Editor’s Note: The new Devils Lake Journal sports reporter, Chris L. Harris created an imaginative way to introduce himself to the Lake Region:
CHRIS HARRIS: You have a bit of an accent.
CHRIS L. HARRIS: We call it twang.

Editor’s Note: The new Devils Lake Journal sports reporter, Chris L. Harris created an imaginative way to introduce himself to the Lake Region:

CHRIS HARRIS: You have a bit of an accent.

CHRIS L. HARRIS: We call it twang.

CH: A ‘twang.’ So obviously you’re a southerner.

CLH: I am a born and bred North Carolinian. I grew up in a town called Whiteville, a town near the southeastern coast, about an hour west and northwest of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach respectively. Whiteville honestly isn’t much different than Devils Lake. Both downtowns have an old timey feel about them. Population difference is only about 2,000 more or less. Whiteville hosts the annual Pecan Harvest Festival every November that, like Devils Run, features a car show. Classic cars lined along the streets of downtown to be judged by the end of the festival. Whiteville, I guess, is best known for the burning courthouse in the 1996 film ‘Bastard out of Carolina’ starring Jennifer Leigh and Lyle Lovett. The hospital scenes in Nicholas Sparks’ film ‘The Choice’ were filmed in Whiteville’s hospital.

CH: Kind of active for a town of less than 5,700 people. CLH: Not really but OK, we can roll with that [laughs]. CH: I’m sure in a community with that little amount of people, sports is important. CLH: Growing up, I didn’t recognize it even with me participating in sports as a youth. It was just something everyone kind of did because there wasn’t anything else. In the fall you had recreation football, in the winter there was rec basketball and baseball in the spring and summer. Most of the kids did one or two of them. I believe all the kids played baseball at one time or another. There were few black boys on the diamond but we did participate until around middle school when you had to try-out for the team. Then we preferred to sit the spring out. But now that I’m older and looking from the outside, yes, sports is a community rallying cry. The high school I graduated from just won its ninth state baseball championship, its fourth in five years and I’m sure 40 percent of the community traveled the two hours to the championship site to watch them win it. CH: You said that you participated in sports as youth. Did it stop then?

CLH: Nah. I was fortunate enough to run track on the collegiate level. CH: University of North Carolina at Pembroke. CLH: Correct. UNCP. I was a walk-on partial scholarship athlete. CH: So you were good? CLH: [Laughs]. If you ask my schoolmates and those who know me back home they will say I may have been the fastest person they know personally. But no, I wasn’t good in track and field parlance. Just blessed. CH: Your major, English or Journalism? CLH: Mass Communications technically but my concentration was in Journalism. CH: How long have you been you been in the industry? CLH: Since 2006 in essence. All in sports. CH: What made you get into sports reporting?

CLH: I wasn’t much of a talker when I was younger but I fell in love with writing. I wanted to be like Langston Hughes, use my writing to have an impact on people. So the talent to write, combined with me being an athlete, sports writing became a natural career choice. CH: You mentioned Langston Hughes as an inspiration to write but were there any sports writers or journalists that you looked up to? CLH: I didn’t have access to national newspapers in Whiteville. The kiosks around town only carried the three local regional papers. I read the sports section from my hometown paper but I never viewed Dan [Biser, long time sports editor for the ‘News Reporter’] as an inspiration. I guess around my sophomore year at Pembroke, ESPN’s Page 2 came into existence so Scoop Jackson kinda became my must read. Today, I don’t read much of anyone. I have my own voice, I write my own way. I creatively craft stories that will make what ever subject I’m writing about an enjoyable read. With other journalists, I read for specific information, and not pay attention to their writing style.

CH: What was it about Jackson’s writing that was appealing to you? CLH: I guess I saw myself in him. CH: Your previous newspaper job was with the Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Virginia. That circulation is a whole lot more than the ‘DLJ.’ CLH: By about 100,000. CH: What did that experience with the RTD teach you that you can bring to a small press like the ‘DLJ?’ CLH: Sports, no matter the size of the publication or the city, is the same thing. The athletes love seeing their name in the paper, parents love cutting out the articles so the priority is name dropping along with crafting out enjoyable stories. I learned that before I arrived at the RTD. It was taught at the ‘Daily Dispatch’ in Henderson, North Carolina. The ‘Daily Dispatch’ is more closely related to the ‘DLJ’, both are small staffed, both have their presses in-house and both are the pulse of the community. That philosophy hasn’t wavered now over a decade and a large circulation later. CH: Goals you want to accomplish with the ‘DLJ?’

CLH: Expansion. I want to expand not only the sports section but each section of the DLJ. Expanding the sports section will involve increased coverage of both UND and NDSU. I’m from UNC and Duke country; my hometown falls within UNC Wilmington’s coverage range. I know how important our colleges and universities athletics mean to the communities. Athletic pride goes beyond the Firebirds and the Royals, it stretches to the Fighting Hawks and the Bison. Expansion would mean more local content, providing the community the community news they desire. Expansion mean increasing our social media presence. In the end, I do not want just the DLJ’s sports section to be better than what it is today, for DLJ’s sports section be something that the kids and parents of Ramsey County to be proud of, but all of DLJ to be better than what it is today. CH: Quick takes. Movies or books? CLH: Always books. CH: Last book you’ve read? CLH: Stephen King’s ‘Finders Keepers.’ It was mediocre. CH: Favorite book?

CLH: Can’t answer. I truly don’t know. CH: Favorite movie? CLH: ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes.’ CH: Wait, what? Didn’t expect to hear that. CLH: For the most part, I love the majority of the original Apes franchise. ‘Escape’ comes in at one, narrowly over ‘Conquest.’ The originals were very political, spoke about the the societial curiosity and fears of the 70s. Cornelius and Zira were treated like celebrities when it was found that they were intellectuals. But was just as quickly treated like, well, animals to be hunted down and eliminated when it was revealed that the human race would be replaced in the hierachy by apes. We see this today. We lift celebrities up just to tear them down. ‘Conquest’ was basically about a slave revolt. CH: So you’re political? CLH: How do you mean? CH: You will be writing columns for the ‘DLJ.’ Should we expect to see political views within your sports columns?

CLH: For my columns, I will give everyone my voice, I will give everyone my personality. Those are the promises that I can make. Determining if the columns are political will be left up to the readers. CH: Fill in the blank. The thing I’m most looking forward to working/living in Devils Lake is? CLH: To become part of the community. Being the sports reporter is about being among the readers. I will be on the sidelines, on the field, on the court, on the ice, with the athletes and coaches that I will be covering. The relationships forged between the community and me is important to me, especially as an implant, but also it is vital to bringing the community the news they desire to read with their morning coffee.

Chris L. Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com and on Twitter: @CLH_DLJ.