Columnist: Bob Ashley

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 09:28 AM

Patriotism scarce? No, it abounds in many forms

As the Fourth of July, that most patriotic of American holidays, approached last week, Bill O’Reilly and Charles Krauthammer on Fox News ginned up the specter of a patriotism crisis in the country.


Jun. 26, 2014 @ 07:09 PM

Durham’s robust economy promises to continue

If you have, as I do, a sense that Durham’s economic buoyancy over the past several years is about to kick into an even higher gear, a study released last week provided a significant confirmation.


Jun. 14, 2014 @ 01:59 PM

Industry realizing valuable news merits a price tag

A couple decades ago, I was in a crowded, stuffy hotel room at a group editors’ meeting, looking over the shoulder of an editor from the San Jose Mercury News. He was demonstrating the paper’s new on-line news operation.


Dec. 20, 2014 @ 02:17 PM

Students love Apple – but they love their libraries, too

Not long after I moved back here a decade ago, I observed to a Duke professor that I was struck that virtually every student I saw on campus seemed to be on a cell phone or displaying the tell-tale dangling white cords of iPod earbuds.


Dec. 14, 2014 @ 03:38 PM

‘Outsider’ label an old weapon against protestors

Protestors who have filled city streets have succeeded in driving a community conversation not just about police practices, the criminal justice system, race and society, but also about protest itself.


Dec. 06, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Insistence on ‘exceptionalism’ can distort our history

“Don't know much about history

“Don't know much biology

“Don't know much about a science book

“Don't know much about the French I took”

-- Sam Cooke, “Wonderful World,”


Nov. 29, 2014 @ 10:37 AM

Cataclysmic events help define or shape generations

Nov. 22 passed relatively quietly eight days ago. Not much was made of the cataclysmic event that occurred 51 years before, although it was mentioned here and there in the news.


Nov. 22, 2014 @ 12:25 PM

A valued colleague takes on new opportunities

Alert readers will notice a familiar name missing from our masthead – that of Nancy Wykle.

Let me assure you it reflects great news. Nancy, a valued colleague for the past decade, has been promoted to editor and publisher of the Daily Dispatch in Henderson, owned, as is The Herald-Sun, by the Paxton Media Group.


Nov. 15, 2014 @ 09:55 AM

Should we question the model of student (briefly) athletes?

The national debate over big-time college athletics, given greater impetus in the past couple of decades as television and marketing revenue has fueled soaring expenditures, has in the past year or so deepened further.


Nov. 01, 2014 @ 11:41 PM

Wise words on college athletics from a former colleague

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished after many fits and starts a wonderful book by my old friend and former colleague Ed Williams.

Williams, now retired, was for many years editor of the editorial pages at The Charlotte Observer, and for several of those years I was a mid-level editor on the news side of the paper. His book, “Liberating Dixie,” is a collection of columns and editorials he crafted with characteristic grace, wisdom and incisiveness over the years. Reading it was in some ways discouraging, since I was reminded on page after page how I could never measure up to the caliber of Williams’ work.


Oct. 25, 2014 @ 11:52 PM

A short decade later, what a change for downtown

When Argos Therapeutics president and CEO Jeff Abbey talked about his company’s decision to come to Durham last week, he offered this anecdote:

““(We knew) we made the right decision when we got the whole company together and told them we would be in Durham … and this cheer went up from all 90 people.”


Oct. 18, 2014 @ 10:56 AM

What if court rulings’ critics invoked “Sharia law….”

I’ve met Michael Burbidge, the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Raleigh – which encompasses Durham – a couple of times.  He regularly reaches out to media in his diocese. He’s personable, measured, eager to listen and clearly a caring individual.


Oct. 11, 2014 @ 06:09 PM

Bring on the millennials, ‘welcome and accepting’

Monday, National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” aired a five-minute segment titled “Why You Should Start Taking Millennials Seriously.”

The next day, the U. S. Supreme Court vaulted same-sex marriage to the cusp of legality from coast to coast when it declined to review five appellate court rulings that bans on those marriages are unconstitutional.


Oct. 04, 2014 @ 01:25 PM

Thoughts on conservation, traffic, sense of place

I suspect no one wants to know what I did on vacation, but indulge me a few precautionary, perhaps even pessimistic, thoughts.


Sep. 27, 2014 @ 01:11 PM

Ashley: Vacation reflections on bunkered air travel

I fly a lot less these days than I have, and for that I am mostly grateful.