Tips and sources for NC newsrooms covering election uncertainty

Some national stories are local everywhere, and the current political power struggle over the 2020 presidential election transition is one of them, sparking questions and conversation among our viewers and readers.

Local news outlets can bring the story home and help audiences navigate misinformation and disinformation on social media. They can host debate and local voices through discussion forums (radio talk shows, television interviews, newspaper letters to the editor or op-eds).

They also can share insights from nationally recognized experts (including NC-based scholars) on political information or disinformation (see the list below)

Here are a few resources for North Carolina newsrooms:

  • Joy Mayer and the nonprofit Trusting News project have a fresh list of tips to help newsrooms show people why their work can be trusted at this chaotic, confusing time in the presidential election process. “Have you heard members of your community say that “the media” is helping steal this election?” the Twitter thread begins.
  • Daniel Kreiss, a UNC assistant professor (listed below) and member of the Election Coverage and Democracy Network of scholars, shared this thread from the network today on how journalists can cover the story now.
  • First Draft News offers a US2020 Dashboard with live insights on what it calls “information disorder” (for instance, on interest in alternative social media platforms such as Perler) and a by-request Twitter feed from its team.

Local sources for reporting on disinformation and misinformation include these from the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) at UNC-Chapel Hill:

  • Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media: Media, platforms, electoral politics. Email
  • Shannon McGregor, Assistant Professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media: Social media, public opinion, political campaigns, platform content policy,
  • Francesca Tripodi, Assistant Professor, School of Information and Library Science: Media ecosystems, search and recommendation tools,
  • Deen Freelon, Associate Professor, Hussman School of Journalism and Media: Coordinated disinformation campaigns, racially targeted disinformation,

From the Elon University School of Communications:

Email with additions to this list.

Meet our advisory board: 26 local perspectives on NC’s news needs

The hometown feeling came through almost right away during the first meeting of the NC Local News Workshop’s new First-Year Advisory Board — 26 people from journalism, communications, education, libraries, history, public affairs, and more, who care about local news as a civic asset, in part because it matters to the places they hold dear.

Hope Mills. Durham. Wilmington. Northeastern NC. Many of our board’s members grew up in North Carolina, and their passion and concern about the loss of local reporting and its impact came through in their comments, even through our Zoom screens.

Hendersonville, southeastern NC, the Triad. As they introduced themselves, board members spoke passionately about the importance of strong local news, and the need for new thinking to sustain it.

Some focused on gaps in information for people whose dominant language is Spanish; others focused on a new generation of young people who don’t connect to hews in the same ways as their parents.

Our board, listed below and in more detail, includes not just accomplished journalists and news leaders, but also others who play key roles in supporting community information, truth-telling, and civic connection.

We’re honored to welcome this group as individual and collective wisdom for our efforts to build systemic support for high-quality local news in North Carolina.

First-Year Advisory Board 

Erica Allison, CEO/OWner, Formation PR + Brand, Hendersonville

Robert G. Anthony Jr., Curator of the North Carolina Collection and director of DigitalNC, UNC-Chapel Hill

Leslie Boney, NCSU Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement and Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues

Vanessa Bravo, Chair and Associate professor of Strategic Communications, Elon University School of Communications

Paul Cuadros, Associate professor, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and Chair and Executive Director of the Latino Scholars initiative

Seth Ervin, Chief Innovation Officer, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Lariza Garzôn, Executive Director, Episcopal Farmworker Ministry

Lizzy Hazeltine, Fund Coordinator, NC Local News Lab Fund (ex officio)

Cierra Hinton, Co-Director of Strategy and Operations, Press On; Executive Director/ Publisher, Scalawag

Deborah Holt-Noel, Host, UNC-TV’s Black issues Forum and NC Weekend

Tamara Jeffries, Associate professor and Chair of Journalism & Mass Media, Bennett College

Ju-Don Marshall, Chief Content Officer and Executive Vice President, WFAE

Fiona Morgan, Journalist, researcher, and consultant, Branchhead Consulting; former journalism director, Free Press

Philip Napoli, Professor of public policy and Associate Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Nick Ochsner, Investigative Executive Producer, WBTV

Orage Quarles III, Board Chairman, McClatchy Journalism Institute, Freedom Forum board member, retired longtime newspaper publisher

Fran Scarlett, Chief Knowledge Officer, Institute for Nonprofit News

Michael Schoenfeld, VP for Public Affairs and Government Relations, Chief Communication Officer, Duke University

Sarah Sloan, Producer and independent journalist, Working Narratives and Shoresides

Monique Smalls, Communications Director, LabCorp

David Squires, Journalism lecturer, NC A&T State University, contributing writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated

Pat Stith, retired Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist, The News & Observer

Ryan Thornburg, Associate professor, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

Robyn Tomlin, President and Editor, The N&O/Herald-Sun, Southeast Regional Editor, McClatchy

Keven Zepezauer, President, CEO and Publisher, Restoration News Media and The Wilson Times

Karin Zipf, Professor of history, East Carolina University

From NC Local: The right to know, takeaways from the Workshop’s public records training session

By Eric Frederick

NC Local newsletter editor
Obviously, reporting on public meetings has changed this year, with most of them going virtual. Journalists, as always, have faced issues getting public records, and data are even more crucial now to public health and safety. The challenges of reporting on police actions have been amplified, and we’re dealing with legislative secrecy.

