Early Insights

One-on-one interviews and small group listening sessions allow us to gather more in-depth information about local community issues and concerns. In informal interviews, individuals are invited to share their personal experiences and thoughts about local news and information. In small focus groups, we hold structured conversations about where and how participants get their news and information, prompting the discussion with questions about sources, reliability and trust, and we hear participants’ thoughts about local issues and how they’re being addressed in their community.

Findings to Date

Most of the nearly 250 survey respondents to date identify as living in a rural area and skew heavily toward an older, female and predominantly white demographic. We’ve received completed surveys from residents of 17 WNC counties so far, with the highest number of responses from Jackson, Buncombe and Haywood counties, followed by Swain, Macon and Henderson.

We’ve held three listening sessions and conducted 20 personal interviews with residents of Buncombe, Rutherford, Jackson and Swain counties and on the Qualla Boundary. Participants to date range in age from the mid-20s to mid-70s, and most are long-time residents of their community. Interviewees have come from a range of backgrounds, including a library director, a funeral director, students, journalists, retirees, low-wage workers, community activists and nonprofit leaders, ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-70s.

Some of the common themes that have emerged from the survey and from interviews and listening sessions include:

  • Issues with internet accessibility
  • Skepticism about trust in news media
  • Primacy of social media as a first source of breaking news locally as well as nationally
  • Significant use of online news sites for follow-up information on breaking news

For a personal look into our recent interviews and listening sessions on the Qualla Boundary, see Workshop Director Shannan Bowen’s recent blog post, “Find the ‘heart and soul of the community’: Tips on listening and learning from a visit to the Qualla Boundary.

Visit our News & Information Survey page to learn more about how you can help.