Conversation with a news leader: Paola Jaramillo of Enlace Latino NC

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from October 5 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewide. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Gabriela Rivas-De Leon, NC Local News Workshop Intern

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! Hispanics are one of the fastest-growing populations within the United States, and about 1 million North Carolina residents identify as Hispanic and/or Latinx. However, few news organizations around the state directly serve the Hispanic community with stories and resources.

Enlace Latino NC, founded in 2018, is the first Spanish digital-only media organization in North Carolina. Founded to close the information gap in the Latinx community, it boasts a website, a podcast, a radio show, and four newsletters that target the different rural and urban Spanish-speaking communities within the state.

During my discussion with Paola Jaramillo, the executive director and founder of Enlace Latino, she stressed the importance of collaboration with other news organizations around the state. Not only does collaboration boost awareness of Enlace, partnerships normalize accessibility for those who are non-white or multiracial.

Read moreConversation with a news leader: Paola Jaramillo of Enlace Latino NC

Tips for community listening

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from September 28 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewide. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

When Shannan Bowen became executive director of the North Carolina Local News Workshop last year, her top priority was a listening project — to learn how communities, especially underserved ones, get (or don’t get) the news and information they need. The findings would then help news providers change, collaborate and innovate to engage and serve those communities better.

The pilot for that initiative is the Western North Carolina Research and Community Listening Project. With a grant from the NC Local News Lab Fund, the Workshop in February hired Asheville marketing strategist and researcher Brenda Murphree as a listening fellow to conduct that yearlong initiative in 19 mountainous counties, using a survey, one-on-one interviews and focus groups to assess the needs, find the gaps, and look for ways to fill them.

Read moreTips for community listening

Sounding the alarm

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from September 21 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Like you, I was inspired by the success last Thursday of the first U.S. Democracy Day, a nationwide collaborative reporting project to focus attention on the crisis in American democracy, and to inform and empower citizens to address it. The project was coordinated by leaders at the Center for Cooperative Media, News Revenue Hub, Hearken, and the Institute for Nonprofit News.

As we always do, North Carolina showed up. I saw reporting and other contributions from Carolina Public Press, the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, Chatham News + Record, Jane Elizabeth’s Consult Creative LLC, Durham Skywriter, Enlace Latino NC, Journalism Funding Partners, La Noticia, the NC Local News Workshop (home of this newsletter), NC Policy Watch, Pride Magazine, QnotesCarolinas, States Newsroom, the UNC Hussman School, WCNC and WFAE. (If I missed you, yell at me.)

All of the work is showcased online. You can still add something you produced (published or unpublished), using the links provided there, and also submit work that can be republished by others. And you can thumb through the #DemocracyDay tag on Twitter.

Read moreSounding the alarm

Celebrating Democracy Day

Democracy Day 2022

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from September 14 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Gabriela Rivas-De Leon, NC Local News Workshop Intern

Democracy, defined literally, is government for the people, by the people — the ability to vote, organize, protest and debate, among many other actions. It’s a word that represents so much of what’s quintessential in American politics, and yet it’s often something we have taken for granted. 

When it is threatened, journalists are often the first to respond. But what happens when democracy is truly in crisis and constitutional rights are at risk? And what are journalists doing to help their communities understand this threat and its impacts? These are questions being asked by the organizers of US Democracy Day, a collaborative effort led by the Center for Cooperative Media and several other organizations.

“Democracy Day is a united effort to draw attention to the crisis facing American democracy, one that incentivizes local newsrooms to report on how democracy works in their communities,” said Stefanie Murray, director of the Center for Cooperative Media, in a Medium post. Other organizers include Jennifer Brandel of Hearken; Bridget Thoreson of the Institute for Nonprofit News; and Rachel Glickhouse of News Revenue Hub.

The collaborative picked this Thursday, September 15, as a day of broad media coverage of democracy’s crisis, because it coincides with the International Day of Democracy. The group has signed up hundreds of print, radio, TV and digital media to report on the state of U.S. democracy. The NC Local News Workshop signed on as a partner, as well as several other North Carolina news providers. Here are a couple of them — and why they see civic engagement and democracy as crucial:

Read moreCelebrating Democracy Day

The healthy function of a free society

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from September 7 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Welcome back from Labor Day weekend. I hope you all got to rest and reflect.

I did reflect for a minute, on the privilege you grant me — of your valuable time each week. My mission, writing this newsletter for the NC Local News Workshop, is an extension of the Workshop’s endeavors: I hope to help connect all of you who, by informing people and empowering communities, make a free society more healthy — through your work in news, information, research, education, law, philanthropy, public responsibility, civic engagement, art, science, curation, storytelling… the list goes on. I try to make those connections by sharing others’ ideas and earned wisdom; letting you know about opportunities for growth, change, collaboration and sustainability; giving you something to think about now and then; and occasionally telling a story myself.

