President Barack Obama took note of it in his State of the Union address last month. Republican hopefuls for their party’s nomination to take on Obama in the November elections have been dragged into talking about it, too.

This is a welcome discussion. It is linked to the heart of the current malaise in this country - that the opportunity to succeed in the U.S. is now severely constricted - and it batters an ideal that Americans hold dear - that with hard work anybody can get ahead.

Far too many Americans see the opportunity door closed.

Earlier this month, Flono and her colleagues on the Observer editorial board made the unusual decision to rescind a candidate endorsement in the Republican primary for U.S. House District 9 after the candidate, Jim Pendergraph, attended a rally with infamous Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. From that rescindment:

What a run for Republican Jim Pendergraph. After winning the Observer’s endorsement in his bid for Congress, he has done nothing but embarrass us and himself.

By buddying up to one of America’s more hateful egomaniacs and then joining with fringe “birthers” to question President Obama’s citizenship, Pendergraph has contradicted much of what he told the Observer’s editorial board in his endorsement interview last month. As a result, we have lost faith in him, and urge voters to consider Edwin Peacock or Ric Killian in the 9th Congressional District race.

Looking forward, Flono will be deeply involved in coverage of the Democratic National Convention in early September in Charlotte, with Observer editorial board members planning daily commentary online and in print. The paper is teaming up with Politico during the convention.

What’s Flono’s advice for reporters coming to town for the big event?

“The only advice I’d have is for reporters to have in mind what they want to accomplish in their coverage, and have a plan to achieve that goal. Otherwise, you can be overwhelmed with the event,” she noted via email. “This kind of look at democracy in action is uniquely ours in America, and it is only happens every four years, so it is worthwhile—but only if we cover it in ways that make it worthwhile.”

Of course, the fun snark will flow from those who see the convention as a staged party for thousands of journalists and politicos. But for Flono, you can bet she’ll find a way to convene deeper conversation even there.

Andria Krewson is an independent journalist in Charlotte and a student in the University of North Carolina's master of arts in technology and digital communication. She worked at The Charlotte Observer for many years. Find her on Twitter at or