We’re missing a lot in covering NC’s AAPI communities: Hear how that can change

News has a short attention span, but a recent panel turned into a forward-looking, insight-rich session showing the way for North Carolina media to build better long-term coverage of Asian American and Pacific Islander people — and support AAPI journalists — to make and deepen connections in our increasingly diverse state.

That was the NC Local News Workshop’s aim in bringing together five journalists and a community leader on May 14: To look beyond the immediate. We wanted to learn from the journalism discussion that followed the murders of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta, amid new attention to the reality of anti-Asian violence and rhetoric as an ongoing reality.

I hope you will watch it for yourself, because no summary is as good as hearing these panelists’ insights in their own voices and words, led by WUNC host Anita Rao. We were joined by Chavi Khanna Koneru, cofounder and executive director of NC Asian Americans Together; WRAL-TV anchor Renee Chou; News & Observer reporters Julian Shen-Berro and Ashad Hajela; and Waliya Lari, a former WRAL executive producer who now is head of programs and partnership for the Asian American Journalists Association, our cosponsor.

In North Carolina, where the diverse population of AAPI people represents one of the state’s fastest-growing groups, our panelists pointed out opportunities for better journalism that also helps newsrooms build relationships and audiences. Yet many newsrooms lack key resources for being able to cover these communities — language skills, relationships and sources — and don’t realize the gaps till they’re in the midst of a breaking news story.

Some takeaways:

Words and language matter

AAJA responded to the events of spring by publishing updated guidance for covering AAPI people and issues, an an audio pronunciation guide to the Atlanta victims’ name, and additional resources for understanding and reporting accurately.

Waliya Lari AAJA
Waliya Lari

Yet mistakes often happen at that basic level, Lari noted: Mentioning a detail that is ordinary in one culture as noteworthy, for instance. She referred to a 2016 piece she wrote for RTDNA, “The Words of Journalists Have Power,” that offered descriptions of two men — one a suspected terrorist, and one her husband — with details such as having recently grown a beard, having emigrated from Afghanistan, and other elements often used in descriptions of terror suspects.

Read moreWe’re missing a lot in covering NC’s AAPI communities: Hear how that can change

NC Local for May 19: Making impossible funding possible

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from May 19, including how key players from North Carolina (“the state of collaboration”) will show up at the Collaborative Journalism Summit from the Center for Cooperative Media, updates on state and federal legislation affecting the NC press, and a boatload of kudos and wards for NC journalism. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday. 

By Eric Frederick, NC Local newsletter editor

Read Local/ Support Local pitchIf you’re on a newsroom’s email list, you may have seen an invitation to support strong local journalism with a donation — like the one shown here, from Executive Editor Robyn Tomlin of The News & Observer. 

This one mentions an organization called Journalism Funding Partners — and the link will take you to a donation page that describes The N&O’s spring 2021 community giving campaign, organized by JFP.

Such community campaigns are the latest initiative by JFP, a 501(c)(3) launched to support local journalism by bridging the gap between funders and newsrooms in three key ways:

  • Enabling major gifts from large funders that might otherwise be impossible.
  • Enabling broad campaigns of donations from individuals, including those who want to make only deductible gifts.
  • Guiding and training newsrooms in effective fundraising.

Its board members include chair Orage Quarles III, former publisher of The N&O; Sharif Durhams, managing editor of The N&O and The Herald-Sun; and Anders Gyllenhaal, a former N&O executive editor and former news VP at McClatchy. Sean Malone, first president and CEO of Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy in Raleigh, is its interim executive director.

Malone calls JFP an “elegant solution to a pretty meaningful need.”

Read moreNC Local for May 19: Making impossible funding possible

We support Nikole Hannah-Jones’ tenured appointment

The NC Local News Workshop stands in support of Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, who would bring valuable expertise back to our state as the new Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism at the UNC Hussman School of Media and Journalism.

As an organization that supports high-quality local news for people in North Carolina, we celebrated the recent announcement of Hannah-Jones’ new role as a gain for journalistic excellence across the state. We work in partnership and alliance with the Hussman School and Dean Susan King, and appreciated the dean’s note that with Hannah-Jones’ appointment, ”one of the most respected investigative journalists in America will be working with our students on projects that will move their careers forward and ignite critically important conversations.”

