Shortly after James Stephens III was named "Tar Heel of the Week" by the News & Observer (story here), his wife contacted the N&O to ask how somebody with an assault record could be named Tar Heel of the Week, according to the tipster.
James Stephens III was reportedly selected for the honor by a friend of N&O publisher, Orage Quarles. Due to a series of goof ups by the local sheriff's department, Stephens' assault arrest from December didn't emerge during the background check.
But once Stephens' wife (the victim) relayed information about the arrest, N&O reporters wanted to do a followup story disclosing the new information to readers -- but senior editor Linda Williams inserted herself in the situation and told the reporters to leave it alone.
Williams apparently says Stephens' possible arrest is "not important" and the reporters should move along. Reporters are not happy that Williams is clamping down on information that should be shared with N&O subscribers.
UPDATED: John Drescher told John in Carolina this report is not true and the N&O is working on a response.
UPDATED #2: Matt Ehlers photo removed 4/28 at request of N&O.
UPDATE #3: N&O finally publishes pitiful response... N&O reports assault charge but doesn't mention whether Linda Williams tried to spike the story.