The NC Local News Workshop and the NC Open Government Coalition at Elon, working with the NC Press Association, held a session Aug. 26 where journalists and experts shared what they’ve learned about getting public information in these times.

Panelists were communications lawyers Amanda Martin and Mike Tadych, and reporters Tyler Dukes of WRAL; Emily Featherston of WECT; Nick Ochsner of WBTV; Victoria Bouloubasis, a freelance investigative reporter who has been working with Enlace Latino NC; Kirk Ross of Carolina Public Press; and Lucille Sherman of The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. [Watch the Zoom recording.]

Key takeaways:

Read moreFrom NC Local: The right to know, takeaways from the Workshop’s public records training session

Covering Voting for Voters: Register now to inform your local journalism

NC BOE site

North Carolina’s election season begins this Friday, Sept. 4, as the first absentee ballots in the nation start going out by mail. Get information and resources on how you’re covering the election process at a special convening on Zoom with elections officials and journalists, sponsored by the NC Local News Workshop, NC Open Government Coalition, and NC Press Association.

Register now for “Covering Voting for Voters,” scheduled for Sept. 9 from 9-10:30 a.m. Share your questions, and links to your own coverage so we can highlight it. Translation will be offered for participation by Spanish speakers.

Panelists include:

  • State Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell
    Karen Brinson Bell
    Derek Bowens
    Derek Bowens

    and Durham County Director Derek Bowens, who will outline what they think voters should know about the election process and what the public can expect.

  • Reporters including Jordan Wilkie from Carolina Public Press, Will Doran from The News & Observer, Paola Jaramillo of EnlaceLatinoNC, Wake Board of Elections member and Twitter election information provider Gerry Cohen, on what local journalists should be looking out for in their counties.
  • News organizations including Scalawag, The N&O, QCityMetro, and The Daily Tar Heel about building election coverage around community and voter needs.
  • John Hernandez from the American Press Institute and its Trusted Elections Network on resources for covering misinformation.

Send questions or comments to Melanie Sill, NC Local News Workshop executive director.

Meanwhile, catch up via Zoom recording on two recent events focused on public records and covering COVID-19 for Spanish speakers: Check our events page for those links.

Cobertura de noticias en español en Carolina del Norte se expande durante la pandemia y revela brechas

Medios de comunicación en inglés y español junto con líderes de la comunidad comparten lecciones y desafíos al producir periodismo para, por y sobre hispanohablantes en Carolina del Norte, donde la pandemia pegó temprano y duro.

Por Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez

Durante los últimos años, Paola Jaramillo y Walter Gómez han construido su sitio digital de noticias en español, Enlace Latino NC, y con la llegada de COVID-19, sabían que para servir a su publico, necesitaban hacer más que solo reportar las noticias.

Enlace Latino, con sede en el Triangle, está interactuando con los latinos durante la pandemia yendo más allá de reportar para averiguar lo que quiere saber su público. El grupo de WhatsApp de Enlace, en donde los fundadores escuchan y interactúan con su audiencia, ha crecido a 800 personas, de las 50 que tenía cuando recién empezó.

Jaramillo y Gómez fueron parte de los más de 30 representantes de los medios en inglés y español, junto con líderes de organizaciones que apoyan a la comunidad latina, que asistieron a la primera conferencia de NC Local News Workshop, ¿Qué estamos aprendiendo al cubrir COVID-19 para los hispanohablantes en Carolina del Norte?”

Los asistentes discutieron sobre lo que falta en la cobertura de COVID-19 para los latinos y cómo información sobre la pandemia debería ser diseminada a está población que tiene el porcentaje más alto de casos de COVID-19 en Carolina del Norte. Muchos reportaron esfuerzos adicionales para distribuir información, y obstáculos que complicaban esos esfuerzos — incluyendo encontrar dinero para fundar su periodismo.

Read moreCobertura de noticias en español en Carolina del Norte se expande durante la pandemia y revela brechas

NC Spanish-language news coverage expands amid COVID-19, and reveals gaps

Latino and English-language media and community leaders share lessons and challenges in producing journalism by, for, and about Spanish-speaking NC, where the pandemic hit early and hard

By Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez

Paola Jaramillo and Walter Gómez have spent several years building the digital Spanish-language news site Enlace Latino NC, and when COVID-19 hit, they knew they needed to do more than just report stories to serve their audience.

