounded by empty cubicles… imagining the echoes of long-gone co-workers last seen carrying their cardboard box of “personal items” out the door as a security guard confiscated their IDs.

Imagine the only reason you are still there is (1) there is nowhere else to go… (2) the last check you got did clear the bank and hopefully the next one will too… but who knows for sure.

Imagine being at The News & Observer today… next week… next month?

When Barry’s turn came, it ain’t like Sportin’Life hadn’t rehearsed this scene.

I doubt he played the…. YOU CAN’T FIRE ME…. I’m Barry… I’m Black… I know people who will pop a cap on yo sorry white asses… blah blah blah.  But maybe?

I’m guessing Barry was pulling down around $150,000 since he was “Barry Saunders” for 24 years.

I’m guessing that put him in a very small elite payroll group with RobRielleWho Christensen and “That Damn” Dan Kane. Maybe Op/Ed Editor/ Weasel Ned “DUI” Barnett but maybe not.

Barry became economically unretainable.

I’m guessing N&O Publisher / Editor whoever offered Barry the either/or of “take a sizable pay cut OR… sign this Keep Your Mouth Shut… or Else form and hit the bricks dude.”

The empty cardboard box the security goon was holding might have been a clue.

Barry chose the OR… and exited somewhat acrimoniously… as most/all such encounters tend to go.

So now… who gets to “turn out the lights” when the final STOP THE PRESSES is uttered?

I’m betting it’ll be Jim Jenkins. “Jenks” is the Op/Ed something or other. No one really knows what “Jenks” does. He has been lurking around South McDowell Street since Frank Daniels Jr was riding a tricycle.

But hey… I was wrong about Barry.

###

Epilogue:  To Phil Berger:  Yo Phil PLEASE DO NOT issue some piece o’ crap statement about how “I never knew what Barry’s politics was”.  DON”T PHIL!

MORE of AgentPierce …. LINK

 

  • Skip Crayton Reply
    3 months ago

    They couldn’t even bring down UNC for cheating when they had all the evidence. They got beat…or maybe they didn’t want to win that one. UNC has a journalism school…or they used to.

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      The N&O is not a law enforcement agency or The NCAA. “They”, i.e. “Damn Dan” Kane, has kept it alive for eight+ years. It ain’t over yet.

  • Radio_Smuggles Reply
    3 months ago

    Drip….Drip….Drip….Drip….I love it.

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      We may be witnessing an uptick in that dripping. 🙂

  • Cheryl.Dunn Reply
    3 months ago

    AgentPierce, your scenario makes perfect sense. I have no doubt that is how all this went down. My question is HOW do you know all about this? Are you really a “mole” deep inside The N&O? Do you have their offices bugged?

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      Well, I have been in their executive offices but it was 12-15 years ago. The bugs I planted then have all expired. They were a big help during the Duke Lacrosse Debacle. 🙂
      .
      Really, it isn’t rocket surgery or brain science. And we certainly aren’t dealing with the brightest bulbs on the newspaper tree. Some of my info comes from exN&Oers who really really don’t like “the suits” still running the dying show. Most of my “guesses” are simply knowing their tendencies in the past and projecting. They are so used to blatantly lying to their readers, it isn’t hard to watch their noses grow like little Pinocchios.

  • Former96heel Reply
    3 months ago

    Lemme guess, a former Yahoo employee??? Or AOL? Anyone with that skill set is not going to work for the old buggy whip.
    .
    Father McClatchy not left leaning nationally? Isn’t Kevin a proud Gaystapo leader? I’m thinknig if any of their editorial boards did not support Hilary, they would be paid in McClatchy stock options.
    .
    Mr Burns aka Buffett or Bezos could buy it up with pocket change and continue the Lib drumbeat forever, without worrying about the cash bleed. There are plenty of unemployable J-school grads willing to write the stock column for next to nothing.
    .
    Charlotte Observer is even more sad. 15-20 years ago there were about a dozen writers who consistently put out consumable product. Decent regional development news from a hometown writer who had a local perspective. Robust sports reporting. A religion writer, social scene person, etc. Even a few old time exposes that those types always fawn over (PTL being a major one for them). I tried to subscribe several years ago thinking the coupons and paywall access would be worth it, but the breeze would blow it out of my front yard before I could get to it. Now that their paywall is back up, I use the TV stations’ webpage for local news now.

