600 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Mission Statement: We deliver what people need to discover and understand the region.
Founded: The first Charlotte Daily Chronicle, predecessor of today's Charlotte Observer, rolled out on March 22, 1886, as a challenge from one faction of the Democratic Party to a bloc led in large part by the publisher of the Charlotte Daily Observer, founded in 1869. In August 1887, the overwhelmed Observer folded; in 1892, the Chronicle took its name.
Trumpeting the "New South" and the Charlotte region's industrialization, the Observer thrived in the early 20th century. Two months before the 1929 stock market crash, its publisher, sensing danger, sold his NYSE holdings at a huge profit, amassing the cash to expand operations during the Depression by taking advantage of cheap newsprint.
The Observer was privately owned until the Knights bought it in 1954 for $7.225 million. Three years later, the Knights also acquired the afternoon Charlotte News, for $1 million. A new building opened in 1971 and helped spur a wave of uptown development that continues. In 1974, the Knight and Ridder newspaper corporations merged. The Charlotte Observer joined McClatchy in 2006 with McClatchy's purchase of Knight Ridder.
General Hiring Contact: Human Resources Department, The Charlotte Observer, 600 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202, 704-358-5710
Distinction: The Charlotte Observer reflects the region. The Observer heavily covers development and schools -- factors strongly affected by rampant growth in the city and the region -- and continues deep coverage of the area's traditional interests: banking, business, industry, religion and stock-car racing. The paper tackles controversial economic and social issues and is innovative in creating new products. The staff has won four Pulitzer Prizes, including two Gold Medals for Public Service.
Market: As the epicenter of the region's growth boom, Charlotte is growing up and spilling out. Charlotte is No. 5 in the Untied States in yearly population growth among metro cities of 500,000-plus population; Union County to the east is first in North Carolina and 16th in the country; York County to the south is second in South Carolina. The Observer prints editions for North Carolina (first edition), South Carolina (second) and the metro center (final). At least once a week, five counties and three parts of Mecklenburg County each receive targeted sections of local news and advertising. The Observer maintains bureaus in five metro counties and in two high-growth parts of Mecklenburg.
Circulation Area: The Observer distributes in 35 North and South Carolina counties -- mostly in the home county, Mecklenburg (50 percent), and contiguous counties: Cabarrus, Catawba, Gaston, Lincoln, Iredell, Union, and York (S.C.). Charlotte dominates the geographic center of its home county, Mecklenburg, and the north is rapidly urbanizing as three once-small towns absorb growth on the east side of Lake Norman, North Carolina's largest man-made lake. Twenty years ago, adjacent counties, mostly farmland, were dotted with textile plants. As textiles (and furniture) migrated overseas and Charlotte became a major national business hub, those counties attracted heavy residential and commercial development because of lower land prices and lower taxes.
Customers: Compared to the general DMA population, Observer weekday readers are:
Site: A 414,225-square-foot complex completed in 1971 in uptown Charlotte houses Observer operations. The five-story main building occupies a block overlooking the center city's beltway. The Observer also owns most of an adjacent block -- employee parking, newsprint storage, shipping/receiving and packaging -- between the main building and the NFL Panthers' Bank of America Stadium.
Readership (average): 505,797 daily; 741,166 Sunday
Circulation: 196,114 Monday-Friday; 219,278 Saturday; 253,374 Sunday
Average Size: 44 pages daily; 82 pages Sunday
Single-Copy Sales: 12.2% daily; 23.5% Sunday
Carrier Force: Adult independent contractors
Production: Four flexographic press lines of eight units and 28 couples each. Two of the lines were installed in 1995-96 and are Man Roland MLP and Flexoman units with HUR 45 reel stands. The remaining two are hybrids -- two Man Roland MLP units (installed in 1996) and six Flexoman units (originally installed in 1988-1990 and reconfigured in 1996) -- with HOE Colormatic reel stands (from the 1950s).
Color: 48 pages/16 full color Monday-Thursday (straight press mode); 96 pages/32 full color Friday, Saturday, Sunday (collect press mode)
Employees: 900 full-time; 350 part-time
Bureaus: In addition to its headquarters building in uptown Charlotte, the Observer operates offices in these places:
Major Advertisers: Dillard's, Belk, Allen Tate Realtors, Sprint
Well-known Newsroom Personalities: Scott Fowler and Tom Sorensen, sports columnists; Dannye Romine Powell, Tommy Tomlinson and Mary C. Curtis, local news columnists; Tonya Jameson, pop culture columnist and Paid to Party blogger; Doug Smith, business and real estate columnist; Jeff Elder, Insider and Glad You Asked columnist; Leigh Dyer, Newcomer columnist and blogger; Nancy Brachey, gardening writer; Allen Norwood, home and home improvement writer
Community Involvement: Each year, the Observer barters ad space for brand exposure at more than 50 events that focus on one of these categories: women, the arts, community enrichment, sports and newcomers.
The Observer donates money to United Way; the Arts & Science Council; selected nonprofits in the arts and health; and groups with constituencies strategic to the Observer.
