Sunday, November 21, 2010

A helpful guide for holiday giving

If you feel yourself drawn to the gift of giving this year, don’t miss The Charlotte Observer’s annual Giving Guide, inside this Sunday’s editions (Nov. 28).

Every year, our staff invites charities across the region to bring their needs directly to you through this guide.

All indications are that those needs are greater than ever.

Last year, we received 231 submissions. This year, the number skyrocketed to 379 submissions – an increase of 64 percent.

We all know that people are hurting in ways we’ve not seen in our lifetimes. They are the hungry, the homeless. They are children and they are the elderly. They are people stricken with disease, people struggling with disabilities. They are the newly unemployed, the newly uninsured.

These agencies are working to rescue them. But they are suffering from their own setbacks. Most have weathered severe reductions in funding even as more and more people are crowding through their doors.

If you have the capacity to help, now is a great time to lend a hand. It could be a monetary donation. It could be time to volunteer. Or, it could be the donation of something going unused in your home. You’ll see that many agencies are looking for specific items.

The guide will list the mission and needs of each agency. And if you go online, you can search it by the category of people being helped, by county and even by Zip code.

The web search will also let you submit an item you’d like to donate and match it to an agency that needs it.

For example, I typed “CD player” into the 2009 guide and it promptly let me know that Holy Angels Nursery was in need of one.

Through this guide, there are so many ways you can help. So, please, use it to reach out to someone less fortunate this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reader asks: Why not flag false claims?

M. Henry asks:

"Why does the Observer print letters to the editor without flagging false statements? The same question about political ads? I think you should print the letters or ads as submitted but point out the false statements."

What you are describing is an approach we often use to check the claims and assertions of political candidates and elected officials . We call it the "truth-squad" technique. We run what they've said publicly and let you know how truthful they've been.

But with letters to the editor and political ads, we have a much simpler solution. People are free to voice their opinion in these formats. But we do not knowingly allow false statements. If you've seen that, it wasn't intentional.

"We don't ever intentionally print false statements, " says Observer Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten. "We spend a lot of time independently verifying facts. We also go back to the letter writer if we still are in doubt. I can't say that we never miss a false statement, but that's our goal. "

The same is true with political advertising, says Observer Advertising Vice President Liz Irwin. When someone makes a questionable assertion in an ad, we ask for documentation. Absent that, the assertion comes out. If we get a complaint, we take it to the ad's sponsor for resolution. If that proves unsatisfactory, we pull the ad.

Those policies are consistent with the overall goal of the newspaper. which is to discover the truth and bring it to you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Thursday's Observer: Delicious, simple recipes

Look inside Thursday's Observer for a sneak preview of Dash, a magazine devoted to simple, fast and delicious meals.

Dash is produced by Parade magazine, in partnership with some of the best known brands in recipe publishing: bon app├ętit, and Gourmet.

This introductory issue focuses on “Your easiest Thanksgiving ever.” The magazine will appear monthly in the Observer, beginning in February.

Much like Parade, Dash is entertaining and easy reading. But in keeping with the theme, you’ll find an added emphasis on usefulness.

For instance, each of the five dishes featured for Thanksgiving can be made ahead of time. The magazine includes your own checklist for the grocery isle.

Other features include tailgating recipes, party dishes, a taste-test of instant cocoas (and, yes, they pick a favorite) and what to do with the leftover turkey.

You will find many more recipes from the magazine - updated daily - on's Food page.

Also, check out the magazine's Website, One helpful feature of the site is the user’s option to break down its archive of recipes into breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We hope you enjoy both the magazine and the site. Let us know what you think.