It’s not quite time to shrug

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from May 11 for more from the Workshop, including industry news, job postings and applause for journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

COVID found me on Friday.  

I’m slowly getting better, but I’m still not well. My testimony: This pandemic is far from over, the variants are real and not a political ploy, and even if you’re healthy and have been pretty smart about this virus, it can still pack a punch. I had two vaccinations and a booster, and I’m glad I did — they’ve made this more like a bout of flu than the deadly terror it has been for too many. 

What amazes me, frankly, is how many of my acquaintances also have it. (Non-contact acquaintances, that is — I’m not “patient zero” here.) Cases are rising again in North Carolina and elsewhere — and probably more than the state dashboard shows because some people, using only home tests, may not be reporting their results. And some aren’t even testing. Fortunately, most of the cases seem mild to moderate, but people are definitely sick.

Read moreIt’s not quite time to shrug

Building Better Newsrooms

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from May 4 for more from the Workshop, including more on the 2022 Diversity Audit, industry news and applause for journalists statewideSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

The Workshop is partnering with UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media on a series of workshops, conversations and events about workplace resilience. We hope to convene people around ideas for improving newsroom jobs, policies and structures. I agree with CISLM director Erica Perel that sustainability isn’t just about business models. As Erica said so eloquently, “Making local journalism jobs themselves more sustainable—better pay, hours, working conditions and opportunities for growth across media and ownership types—is also important to the future of local news.”

We’re calling this series “Workplace Resilience: Building Better Newsrooms.” We kicked it off in March at our NC News & Information Summit with a session titled “The Care and Feeding of Early-Career Journalists.”

Read moreBuilding Better Newsrooms

‘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

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

Meet the Workshop’s New Staff

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Feb. 23 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, including the latest updates on the NC News & Information SummitSign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

The NC Local News Workshop’s team is growing!

Gabriela Rivas-De LeonPlease welcome our spring intern, Gabriela Rivas-De Leon, a journalism major at Elon University’s School of Communications. Gabriela hopes to use her journalism and sociology degree to combine her passions for community storytelling, social justice, and writing for the greater good. In her spare time, she is the co-creator of the podcast “Flying By the Seat of Our Pants” and is a tour guide for Elon Admissions. She also enjoys volunteering for sustainable organizations.

Gabriela will help the Workshop plan events, build a membership network, and use social media to connect people to the work and initiatives that are important to our news and information ecosystem. You may see her name from time to time, and she might even guest-write an upcoming edition of this newsletter.

Welcome, Gabriela!

Kicking off our WNC Community Listening Effort

Brenda MurphreeWe also welcomed our Western NC Research and Community Listening Fellow this month. Brenda Murphree brings years of experience in communications and community organizing to this role. Brenda, a Mississippi native who made Asheville her home nearly 30 years ago, founded an Asheville-based marketing agency in 2001 and has led award-winning creative work for businesses and organizations from Highlands to Hanoi.

Read moreMeet the Workshop’s New Staff

Spreadin’ a little esse quam videri

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Feb. 16 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, to register for the upcoming NC News & Information Summit, for more about the new North Carolina Tribune, the latest updates about journalists and news organizations from throughout the state, job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

When Asheville Watchdog launched, it was a distinctive player in the news startup landscape — a gathering of distinguished, “retired” journalists and media leaders, working for free.

Almost two years in, I think it now has a new distinction: It’s a success that’s nearly impossible to replicate — though not without producing some examples to follow. 

Lauren Harris for CJR took its story national last week, talking to three of the volunteers who make the Watchdog work — publisher Bob Gremillion, reporter/editor Peter Lewis and investigative reporter Sally Kestin — for her Journalism Crisis Project report. It seems Harris found the same thing my friend Jim Morrill saw when he wrote about Asheville Watchdog for The Assembly back in November, and what I learned more about in a chat with Gremillion in December — a noble and necessary enterprise, doing what it does quite well, but facing the challenges you’d expect if you do hard, local accountability journalism, and provide it free, while also trying to raise local money to keep it breathing. With an unpaid staff. So, not a model you’ll see copied everywhere. 

Read moreSpreadin’ a little esse quam videri

News on the Summit

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Feb. 9 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, to learn the results of the Rivalry Challenge fundraiser, for a list of helpful self-care resources, the latest updates about journalists and news organizations throughout North Carolina, job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Shannan Bowen, Executive Director

Registration will open by noon Friday for the NC News & Information Summit, which will be held during Sunshine Week, Thursday, March 17, at Elon University. We are in the process of planning an engaging agenda that will address core themes of transparency; access to news; diversity, equity and inclusion; sustainability; and community engagement.

Here’s a preview of just a few of our confirmed sessions:

  • Recruiting and Retaining Journalists of Color
  • Best Practices for Federal FOIA Requests
  • Money in Politics: How Campaign Finance Will Shape the 2022 Election
  • The Care and Feeding of Early-Career Journalists
  • Brainstorming Product and Project-Based Collaborations

At this time, we are planning for an in-person Summit on Thursday, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., followed by a reception. Those who will need overnight accommodations can book a discounted room at the on-campus Inn at Elon by using our dedicated reservation webpage and associated group code.

Read moreNews on the Summit

Nothing’s riding on this, except…

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Feb. 2 for more from the NC Local News Workshop, the latest updates about journalists and news organizations throughout North Carolina, job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

I’m a member in shameful standing of a big club of abject failures.

The inductees have all directed political coverage in an election year, starting with a dream: We’re going to smash the mold, flip off the strategists and flacks, ignore the horse race and center the voters and their needs in every single thing we report. The dream dies by degrees — in meaningless daily dissection of the latest crazy tweet, in breathless reporting of the latest poll numbers, in recitation of the results and “deep” next-day analysis of what it all means for one political party or the other.

The excuses are many. So are the consequences, because what we’re doing is ceding a very big responsibility.

If what we need is the realization that something truly momentous is at stake — like, say, the privilege of living in, and continuing to build, a society that’s more just and equitable, where everyone’s voice has power — well, it’s here.

Read moreNothing’s riding on this, except…