Let’s brag about NC’s news ecosystem for a moment…

But note that there’s still a lot of work to do

Check out the full NC Local newsletter 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 Shannan Bowen, executive editor, NC Local News Workshop

Last week, while attending the Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin, I was struck by how many times someone mentioned North Carolina’s news and information ecosystem with admiration. When I introduced myself to new people or connected with old friends, I would hear them say something like:

  • I keep hearing so much about North Carolina!
  • You all have so much going on in NC.
  • I’m inspired by the work coming out of NC!
  • Wasn’t I just hearing about an interesting North Carolina news initiative recently?

And it’s true. We have a lot of great things in the works. I might be biased — OK, totally biased — but I’m going to take a moment to brag on all that’s going on in our state.

Read moreLet’s brag about NC’s news ecosystem for a moment…

The two-minute drill

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from October 26 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

Time to go into your hurry-up offense. There’s a lot to do in the next 13 days.

That’s a slightly ironic metaphor, because of course, elections absolutely are not games. They’re the most important exercise of our rights in a free society, and the participants need solid information to inform their decisions, not political handicapping, rankings and predictions.

I asked several smart people for their advice on what folks in the news media in North Carolina need to be doing in the days remaining before voting ends November 8:

Melanie Sill, longtime journalist, founder of this newsletter and founding executive director of the NC Local News Workshop:

Coverage matters, and many people are just tuning in. Make it easy for them to get up to speed and offer help for those who have heard mostly partisan messaging as well as those who might not know beyond a couple of races.

Read moreThe two-minute drill

NC Local News Lab Fund gets $1M gift

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from October 19 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

Here’s a big boost for our news and information ecosystem:

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has given $1.05 million to the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund. It’s the biggest gift ever to the Fund, which will send most of that money out in grants and use the rest to “reinforce our (operating) capacity,” Director Lizzy Hazeltine told me this week.

Since 2017, the Fund, backed by funders including the Kate B. Reynolds trust, has awarded more than $2.4 million in grants to what it calls “trusted messengers” — news and information providers and networks that build trust and connections in communities and “provide accurate, reliable news … despite having been historically excluded from traditional philanthropy due to racial and systemic inequities,” the gift announcement says.

Read moreNC Local News Lab Fund gets $1M gift

The law on your side

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from October 12 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.

Author’s note: Special thanks to Amanda Martin, general counsel to the North Carolina Press Association; Sarah Ludington, clinical professor of law and director of the First Amendment Clinic at Duke; and Christina Piaia, of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, for their help with this report.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Journalism in the public interest has become more challenging in the past few years for several reasons. The two main ones: Cash-strapped newsrooms often can’t afford the legal help they need to do meaningful investigative and accountability reporting, and a culture of government secrecy is growing.

Fortunately, there’s help on both fronts. With the expansion this fall of the Protecting Journalists Pro Bono Program (ProJourn), administered by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, there are four main ways for journalists and newsrooms in North Carolina to get pro bono legal assistance: 

Read moreThe law on your side

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