Our own work has shown us that many NC journalists seek guidance and methods for reporting accurately and honestly on race and racism, and the appointment of one of the nation’s top journalists at our state’s flagship public university offers a resource for rigorous reporting in the public interest.

Thus, we are deeply concerned by reports that UNC leaders’ decision to withhold tenure in the appointment (breaking a precedent from two prior Knight chairs) may have been based on political opposition to the substance of Hannah-Jones’ journalism, in particular her pathbreaking role in leading the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project

An environment in which a respected educational institution retaliates against an accomplished journalist for political or ideological reasons would chill press freedom as well as academic freedom, and we share concerns raised by UNC Hussman faculty members and other current Knight chairs in recent letters.

Hannah-Jones, who began her professional career at The News & Observer and reported deeply on the Durham Public Schools, developed her reputation through continued exemplary journalism at The Oregonian, ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine. 

Her work has been recognized with many of our nation’s top honors, including the Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship and election to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Her reporting has greatly expanded public knowledge and understanding of complex issues related to the historic and enduring roles of race and racism in our society. She has been honored by UNC-Chapel Hill as a distinguished alumna and as a member of the NC Media & Journalism Hall of Fame.

Hannah-Jones cares deeply about advancing journalistic excellence, and few reporters have contributed as generously to the betterment of the profession. She has championed investigative skill-building and professional development for journalists of color by co-founding the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Journalism. She also has worked tirelessly to contribute to training and education for journalists through speeches, workshops, training sessions, mentoring and advocacy, including support for colleagues and students in North Carolina. 

We support Nikole Hannah-Jones and endorse her tenured appointment on its merits.

The NC Local News Workshop, a nonprofit organization housed at the Elon University School of Communications, supports transformative approaches to journalism and civic information as a public service for all North Carolina residents. Learn more via our website or contact Melanie Sill, interim executive director.

 

How NC media can connect with BIPOC communities, from outlets that serve them

How can North Carolina local news outlets gain credibility and audience reach with Black, Latino, and Asian American people and communities? How can media organizations — especially those whose content, audience, and staffing have been mostly white  — expand their coverage and representation to include more of North Carolina?

We invited three North Carolina media leaders who’ve built their success on serving BIPOC communities to share their insights during a recent workshop for the NC Media Equity Project — six mainstream media outlets that are partnering with the NC Local News Workshop to share knowledge, experience, and resources toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We heard from:

  • Glenn Burkins
    Burkins

    Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com, which he launched in 2008 to add coverage and connection for the Charlotte area’s Black residents, currently through the website, newsletters, social media and events

  • Paola Jaramillo
    Paola Jaramillo

    Paola Jaramillo, cofounder and executive editor of Triangle-based Enlace Latino NC, which launched in 2018 and provides state and regional public affairs news, information and resources for Spanish-speaking and bilingual audiences

  • Samir Shukla
    Shukla

    Samir Shukla, who cofounded Charlotte-based Saathee magazine (a glossy print magazine and digital site) 23 years ago with his brother to provide cultural connection and news for South Asian communities, primarily in the Carolinas but also with reach in other parts of the Southeast

Here are a few takeaways from these media leaders:

1. ‘You have to be there for the long run’

QCityMetro’s Burkins, who built a career as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer and Charlotte Observer, among others, said the outlet’s website traffic jumped amid the COVID pandemic — and that it has continued to grow afterward, reflecting hard-won trust built on its coverage. Early on, Burkins and QCity pressed Mecklenburg County health officials on the pandemic’s heavier impact on Black residents, and it continued to cover that impact and other aspects of the crisis in ways that told readers the outlet was looking out for them, he said.

“Mainstream media — and that is where I kind of earned my bones — is largely reactionary: It goes wherever the hot story is and stays for awhile, and then it leaves,” Burkins said. “If you want to forge true relationships with communities you cover, you can’t be reactionary. You have to be there for the long run.”

