‘Closing the chapter’: A conversation with Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen of Raleigh Convergence

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 30 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, accolades for journalists across the state, industry updates, job listings and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Sarah Day Owen WiskirchenRaleigh Convergence was born of Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen’s curiosity about how people navigate their lives. It’s ending this week with a reluctant but necessary decision about navigating her own.

A Florida native, Owen Wiskirchen came to the Triangle in late 2018 with her husband and baby son from California, where she had been an editor and social media leader with the USA TODAY network. She also packed a vision born years earlier when she was editor of a magazine aimed at readers 25 to 34 in Des Moines, Iowa. She often pondered what people needed to manage their lives better — and what that would look like if it were built from the ground up, without any legacy-media baggage.

In April 2019, she launched Raleigh Convergence — a hyperlocal, newsletter-first media company providing news and information that was meant to be relevant to daily lives, connective, representative, participatory, healthy and actionable. She chose the newsletter platform, she told me, because it’s “a way to start and end a news experience with prioritization, versus the infinite scroll of social media or 24/7 news cycle.” It soon grew to three editions a week.

As editor and publisher, she saw the newsletter as the hub of her endeavor, with a website and other offerings — including a portal and ambassador program for area newcomers called The New Neighbor Project and a platform for community storytellers called Converging Stories — as spokes, all optimized to meet readers’ needs.

Read more‘Closing the chapter’: A conversation with Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen of Raleigh Convergence

From the Summit: Ideas, Inspiration & Insight

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 23 for more highlights from the NC News & Information Summit, news about Sunshine Award winners, kudos for journalists across the state and moreSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

An image from the 2022 NC News & Information SummitI’m still in awe of the fellowship, generosity and energy I witnessed last week when about 100 of our media and information colleagues from across the state—and beyond—came to Elon University for the first in-person NC News & Information Summit. They openly and graciously shared ideas and insights about topics like transparency, access to news, hiring practices, election coverage and more. And many met or reconnected with others for the first time in person since the pandemic began. This opportunity to gather—safely, with masks and proof of vaccination—led to discussions about ideas for new products, collaborations, resources and news innovation in North Carolina. The convening confirmed that our state is fortunate to have such a talented network of news and information professionals and others who are dedicated to ensuring that local news thrives and reaches North Carolinians in all communities.

Read moreFrom the Summit: Ideas, Inspiration & Insight

‘I hate seeing a good story going untold’

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 16 for more on this story, the latest on the NC News & Information Summit, updates about new hires across the state, kudos for journalists across North Carolina and moreSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Before you say, “This is kinda meta for NC Local, isn’t it?” … yes. It is.

Not long ago, as I was grousing a bit about the challenge of writing a narrative newsletter on the regular, my good friend Melanie Sill (founder of this one) had a beautiful suggestion: Talk to some other people doing the same thing. Write a newsletter about … writing a newsletter.

So I called three of my favorites: Jeremy Markovich, who writes the ridiculously entertaining, offbeat North Carolina Rabbit Hole; Melba Newsome, who writes the mission-driven, newsy Coastal Plains Environmental Advocate; and Kate Queram, who makes hard (and even depressing) news disarmingly engaging in News from the States Evening Wrap from Chapel Hill-based States Newsroom.

For me, writing NC Local, the biggest challenge often is deciding which main topic I’ll tackle each week. With a newsletter, that process sometimes feels … lonely. So I asked those folks to talk about how they do it.

Read more‘I hate seeing a good story going untold’

Next week: The Summit and more

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 9 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, including the latest updates on the NC News & Information Summit, to learn more about the 2022 class of N.C. Media & Journalism Hall of Fame inductees, the scoop successful collaboration, advancing DEI in newsrooms, building community connections and more from news pros as part of the Workshop’s In Conversation series, and moreSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

Our first in-person NC News & Information Summit is just about a week away, and we couldn’t be more excited to convene people from across the state for discussions about local news challenges and opportunities, Sunshine Day topics and more.

And there’s still time for you to join us! Though we are limiting capacity to ensure we have adequate space at Elon University’s School of Communications, we do still have tickets — and several are free, thanks to sponsorship from the NC Local News Lab Fund! Register now using the promo code NEWSLABFUND.

Take a look at our schedule. 

Here are some important details to note:

  • The Summit is Thursday, March 17.
  • Location is Elon University’s School of Communications.
  • We’ll start at 9 a.m. and conclude at 5 p.m., followed by a networking reception.
  • Masks and proof of vaccination are required.
  • Hotel rooms can be booked separately via the Inn at Elon.

Attend our virtual-only special sessions:

We also will feature several virtual events during the week of the Summit. These events will be free and open to all, with no Summit registration required:

There’s a lot of momentum and activity this spring, and we look forward to convening and connecting with you. Questions? Email me.

Shannan Bowen, executive director, NC Local News Workshop

Reimagining State-Level News in North Carolina

Workshop Note: Kyle Villemain is The Assembly’s editor-in-chief. The below post is a special announcement written by Kyle and shared with the Workshop. We are posting here because the announcement about The Assembly’s plans includes an important detail that has the potential to benefit news organizations across our state. We welcome announcements like this from other publications as well. If you have questions or future submissions for the NC Local News Workshop’s site, please contact executive director Shannan Bowen. Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 2.

The Assembly, a year-old outlet focused on deeply reported state-level journalism, announces a plan to scale: a community-raised philanthropic start-up fund.

By Kyle Villemain

When The Assembly launched a year ago, we were scrappy to the point of falling apart.

The Assembly logoWe had a few weeks of cash on hand, an untested idea about how to make more money, and were banking it all on a grand vision for longform reporting about power.

A year later, we’re in a very different place. Every week, we publish a deeply reported longform story. It’s driving subscriber growth. It’s turning heads and shifting institutions. It’s nuanced, complicated journalism for a nuanced, complicated state.

We’re still under-resourced, at least in comparison to a tech startup or a legacy media outlet. But we’re bullish about the path forward and are proud to take a big step towards what’s next.

Today, we’re announcing a new partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, a national nonprofit whose board includes an array of great journalism leaders with ties to North Carolina, including Orage Quarles, Sharif Durhams, Anders Gyllenhaal, and Jim Goodmon. JFP’s mission is to increase the depth, diversity, and sustainability of local journalism by building and stewarding connections between funders and local news organizations.

With JFP as our fiscal sponsor, we’re setting a goal to raise $3 million from individual donors and foundations over the next two years—money that will fund 22 new full-time reporter positions at The Assembly. That funding will sustain the positions for two years; afterwards, The Assembly will assume the costs of maintaining the jobs.

Read moreReimagining State-Level News in North Carolina