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…

A conversation with Antionette Kerr of Davidson Local

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Jan. 26 for more news 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 recently got to chat with Antionette Kerr, co-founder with Kassaundra Lockhart of Davidson Local, a free, ad-supported, hyperlocal digital news site in Davidson County. 

Members of Davidson Local
Some of the Davidson Local crew, celebrating the Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 Emerging Entrepreneur Small Business Award. Left to right: Business reporter Vikki Broughton Hodges, reporter Brooke Maners, co-founder Antionette Kerr, editor/reporter Ken Lack, and co-founder and Managing Editor Kassaundra Lockhart.

Davidson Local is a subsidiary of Bold & Bright Media, Kerr’s multimedia publishing company. The news site was launched in 2021 in partnership with Magic Mile Media, a Kinston-based marketing firm led by BJ Murphy that had launched another hyperlocal site in 2018, Neuse News, to cover Kinston and Lenoir County. Both sites provide local news and opinion, investigations and coverage of culture, education and health news.

Kerr worked for more than a decade in the nonprofit world before leaving to pursue writing and publishing as a career. She co-wrote a guide titled Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits and worked as The North Carolina/Tennessee producer for radio with The Public News Service. She’s a board member, director and consultant for multiple nonprofit agencies and has provided training through Women AdvaNCe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The National Council of Nonprofits, Nonprofit Marketing Guide and The Nonprofit Academy. 

Read moreA conversation with Antionette Kerr of Davidson Local

Bridging gaps with a podcast

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Jan. 19 for more on this story, news 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 an admirer of “Tested,” the news podcast produced since March 2020 by WUNC. In its timeliness, and in the way it gives stories from around the state a second life, it’s a worthy successor to “The State of Things,” the topical interview show that ended late last year after host Frank Stasio decided to hang up the mic.

Dave DeWitt
Dave DeWitt

But “Tested” is also different — and until I was chatting the other day with founding host Dave DeWitt, I didn’t truly appreciate how rare it is.

“We’re one of the few podcasts produced out of the news department on a public radio station,” said DeWitt, WUNC’s feature news editor, who came to the station 19 years ago and started on “The State of Things.”

Read moreBridging gaps with a podcast

An empowering new voice

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Jan. 12 for more on this story, news from the NC Local News Workshop, the latest updates about journalists and news organizations throughout the Tar Heel State, job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

Alicia Benjamin had a vision — to give marginalized people the power to enhance their lives and change their communities, by offering them the most effective tool: information.

Alicia Benjamin
Alicia Benjamin

Her idea, which earned a place in the second annual Google News Initiative Startups Boot Camp last fall, now lives and breathes — a news outlet called The Charlotte Voice, which has launched on social media. 

Benjamin is also a mom, a freelance writer and the editor of Pride Magazine, a bimonthly business and lifestyle publication serving the Black community in Charlotte. Her new solo project is more basic, and more transformational.

Read moreAn empowering new voice

‘Take it into the town square’

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Jan. 5 for more on this story, a tribute to Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, the latest updates about journalists and news organizations 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

A few days ago, I asked several leaders and influencers in North Carolina’s news and information community a question:

Where should we focus our energy in 2022?

Here are some of their insights:

Work together

CHRIS RUDISILL, director, Charlotte Journalism Collaborative; project manager, QnotesCarolinas:

Of course, I’d say that collaboration will continue to be key to North Carolina news in 2022, but more importantly, I think we’ll see unexpected collaborations really show what’s possible. How can local news and neighborhood associations tackle problems? How can artists help us tell stories? How can we move news from the social media framework that has disrupted trust and take it into the town square to create opportunities for community news sharing and creation? That’s what I’m excited to see more of in 2022.

Read more‘Take it into the town square’

Let’s meet at the summit

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Dec. 15 for more on this story and the latest updates about journalists and news organizations throughout the state, job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

NC News and Information Summit flyer

Greetings NC Local readers:

As you start using your 2022 calendars and planners—and get used to writing ’22 instead of ’21—there’s one date we’d like you to save: March 17, 2022.

Yes, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, but it will also be the date of our 2022 NC News & Information Summit at Elon University. The summit will convene news and information leaders, journalists, researchers, educators, community members and others to discuss important issues facing local news in North Carolina, just as the virtual NC Local News Summit did in January. 

Read moreLet’s meet at the summit

The ’Dog is having its day

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from Dec. 8 for more on this story and more from the NC Local News Workshop. Plus, learn why PolitiFact Founder Bill Adair says he has always been “intrigued by liars,” get the latest updates about journalists and news organizations throughout the state, the latest job opportunities and more. Sign up to get NC Local in your inbox every Wednesday.

By Eric Frederick, NC Local Newsletter Editor

It’s a season of some joy at Asheville Watchdog, the free, nonprofit news organization founded last year by some lifelong journalists and media executives who can’t quite figure out what it means when they hand you the golf clubs.

AVL Watchdog graphicIn case you missed it, Jim Morrill in The Assembly last month told the story of the Watchdog and its all-volunteer staff of acclaimed journalists who can’t stop digging into the people’s business. But I was curious about what was new since then, and there’s plenty, publisher Bob Gremillion told me.

◼️ A paid reporter: The staff will have its first full-time paid employee next June. Report for America announced this morning that it had approved the Watchdog’s bid to be a host newsroom, and will place an RFA corps member there for two years to report on topics related to Asheville’s and Buncombe County’s plans for reparations to Black communities. (Read on for other NC newsrooms joining Report for America.)

The Watchdog, Gremillion told me, has already raised the money to pay its part of that reporter’s salary — up to half of which is picked up by RFA in the first year.

“It’s feeling very real all of a sudden,” he said.

Read moreThe ’Dog is having its day