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      Pretty much anything either paper tries is a desperation play that flops out of the gate. They are scrambling for ANYTHING that might generate a plugged nickel.
      .
      What’s left of either news staffs are a handful of mid 20-ish millennial whack jobs. They have ditched all the veterans because they were too high salaried. They can get these millennial puppies to work for dog biscuits and a byline.
      .
      It’s all going to get worse for them with each passing week and month.

  • Vernon Hill Reply
    3 months ago

    THE NEWS OBSERVER HAS BEEN DYING FOR SEVERAL YEARS AS THEY HAVE FAILED TO DO NEWS WITHOUT EVER TELLING THE TRUTH, BUT SLANTED EVERYTHING IN THEIR FAVOR, OPINION, OR LIES AS THEY WERE NEVER EVER ABLE TO JUST REPORT THEBACTUAL FACTS AND TRUTH……HOPEFULLY WRAL TV WILL ALSO GO TO HELL SHORTLY….

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      The two area McClatchy papers are toast. Just a matter of pulling the plugs in Charlotte and Raleigh. Looking back at their strategic blunders is a fun exercise that their sizable egos will not permit.
      .
      It will be harder to RIP WRAL as TV is still a viable media form. Look for Jim Goodmon Jr to try and sell CBC in the next several years. A new owner might not be as ideologically deranged as Jim Goodmon Sr… hopefully.

  • geek49203 Reply
    3 months ago

    The N&O still mystifies me. If their goal was, is, a death wish, then they’re right on target. But their owners surely must notice the massive cash hemorrhaging? I hate to say it, but I find the national McClatchy almost.. reasonable? So why are they allowing their NC properties to continue in the death wish?

    • Agent Pierce Reply
      3 months ago

      To be “fair”… McClatchy has no options at this point. Trying to attract non-radical left-wing readers (i.e. 50%+ of regional population) is a long lost cause. They permanently alienated that population 10-15 years ago.
      .
      When information technology hit the printed newspaper industry like a tsunami they were totally clueless… and here they are.
      .
      Their option (?) is to shut down altogether or sell off their assets at $.10 on the dollar to some poor fool that thinks he can make “a newspaper” viable again.

      • NCSU77 Reply
        3 months ago

        McClatchy is truly a sinking ship. They lost 34 million last year and 95 million last quarter. The whole company is only has a net worth of $20 million. Three years ago the stock was trading a $50 per share, today about $8.50. The second quarter report is due out Friday. It will be interesting to see if BS’s departure is tied to a really bad quarter. The upshot is that McClatchy is running out of time and money pretty quickly.

        • Agent Pierce Reply
          3 months ago

          Kidding aside… sorta…. canning their most “popular” longtime columnist is a petty BFD. It is a desperation play with zero upside to them. PLUS… it hurts them with their most loyal, but CHEAP, constituency – the Triangle AfAm community they have bent over backwards pandering to the past ten years.

          • NCSU77
            3 months ago

            I saw the farewell article on Sportin Life in the digital print version of that empty shell know as the N&O. I know, I shouldn’t bother reading it, but the Da Wife insist on having a subscription. At least it’s digital only. Anyway, the N&O’s number one columnist ( or is he their only columnist) doesn’t get a front page goodbye – he’s on page three; and with no quotes. Guess the exit interview did not go well.

          • Agent Pierce
            3 months ago

            YA THINK! Ya think flex cuffs and a taser mighta been involved?
            .
            Everything about this screams “didn’t go well”. I don’t care for Barry or The N&O so the messier for all concerned the better.
            .
            Tell “da wife” that both coupons and obituaries are obtainable elsewhere.

      • goose Reply
        3 months ago

        Yea, but they must be really ringing the cash register now with the new paywall…..

        • Agent Pierce Reply
          3 months ago

          The newest publisher is, supposedly, a digital revenue generator specialist…. YEE HAA!

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