Read moreHow NC media can connect with BIPOC communities, from outlets that serve them

NC Local for May 5: Back to the newsroom, and with a new theme — flexibility

CHarlotte Observer newsroom, pre-pandemic
The Charlotte Observer’s pre-pandemic newsroom, in the NASCAR building uptown

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from May 5, including details on a philanthropic buy of 20 Colorado newspapers, The Daily Tar Heel’s new general manager, resources and training for diversifying sourcing, a new partnership of digital outlets Southerly and Enlace Latino NC, and the Chatham News + Record’s new Spanish-language print edition of La Voz de Chatham. Sign up to get NC Local in your own inbox every Wednesday. 

By Eric Frederick, NC Local newsletter editor

For Reinstatement Day (which has turned out to be No-Reinstatement Day — sorry, Mr. Trump), I thought I’d check in on the status of another momentous restoration: North Carolina news staffs’ plans to return to physical newsrooms. When will reporters and editors gather again in front of a single desktop screen, and what will be different when they do?

I heard from five of those newsrooms. The theme: Flexibility.

◼️ The Charlotte Observer’s return will depend on community COVID conditions and state/local guidance, president and editor Sherry Chisenhall said. But there will be changes when it happens — including a yet-to-be-determined new location (The Observer gave up its newsroom in NASCAR Plaza downtown last year).

Read moreNC Local for May 5: Back to the newsroom, and with a new theme — flexibility

NC Local for April 28: Carolina Public Press at 10, ‘You just have to get bigger and better’

CPP's Angie Newsome
Carolina Public Press founder Angie Newsome, right, speaks at a forum on sexual assault prosecution following a CPP series, “Seeking Conviction,” which brought scrutiny and legislative action.

 

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from April 28, including WFAE’s “transformational grant” from the American Journalism Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones returns to North Carolina and UNC, new grants for NC orgs from the Facebook Accelerator Project and Report for America hires, much more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox weekly.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local newsletter editor

Carolina Public Press, which began as Executive Director Angie Newsome’s dream for an independent, investigative, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization, is now celebrating 10 years in operation.

Newsome, a longtime journalist, launched CPP in 2011, covering Western North Carolina as a fiscally sponsored project of The Institute for Southern Studies. It officially became a donor-supported 501(c)(3) in April 2014, and has grown to a statewide news organization with a staff of nine, supplemented by regular contributors. 

In the past two years, CPP has won 25 N.C. Press Association awards, including two first-place honors for general excellence among online-only publications; top awards in public service, investigative and enterprise reporting; and the Henry L. Weathers Freedom of Information Award. 

CPP just launched a speakers’ bureau, making staffers available for virtual and in-person speaking engagements on topics of expertise. And at noon next Wednesday, May 5, it will hold the first of a virtual conversation series called Ten for NC, with Penny Abernathy as guest, discussing news deserts, what she sees happening in the state, and the role of nonprofit news in filling gaps. It’s free, but you need to register to attend.

I got to chat with Newsome this week about the journey. Here are the highlights of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:

Read moreNC Local for April 28: Carolina Public Press at 10, ‘You just have to get bigger and better’

After Atlanta: How can NC newsrooms respond, not just react, to anti-AAPI violence and its aftermath?

in the days and weeks after an Atlanta-area gunman killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, news coverage prompted a national discussion about journalism’s gaps and blind spots in covering AAPI people and communities.

The Asian American Journalists Association‘s staff and members stepped up quickly to provide invaluable guidance and accountability for media, many suddenly trying to cover people and communities where they had little grounding, and also to mobilize support for AAPI journalists.

Now the NC Local News Workshop is teaming up with AAJA for a Zoom workshop May 14 from 2-3 pm to help North Carolina media and communities gain from lessons learned through this coverage and the ensuing conversation.

Moderator Anita Rao, WUNC journalist and host, will lead a panel featuring NC journalists, national and state AAJA leaders and the head of NC Asian Americans Together, and taking on key questions:

  • How can North Carolina news organizations make better connections and develop sources, understanding and trust among the diverse and growing ranks of AAPI people in our state?
  • How can we support AAPI journalists in our newsroom and benefit from their contributions in shaping coverage?
  • What resources can inform coverage in an ongoing way?

We want your voice in this conversation, which can help North Carolina media move from reaction to response and long-term improvement: Find details here, or register right away here.