Support for families and education has been a key focus for decades: Empty Stocking Fund, generating food and toys for needy families during the holidays for more than 75 years; Charlotte Observer Regional Spelling Bee, sending its champion for more than 50 years to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee; All-Star Scholars Banquet, recognizing and rewarding high school scholars for more than 50 years.
The Market: The business of Charlotte is business, and the biggest business is banking. Wachovia and Bank of America swell the city's banking assets to more than $2 trillion, second in the United States only to New York. Seven other members of the Fortune 500 also are headquartered in Charlotte, including Nucor -- the nation's most profitable steel maker -- and Duke Energy. In all, 311 of the Fortune 500 have facilities in Charlotte. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is under construction, and NASCAR Valley just to the north of Charlotte is the international center of research and development for stock-car racing.
Charlotte's geography, transportation assets and business atmosphere have pushed growth in the Metropolitan Statistical Area to 6 percent annually -- a rate that is 16th in the nation -- and the city is the nation's 20th largest. Young executives come to kick-start careers in banking and finance, corporate administration, manufacturing (1,027 companies with annual payrolls totaling nearly $2 billion), transportation, distribution, technology and medicine. Students flock to Johnson & Wales (culinary and business university), UNC-Charlotte and other universities. Carolinians pour in to see the NFL Panthers.
One county cannot hold all that energy. Counties touching Mecklenburg gain bedroom communities, the services that feed them, and the commercial/industrial spillover as companies demand less expensive land and lower taxes reasonably close to Charlotte. The market also has become a magnet for retirees seeking reasonable home prices; proximity to Charlotte's cultural, shopping and medical assets; short travel time to beaches, mountains, lakes and golf; and a climate that has mild winters and defined seasons.
Location: Charlotte's city limits stretch to the South Carolina border. This largest North Carolina city is halfway between Miami and New York; four hours from Atlanta; three-and-a-half hours from the port and coastal resorts at Wilmington; two-and-a half hours from Raleigh, the state capital; and two hours from Asheville, hub of the state's mountain resorts.
The Catawba River, 15 miles west of uptown Charlotte, is a geographic fortune. The founders of Duke Energy dammed the river in the early 1900s to form Lake Wylie, which has 314 miles of shoreline at the juncture of Mecklenburg, Gaston and York (S.C.) counties. Then, in the mid 1900s, came the crown jewel: Lake Norman with its 512 miles of shoreline in Mecklenburg, Lincoln, Catawba and Iredell counties.
Charlotte dominates the Piedmont Carolinas in part because its early boosters during the mid-1800s convinced railroaders to make Charlotte a rail hub, connecting to Atlanta, Washington and other points. Money, then as now, was key: From the early 1800s to 1849, Charlotte was the gold-mining capital of the nation and had gained a U.S. mint.
Transportation: Two interstate highways (I-85 and I-77); two railroads that form the largest consolidated rail network in the country; Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is the eighth busiest in the nation and averages more than 640 daily flights and serves more than 35 million passengers each year (The top five markets served by the airport are Atlanta, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago and Newark.); a foreign trade zone and an inland port all help keep Charlotte's economy humming.
Charlotte DMA Statistics:
Population: 2.9 million (24th largest DMA in the country)
5-Year Projected DMA Growth Rate: 9%
Ethnic Makeup: 74% white; 18% African American; 5% Latino; 3% Other
Median Age: 44
Average Income: $68,293
Median Home Value: $165,080
52.5% have at least some college education
23.4% have college or post-graduate degrees
More DMA Facts:
Average annual temperature -- 60.1 degrees
Average annual precipitation -- 43.1 inches
Average number of sunny days -- 214
Annual snow accumulation average -- 6 inches
Major Employers/Industries: Carolinas Healthcare System, Wachovia, Bank of America, Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Duke Energy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Major Retailers: Belk Department Store, Dillard's, Macy's, Target, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Wal-Mart, Value City, Kohl's, JCPenney, Dick's Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shop
Higher Learning: Davidson College, Davidson, N.C. (private); Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte (private); Queens University, Charlotte (private); University of North Carolina at Charlotte (public); Winthrop University, Rock Hill, S.C. (South Carolina public university system); Wingate University, Wingate, N.C. (private)
Culture: The North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in uptown Charlotte is one of the nation's premier halls and home for the Charlotte Symphony, Opera Carolina, North Carolina Dance Theatre and national tours. Rock concerts and performances such as Cirque du Soleil's Delirium perform three blocks away in the Bobcats Arena.
Also uptown are the nationally acclaimed Mint Museum of Craft + Design (studio crafts in ceramics, glass, wood, fiber and metals); the Discovery Place hands-on science museum that includes educational interactive exhibits and The Charlotte Observer Omnimax Theatre; ImaginOn, with its children's library and a performance hall for Charlotte's Children's Theatre; the Levine Museum of the New South; the Afro-American Cultural Center; the Community School of the Arts; Spirit Square, which includes exhibits, artist workspaces and a performance hall; and the McColl Center for the Visual Arts, a former church that houses exhibits and artist work spaces.
