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365 Days. 36,500 Stories 

Ever noticed how many times the Charlotte Observer asks readers to do their work for them? You know what we mean: those little announcements that go something like, "Did you serve in the Korean War? We want your frostbite stories," or "Have you ever dreamed of kittens and ice cream? We want to hear about it."

Those announcements are called "fetchers," they're designed to find sources for stories, and the daily paper loves them. Last week the Observer outdid itself with what could be the most wide-ranging fetcher yet. Called "100 Degrees. 100 Stories," Tuesday's front page was plastered with a large fetcher asking readers, or "citizen-reporters," to send in their stories about dealing with last week's heat.

In the long run, the daily's fetchermania could be a boon for management. Who needs to pay for those pesky professional reporters when you can get readers to do the job? After all, it worked for the television industry, which improved its bottom line when the suits began replacing talented, trained actors with "regular" folks in reality shows.

Up next -- fetching a few good men to report from Iraq.

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