Random Idea: The News & Record Newspaper

Posted by on December 4, 2013

This is part of a series of RPG characters, creatures, items, adventure ideas, and locations inspired by random entries from Wikipedia. The material I create may grow distant from its roots.

Today we have the News & Record, a North Carolina newspaper. It consolidated several papers during the 20th century, and has since followed the common trend of shrinkage and layoffs. Berkshire Hathaway bought it earlier this year.

Instead of setting this up as a plot hook itself, let’s re-skin the News & Record as a background setting for a modern investigation game. Whether you’re paranormal investigators, private detectives, or just normal reporters who get involved in Something Big, this could be an excellent employer.


'newspaper clippings shelftop (detail)' by carmichaellibrary on Flickr (CC-BY)

‘newspaper clippings shelftop (detail)’ by carmichaellibrary on Flickr (CC-BY)

Everybody in town knows the News & Record. Operating under one name or another for over a hundred years, the News & Record boasts a relatively large staff of nearly 200 employees, with an editorial staff of about 25 reporters, journalists, columnists, and editors.

Jack Gunner epitomizes the stereotype of newspaper editor. Sleep-deprived, coffee-fueled, manic, and obsessive about the English language, Jack once held up the special edition for 45 minutes arguing with a writer about the placement of a hyphen. He insists on the highest standards of both English language use and reporting, insisting on dozens of rewrites. He more or less lives in his office, which is crammed full of stacks of paper. He claims to have a wife and children, but nobody’s ever seen them.

His manic drive is partly caused by his boss, Pepper Paul. Pepper’s family took over the paper over fifty years ago, and she’s determined to keep it running despite competition from an internet she doesn’t understand. She attends at least a hundred local social events every year, ensuring that the News & Record gets at least some mention during the event. Her constant wining-and-dining of local businesses and philanthropists unquestionably kept the paper alive for the past 20 years. In her late 50’s and always dressed in flamboyant yet tasteful clothing, her nickname “The Battleship” is well-earned.

Rounding out this triumvirate is Alan Jones, head of Editorial. An outwardly laid-back ex-hippie with a pony tail, he chooses columnists and letters-to-the-editor. He’s grown infamous for choosing radicals. Some days, the editorial pages crackle with dissent and argument. The Sunday editorials are legendary for their nearly libellous columns. He delights in this. Pepper appreciates the publicity but rues the constant need to smooth ruffled feathers, while Jack finds editorializing in general vaguely villainous.

These are the powers-that-be at a newspaper begging for talent. Jack would love another investigative reporter or two, and while he’ll veto unorthodox practices, Pepper would likely approve them. Meanwhile, Alan gets the paper in hot water all the time, and anyone who can investigate his writers’ claims–or even write one or two–would earn his appreciation.

And if nothing else, if a group of unusual characters gets into trouble or accomplishes something unusual, a reporter from the News & Record is bound to start snooping around.

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