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

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.