Robert Horne, the editor of a small town North Carolina newspaper, resigned on Tuesday after asking the sheriff for publicly available information about gun permits and then receiving a flood of hate mail. Horne tells media blogger Jim Romenesko that the publisher of the Cherokee Scout newspaper didn't pressure him to quit, rather he made the tough decision "so the Cherokee Scout can move forward" from the small scandal that it's been saddled with the past few days. The hate mail certainly didn't help. Oh, and Horne also plans to leave the state in the next few months.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Horne made the request last week, and despite state law, the Sheriff Kevin Lovin denied the request and posted Horne's letter on Facebook. He included the caption, "My Office will continue to support the constitution and all amendments including the Second Amendment." As the sheriff surely anticipated, the letter sparked outrage in the community, and only three days after the Horne's request, Cherokee Scout publisher David Brown published an absolutely fawning apology not only to the paper's readers but also to Sheriff Lovin who, Brown said, "had the best interests of the people of Cherokee County at heart when he denied the request." This was a sharp departure from the tone critical of Lovin that Brown had taken in a letter to readers the day before.
Whether he said he was pressured or not, it seems like Horne got the message. Cherokee County, North Carolina is not a place that likes journalists coming in snooping around and asking questions about their guns. The Cherokee Scout will run a brief story explaining Horne's resignation. It includes no mention of the gun incident, though it does make sure to note that award-winning editor is also a veteran of the Marines. As for Horne, well like we said before, he's getting the heck out of North Carolina. "I hope to find a job in the profession," he told Romenesko. "I still love newspapers."