The TIL edition

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Oct. 27 for more on this story and to learn about a valuable redistricting resource, what’s new with journalists and news organizations throughout the state, explore the latest job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

I think we all try to be just a little bit smarter, just a little bit better, at the end of each day than we were when it began. And we do that by learning.

Much of that happens in human interaction, but in our case, a lot also comes from the shared work and wisdom of North Carolina’s vibrant news and information community, along with a nationwide network of supporters, advocates, thought leaders and change agents. Some of it is practical — the stuff that helps us live our lives better, make smarter decisions. Some of it is more motivational — the stuff that helps us think and act for the greater good.

It can be a profound exercise to actually take stock of it all. So, today I learned: 

“In many cases, doctors and even practice managers don’t know the prices their offices’ charge” for a medical procedure.

That’s because there are so many variables, and the process isn’t very transparent. And the process is why one man got a bill for nearly $10,000 after getting a $1,500 quote for a colonoscopy. Michelle Crouch, for The Charlotte Ledger, offers one of the best overviews I’ve seen of how medical pricing works, and some great tips for navigating it.

Read moreThe TIL edition

A hire to boost WNC opportunities

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Oct. 20 to see kudos for North Carolina journalists, check out recent news about the news industry, explore the latest job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

Greetings, NC Local readers!

Shannan Bowen
Shannan Bowen

I’m writing today from our state’s beautiful mountains, where I’m visiting with journalists and community members in Asheville, the Qualla Boundary, Boone and areas in between. I’m here to listen to media leaders and communities about local news challenges and opportunities in their region. My visit is also timed with the announcement of an important effort to better understand our Western North Carolina communities, which I’m sharing with you today.

As I mentioned in a recent newsletter, the NC Local News Workshop will focus on community listening and engagement across our state so that we can create programs that help our news and information organizations continue to serve their communities as well as reach new and underserved communities. We’re starting this statewide effort by focusing first on North Carolina’s mountain region, comprising two dozen counties and many diverse communities. With support from the NC Local News Lab Fund and Dogwood Health Trust, we are hiring our first Research and Community Listening Fellow, who will lead efforts in communities of all types in this region—geographically and demographically—to understand residents’ needs for news and information, valued products and services, gaps in services, challenges in accessing information, topics of interest and news consumption habits, among many other insights.

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A crisis in Blue Heaven

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Oct. 13 for more on this story and to see accolades for journalists throughout the state, explore recent news about the news industry, discover the latest job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Screenshot of Twitter post about UNC Chapel HillAs I’m sure you know, there have been four suicide attempts, three ending in death, at UNC-Chapel Hill in five weeks. Two of those attempts came last weekend.

As on campuses everywhere, the usual pressures for young adults — a new environment, the stress of sudden independence and a lack of structure, the end of relationships, academic missteps, financial worries, changes in sleep and diet, substance challenges — have been compounded by a pandemic, remote learning, reckonings around race and identity, and more. There’s a mental health crisis in Blue Heaven.  

UNC canceled Tuesday classes and called for a wellness day. 

And the students on the staff of The Daily Tar Heel, in addition to living all of those stresses every day, have had to report on their sometimes tragic effects. On Sunday, the DTH announced it would operate on a reduced schedule this week “to allow our staff time to rest and to prioritize their mental health.”

For that very reason, I didn’t want to intrude — but I did reach out to Editor-In-Chief Praveena Somasundaram and General Manager Courtney Mitchell to express support, and I asked about the core principles in the DTH coverage of the human tragedies. I’m beyond grateful for the grace they showed me. Here’s what Somasundaram told me, by email:

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‘Climate change is a local story’

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Oct. 6 for more on this story and also explore recent news about the news industry throughout the state, join us in recognizing North Carolina journalists, discover the latest job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

David Boraks“I’m realizing that climate change stories are not separate,” David Boraks told me this week. “Everything is a climate story. Everything we do that affects the environment is a climate story.”

North Carolina newsrooms are also realizing that covering climate now means dedicating real resources to the task.

Boraks, at WFAE in Charlotte, is one of three reporters at legacy news organizations in North Carolina who now have a full-time climate beat funded by philanthropy. (There were none a year ago; there will be four soon when the Winston-Salem Journal hires one.)

Boraks was already reporting on environmental issues when he assumed the full-time climate beat this summer, funded by the Salamander and 1Earth funds. Adam Wagner reports on climate change and the environment for the state’s McClatchy newsrooms, financed by 1Earth Fund in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners. Gareth McGrath, based in Wilmington, covers the same topics for the Star News and the USA TODAY network in the state, in a position financed by ​​1Earth Fund and The Prentice Foundation. The Journal position, which will support all of the Lee newsrooms in the state, will be funded through an agreement with JFP, as I reported here last week. In each case, the newsrooms have full editorial control over the reporting.

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