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Position Title: Research and Community Listening Fellow (Western North Carolina)

Location: Western NC

Deadline for applications: Nov. 19, 2021

The NC Local News Workshop at Elon University is hiring a Research and Community Listening Fellow to guide our community listening and news and information ecosystem research in Western North Carolina, focusing on the area defined as the state’s mountain region. This part-time, contract position will serve a one-year commitment in Western NC. 

The Fellow, who preferably lives in NC’s mountain region or can dedicate significant time there, will be expected to commit between 10-20 hours per week, depending on the project’s phase, throughout the course of the year. The Fellow will be paid $48,000 total for the project, and funding will be allocated for travel and research materials.

The NC Local News Workshop was established in June 2020 in response to local news challenges in our state. Our mission is to connect people across our state’s news and information ecosystem, convene journalists and others to solve challenges, and build capacity for news organizations in their efforts to become sustainable, equitably operating and community-serving. One of our major initiatives is helping our state’s news organizations forge closer relationships with the communities they serve, in particular with underrepresented and underserved groups. It is essential to our mission to understand how Western NC residents get the news and information they need, in addition to local issues that matter to them and challenges in their communities.

The Research Fellow will lead our efforts in North Carolina’s mountains to gain a deep understanding of the communities in this area and their needs for news and information. The Fellow’s research will be impactful to the future of Western NC’s news ecosystem, and the work is expected to lead to the development of new news organizations, collaborations and potential resources. The Fellow will also aid efforts to replicate this work by Fellows in other regions of the state.

Responsibilities:

  • Update our understanding of Western NC’s news and information ecosystem, organizations serving communities, others at work informing communities, gaps in service, and opportunities for progress
  • Engage with different types of communities, defined both geographically and demographically, to understand issues of importance, their news and information needs and media habits
  • Ensure representation and focus in research on underserved groups, such as the region’s rural, poor, Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities
  • Apply established qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to conduct community needs assessments, which could include surveys, focus groups, ethnographic methods, community listening sessions and other approaches
  • Identify the region’s news and information sources, including non-traditional sources, and collect details about the sources for mapping and documentation
  • Deliver reports outlining needs, gaps, an ecosystem overview and developments shaping news and information in Western NC
  • Synthesize data from research for use in databases and for other organizations
  • Produce a final detailed report and presentation on the news and information ecosystem in Western NC
  • Share findings at events, conferences and meetings with the NC News Workshop

Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated experience in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies
  • Experience practicing inclusion and equitable representation of communities in research
  • Ability and willingness to spend significant time in Western NC throughout 2022
  • Experience leading community listening sessions or focus groups
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • Relationships in Western NC

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Reside in Western NC
  • Knowledge of North Carolina’s mountain region and the communities there
  • Understanding of news and digital media trends, as well as uses and gratifications theory
  • Experience in community outreach and organizing, especially across lines of difference

Application Submission:

Send a resume and cover letter, which should detail examples of your experience as well as your interest in this position, to Shannan Bowen, executive director of the NC Local News Workshop, at sbowen5@elon.edu with the subject line “WNC Research Fellow Application”. The deadline for submitting applications is Nov. 19.