One of the fun bits is sharing just a little of the great work you’re doing. I don’t do it every week, but you folks are really on a roll lately…

Read moreThe healthy function of a free society

Understand, and report, the process: A conversation with Pat Gannon of the State Board of Elections

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from August 31 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Pat Gannon
Pat Gannon

My former colleague Pat Gannon has worked both sides of the political journalism street — as a reporter and editor for 17 years, and for nearly six years now as public information director for the State Board of Elections.

That gives him a distinct perspective on the state of political reporting, elections administration, voter awareness and trust, the threats to democracy, and how news and information professionals can best serve the electorate.

I caught up with him the other day for a conversation about the serious challenges that face elections administrators and journalists these days — and about how journalists can empower voters, and increase trust in the workings of democracy.

Here’s our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity:

EF: So how has your job changed in the last couple of years?

PG: We had a very close governor’s race in 2016 that got messy afterwards. I didn’t think it could get worse or get tougher.

2020 got tougher.

Read moreUnderstand, and report, the process: A conversation with Pat Gannon of the State Board of Elections

Find the ‘heart and soul of the community’: Tips on listening and learning from a visit to the Qualla Boundary

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from August 24 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, NC Local News Workshop Executive Director

You can learn about communities and their histories, but you don’t truly understand a community until you learn about its people.

This was a wise message shared with me by Lily Wright, who was recently hired to help the Workshop with a community listening event on the Qualla Boundary, home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

Two people talk while sitting at a table
Lily Wright, left, interviews Jonah Lossiah, a reporter from the Cherokee One Feather.

Lily, who is Cherokee and works at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, helped the Workshop convene people from her community for discussions about local issues, perceptions of news coverage and access to news and information. Working alongside Brenda Murphree, the Workshop’s Western NC Research and Community Listening Fellow, Lily arranged and led a series of interviews and focus groups with EBCI members during a humid week in July. These discussions are part of our broader Western NC community listening project that focuses on the 18 westernmost counties of our state, prioritizing listening to communities of color, people in rural areas and people who are impacted by lack of high-speed broadband and other accessibility issues. We’re hoping to learn more about the news and information needs, habits and challenges in Western NC so that the Workshop can help local news organizations understand and address those unmet community needs.

I sat down with Lily after our Qualla Boundary event to talk about her experience interviewing her community members, insights that were shared, and what journalists should know about listening to communities of color. Topics that surfaced in the community listening discussions included representation of Indigenous people in news; where people turn first for news and information; and local and tribal issues that mattered to them.

Read moreFind the ‘heart and soul of the community’: Tips on listening and learning from a visit to the Qualla Boundary

Democracy, front and center

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from August 17 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

We spent some valuable time last Wednesday at the NC Elections Prep: Focus on Democracy workshop at Elon, presented by the NC Local News Workshop.

Jessica Huseman of Votebeat
Jessica Huseman of Votebeat

Jessica Huseman (below), editorial director of Votebeat, and Shannon McGregor, professor and senior researcher at UNC’s Center for Information, Technology and Public Life, offered great tips on centering democracy in reporters’ essential responsibilities, focus and tactics; their guidelines are a great template for anyone covering elections this year. Lucille Sherman of Axios Raleigh and Ryan Thornburg of the UNC Hussman School provided a guide to using and finding stories in campaign finance data, and Melanie Sill led a discussion on empowering and engaging audiences and building the local elections franchise.

Read moreDemocracy, front and center

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from August 10 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Whenever I encounter artistry — Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95; a complex barleywine, aged to bliss in a bourbon barrel; Messrs. Howard, Fine and Howard’s “Disorder in the Court” — I want not only to take it all in, but also to know: How’d they do that?

So I asked Barry Yeoman the other day about “Schism in the Body.”

Barry YeomanOne thing I always appreciate about Yeoman’s writing is that it lets me multitask: While I’m learning about his subjects, I’m also learning something about craft. In “Schism,” a dive into a bitter divide in the United Methodist Church and within a Statesville congregation, published last week by The Assembly, he lets us hear the radically different viewpoints that are doing the rending, but manages to impart the humanity, the dignity, even the wisdom of each person we meet along the way.

Yeoman proves the axiom that good nonfiction writing comes from strong reporting — from taking the time, doing the digging, getting to know the people, being faithful to the truth, building trust. When you get a traditionalist pastor to admit to lust, and in such a lyrical turn of phrase — ‘My lands! She is fearfully and wonderfully made’ — well, obviously you’ve built a relationship.

Read moreFearfully and wonderfully made

How best to use our capital

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from June 29 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and shout-outs to journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

It’s one of the distinctive skills that good journalists have — the ability (even the imperative) to always follow an objective process in their work, while acknowledging that their own experiences are formative.

That skill is an ever-so-rare application of discipline and ethics, one that even the media-literate among the general public don’t fully understand. But despite that superpower, journalists are human, with strong emotions and a sharp sense of right and wrong, honed by years of alert and empathetic observation.

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, overturning Roe, has tested that tension like nothing before. It surely has amplified the debate over how journalists should express their humanity without compromising their work, and their colleagues’ work.

Read moreHow best to use our capital