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 more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.
By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director
I’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.
Hosting a statewide media summit was one of my top priorities when I began my role as executive director of the NC Local News Workshop. I remember how inspired I was when Melanie Sill hosted the 2021 virtual summit, and I have always valued the networking and interactive aspects of some of the journalism conferences I’ve attended in the past. Brooks Fuller, director of the NC Open Government Coalition (also based at Elon University), hosts a Sunshine Day event each year focused on access to government information and other transparency topics. Since many journalists also attend Sunshine Day, it made sense for us to combine our events into one NC News & Information Summit.
And we hope to do it again next year, and the next, and…you get the point. We hope to make this an annual event in addition to other events (virtual and in-person) hosted by the Workshop and the Open Government Coalition throughout the year.
We have many people to thank for helping Brooks and me plan, prepare and operate this event—Elon’s School of Communications staff and our volunteer program committee (Dante Miller, Robyn Tomlin, Ashley Tolley, Rick Mercier and Chris Rudisill) in particular. We are also thankful for the sponsorship from the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund; Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych PLLC; Brooks Pierce; NC Press Foundation; EducationNC; The Assembly; Southern Environmental Law Center; WRAL; and Elon’s School of Communications. We also hired Erika Owens of OpenNews to help us design a participatory and inclusive event. Our Summit operated a bit different than some other conferences. Most of our sessions were interactive and involved everyone in the room, whether it was a panel that opened up for a conversation around the room or a group brainstorm.
And, to our session facilitators—a big thanks as well. You can see photos of our event and read some of our facilitators’ recaps and comments below. If you attended the Summit and haven’t taken our survey, please find it here. And for everyone, stay tuned for details later this year about next year’s Summit and how you can get involved.