Spotlight: How student journalist Xanayra Marin-Lopez meets unfilled Appalachia community needs

Hi there! My name is Gaby Rivas-De Leon, and I am the communications intern at the NC Local News Workshop this semester. In keeping with the workshop’s dedication to helping North Carolina news organizations serve their communities, I am guest-writing the top of today’s newsletter to highlight a community near and dear to my heart: college journalists! Being a journalism major at Elon University has been one of my most fulfilling experiences. It’s a passion that has taken me near and far, from covering a local mural in downtown Burlington to shadowing a sustainable farm in the heart of Paris…

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from April 27 for more news from the NC Local News Workshop, notable industry updates from throughout the state, job listings and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Gaby Rivas-De Leon, Guest Writer

Xanayra Marin-LopezCollege journalists are the ultimate jugglers, balancing school work and the high-speed world of the industry. They aren’t just studying journalism anymore. Because of the growing media divide in small communities around the state, college journalists are tasked with covering both their college towns and the surrounding communities. They are often the only news source or voice there.

“We should not underestimate the role of college journalists in their communities. They’re attending local government meetings, filing public records requests, waking up in the middle of the night to cover breaking news, and often for little or no pay,” said Shannan Bowen, executive director of the Workshop. “Some of the communities these journalists cover have no other daily local news source. These communities both need and value the student news organizations and the reporters who work for them.”

Read moreSpotlight: How student journalist Xanayra Marin-Lopez meets unfilled Appalachia community needs

Trust and inclusion in immigrant narratives

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from April 20 for more news from the NC Local News Workshop, kudos for journalists across North Carolina, industry updates, job listings and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Liz RobbinsA highlight of the incredible month I spent on that Thursday back in March at the NC News & Information Summit was chatting with Liz Robbins, and learning a little about her work researching local news ecosystems and immigration reporting. Her latest work deeply involves our North Carolina community.

Robbins was a New York Times reporter for 19 years — starting in sports, where she covered the NBA and the Olympics, and later reporting on immigrant communities and immigration policy. After teaching immigration reporting at Columbia Journalism School, she became director of journalism partnerships at Define American, a nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning reporter Jose Antonio Vargas that works to humanize the narrative around immigration. 

During one Summit session, after our first chat, she quietly walked to the back of the room where I was standing and slipped me something. It’s a toolkit she produced with Define American on the use of anonymous sources in immigration reporting, and the care we need to take while building trust with people who literally put their lives on the line to talk to us. It felt a little like a sacred scroll in my hands — “Sorry, I can’t let you keep it,” she whispered — and as I read it, I grew even more impressed. This thing covers every contingency, every question I would ever have. It’s people-centered, mindful, thorough, eminently useful — something every reporter, including those who don’t “cover immigration” as a beat, should read.

Read moreTrust and inclusion in immigrant narratives

A conversation with Angie Newsome of Carolina Public Press

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 13 for more news from the NC Local News Workshop, the latest “story recipe,” 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

I got to chat the other day with Angie Newsome, founding executive director of Carolina Public Press, after CPP announced that she would be stepping down as ED by late summer or early fall. Here is our conversation, edited for length and clarity:

Angie Newsome
Angie Newsome

Now that it’s official that you’re leaving, how does it feel?

You know, it’s taken me a long time to get to this point, where I feel like I can, want to, need to, should — let the organization live beyond me, which has been a goal of mine for a long time. So it’s pretty incredible to reach that milestone, but it is bittersweet to be leaving something that I’ve poured my heart and soul into for more than a decade. It’s a roller coaster… But at the end of the day, I have such an incredible team of people that I get to work with now, and the board is really great, so I’m just trying to ride the wave…

What made you want to do CPP in the first place?

We saw a huge need. When we started we were focused in the 18 westernmost counties, for investigative and public service news. And at that point, there was this whole movement of people across the country who were journalists who had come out of a traditional background, who wanted to try going into the nonprofit world and trying a different model of providing news. That was really inspiring to me, and I wanted to see if it could work in the western part of the state. We just wanted to be one solution.

Read moreA conversation with Angie Newsome of Carolina Public Press

Peeling back a ‘simple narrative’

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from March 6 for more news from the NC Local News Workshop, kudos for journalists across North Carolina, industry updates, job listings and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

One of the best pieces of journalism in our state in the past week was Mandy Locke’s examination, with the North Carolina News Collaborative, of a provision in last year’s state budget that had some serious unintended consequences.

Mandy Locke
Mandy Locke

After the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, calls rose for more transparency about officers’ use of deadly force. But as Locke reports, a criminal justice reform bill passed last year did the opposite — actually increasing the secrecy around such incidents in North Carolina.

Locke, a friend and former News & Observer colleague, is an independent investigative reporter who also teaches journalism at Wake Forest University. To do this project, she applied for a grant from The Pulitzer Center and invited the collaborative, a coalition formed in 2019 including 23 news organizations, to be her publishing partner. It’s her second project with the group.

One thing that intrigued her as her reporting progressed, she said, was how vulnerable we can be to well-crafted “simple narratives” from public officials — until we peel back the layers.

Read morePeeling back a ‘simple narrative’