Enlace Latino, based in the Triangle, is engaging Latinos during the pandemic by going beyond reporting to learn what its audience wants to know about. Enlace’s WhatsApp group, where the founders listen and interact with their audience, has grown to 800 people from 50 when it first launched.

Jaramillo and Gómez were among more than 30 representatives from the English and Spanish-language media, along with leaders of organizations serving Latiino residents, who attended the NC Local News Workshop’s first knowledge-sharing gathering, held Aug. 5 via Zoom: “What are we learning from covering COVID-19 for NC’s Spanish speakers?”

The attendees discussed what is missing from COVID-19 coverage for and about Latino residents, and how information about the pandemic should be disseminated to this group, which has the highest portion of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. Many reported extra efforts to deliver information, and big challenges in doing so — including finding funding to pay for reporting.

Read moreNC Spanish-language news coverage expands amid COVID-19, and reveals gaps

Intern Corps delivered a raft of NC stories and a tryout of pooled local reporting


Anton L. Delgado covered a Charlotte protest in June for the NC Local News Intern Corps. Photograph by Grace Terry.

The NC Local News Intern Corps, an idea prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, came together in May and delivered its first stories in early June from a summer newsroom of four reporting interns and a supervising editor. Over the weekend, after the group’s final day, intern Anton L. Delgado delivered an update on Twitter about the team’s impact:


Those numbers kept growing this week, and answered one of the questions we had for the Intern Corps: Would newsrooms be able to use stories from a pool?

The answer was yes, with more than 50 editors on our email list by the program’s end: many stories reached a variety of audiences, from mainstream newspapers to Black and Latinx digital media outlets, and some continued getting picked up in the weeks after initial posting.

Now, we’re doing more assessment: surveying editors, talking with the interns, and measuring impact: What does this program show us in terms of the NC Local News Workshop’s goals for strengthening local news?

This wasn’t just an intern program, but also the first initiative of the Workshop, which launched this year as a response to major disruption in local news — the dramatic loss of local journalists in North Carolina and elsewhere, and the opportunities for new approaches to helping people know what’s happening in their own state and communities.

Read moreIntern Corps delivered a raft of NC stories and a tryout of pooled local reporting

New event Aug. 5: COVID-19 coverage in Spanish, share and learn

North Carolina news organizations have ramped up coverage, tried new platforms, teamed up with new partners, and used grant funding for new projects to report for and about Spanish-speaking people on the COVID-19 crisis, which has hit Latinx people harder than other groups.

On Aug 5 from 9-11 a.m., the NC Local News Workshop will convene a knowledge-sharing session to learn what people are trying, what’s working, and where we see more needs and opportunities for serving NC’s Spanish-speaking consumers.

The bilingual session invites participants who are delivering content in Spanish, others who seek to build their service and audiences, and community members who see gaps or opportunities for improving the quality and access to information.

The Zoom event is free, but requires registration. Click this link to register: “What are we learning from covering COVID-19 for Spanish-speaking NC?” 

Registrants so far include established and startup Spanish-language outlets, such as La Noticia, Enlace Latino NC, and others, and journalists from Blue Ridge Public Radio, WFDD, The News & Observer/Herald-Sun, Carolina Public Press, and other outlets, along with conversation about gaps and how to build on what’s working. The session will be moderated by Vanessa Bravo, associate professor and chair of Elon Communications’ strategic communications department, and will include translation services.

The gathering is part of a new event series from the NC Local News Workshop, which launched in June at Elon’s School of Communications to act as a support base and resource center for local news in North Carolina. The series, called “What are we learning?” aims to help people facing common challenges and opportunities come together to trade notes, share knowledge, make connections, and highlight needs and opportunities.

Next up, Aug. 26, noon, via Zoom: “What are we learning from 2020’s big stories about public records and access?” The Workshop will team up with the NC Open Government Coalition, also based at Elon, for a session capturing lessons from public records challenges involving COVID-19 data, and considering issues related to coverage of protests and policing.

Email me (Melanie Sill) if you have questions or suggestions, and watch this space for upcoming programs.

Highlights from the first half of our summer internship

Elon grad @antonldelgado provided a great summation of our efforts so far on Twitter today:

So far this summer @NCNewsWorks reporters have written 10 stories, which have been picked up 21 times by 12 different newsrooms.

Here are some highlights:

From Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez:

Hispanic-owned businesses more at risk of permanent shutdown during pandemic

From Khaaliq Van-Otoo:

George Floyd’s death helps whites, immigrants find their voice in the Black Lives Matter movement

From Riley Davis:

Three North Carolina entrepreneurs are bringing shade back to the beach

From Anton Delgado:

From MLK to BLM: Religion continues to play a critical role in the civil rights movement

Our goal is to assist and supplement state newsrooms by providing high quality news coverage at no cost to news outlets, while providing interns with professional experience and training. If you would like to receive our content, contact Susan Ladd at

We also need your feedback and suggestions to strengthen and improve the program. Let us know how we’re doing by contacting Susan Ladd or Melanie Sill,