Uptown Charlotte will gain another museum -- housing a collection donated by the Bechtler family -- and performance hall when the Wachovia First Street Cultural Campus is finished in 2009 in a block adjacent to the Observer building.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library is the primary venue for the annual Novello Festival of Reading, which in the fall brings together dozens of regional and national authors. Each year, the festival is a sell-out. Other festivals include Festival in the Park, with visual arts and performances; and two events that close uptown streets, Taste of Charlotte, with food and music, and Speed Week, which celebrates Charlotte's major NASCAR event, the Coca-Cola 600.
In addition to the symphony, the city has three additional orchestras and numerous choruses. There are the Charlotte Youth Ballet and three theater groups in addition to the Children's Theatre.
The Carolina Raptor Center; the Nature Museum; the Charlotte Museum of History; the Mint Museum of Art, with its acclaimed collection of pottery and procelain; Wing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary; and the Light Factory with exhibits and classes on photography, video, film and the internet round out the city's cultural platter.
Sports: The NFL Carolina Panthers; the NBA Charlotte Bobcats; NASCAR's Lowe's Motor Speedway; the PGA Tour's Wachovia Championship; the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center, which hosts major swimming events; and the National Whitewater Center place Charlotte in the national big leagues. The city also is home to baseball's AAA Charlotte Knights, the Eastern Hockey League's Checkers and collegiate athletic programs at UNC-Charlotte, Davidson, Johnson C. Smith and Queens.
Short drives from Charlotte are collegiate programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference (Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Wake Forest) and the Southeast Conference (South Carolina). Each year, the Meineke Car Care Bowl (ACC vs. Big East teams or Navy) is held at Bank of America Stadium. In 2008, Charlotte will be a major destination for college basketball as it hosts the CIAA tournament, the ACC tournament and first- and second-round games in the NCAA tournament.
Major Annual Events: Festival In The Park; Southern Spring Show; Southern Christmas Show; Southern Women's Show; Novello Festival of Reading; Charlotte Shout Festival of Arts; National Balloon Rally; Speed Street; CityFest Live; Queen's Cup Steeplechase; Renaissance Festival; Loch Normal Highland Games; Taste of Charlote; Christmastown USA; Greek, Italian, Indian, Native American, Latino and Asian festivals
Tourist Attractions: Discovery Place and its Observer Omnimax Theater; ImaginOn; Mint Museum of Art; Mint Museum of Craft + Design; Levine Museum of the New South; Carolina Raptor Center; Paramount/Carowinds Theme Park; Andrew Jackson Memorial & Museum; Energy Explorium; Reed Gold Mine State Historic Site; Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens; Billy Graham Library; future site of the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Recreation: From gallery crawls to driving Lowe's Motor Speedway with the Richard Petty Driving Experience, tourists and Charlotte leisure seekers find a range of recreation. The city's environs is home to the U.S. National Whitewater Center; 210 city and county parks; 16 country clubs; 57 public and private golf courses; 985 swimming pools; 17 disc golf courses; and fishing, boating, skiing and swimming at Lake Norman and Lake Wylie. Mountain and beach resorts and golfing centers are within easy driving distance.
Nightlife: Dining, cultural events and dance and comedy clubs extend from uptown into center-city neighborhoods such as Dilworth, South End, NoDa, Plaza-Midwood adn Elizabeth. Other areas -- Myers Park/SouthPark, Northlake/Birkdale and Stonecrest/Ballantye -- offer dining and entertainment. Charlotte has several major concert venues including two amphitheaters, a new arena and multiple performance halls.
Claim to Fame: Second-largest banking center in the United States (after New York) and home of the tallest building in the Southeast -- the 60-story Bank of America corporate headquarters; home of the NFL Carolina Panthers, the NBA Charlotte Bobcasts, the PGA Tour's Quail Hollow Championship; Lowe's Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Famous Citizens: Evangelist Billy Graham; TV commentator Charles Kuralt; artist Romare Bearden; actor Randolph Scott; composer and pianist Loonis McGlohon; Harry Golden, editor of Carolina Israelite and author of best-selling books; Hugh McColl, retired CEO, Bank of America; W.J. Cash, author of "The Mind of The South"' retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong, author of numerous books; Jim Beatty, the first human to run an indoor mile under four minutes; sports figures Ric Flair (pro wrestling), Rick Hendrick (NASCAR team owner) and Michael Jordan (Charlotte Bobcats owner).
Trivia: In 1799, a boy discovered a glittery rock in a creek and hauled it home. His family used it as a doorstop for three years before a jeweler recognized it as gold. Subsequently, Charlotte became the center of the first U.S. gold rush and was the U.S. gold-mining capital until California's gold rush of 1849. Today, abandoned gold mines honeycomb much of the ground under Charlotte's uptown.
Sports teams have used the name "hornets" in Charlotte because Generall Cornwallis, during the American Revolution, referred to Charlotte as a hornets' nest after elements of his army met constant harassment and stiff resistance in a foray into the town. Charlotte's first NBA franchise was named "Hornets" and kept the name after relocating to New Orleans.
(This profile was last updated on Jan. 26, 2012)