How NC media can connect with BIPOC communities, from outlets that serve them

How can North Carolina local news outlets gain credibility and audience reach with Black, Latino, and Asian American people and communities? How can media organizations — especially those whose content, audience, and staffing have been mostly white  — expand their coverage and representation to include more of North Carolina?

We invited three North Carolina media leaders who’ve built their success on serving BIPOC communities to share their insights during a recent workshop for the NC Media Equity Project — six mainstream media outlets that are partnering with the NC Local News Workshop to share knowledge, experience, and resources toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We heard from:

  • Glenn Burkins
    Burkins

    Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of QCityMetro.com, which he launched in 2008 to add coverage and connection for the Charlotte area’s Black residents, currently through the website, newsletters, social media and events

  • Paola Jaramillo
    Paola Jaramillo

    Paola Jaramillo, cofounder and executive editor of Triangle-based Enlace Latino NC, which launched in 2018 and provides state and regional public affairs news, information and resources for Spanish-speaking and bilingual audiences

  • Samir Shukla
    Shukla

    Samir Shukla, who cofounded Charlotte-based Saathee magazine (a glossy print magazine and digital site) 23 years ago with his brother to provide cultural connection and news for South Asian communities, primarily in the Carolinas but also with reach in other parts of the Southeast

Here are a few takeaways from these media leaders:

1. ‘You have to be there for the long run’

QCityMetro’s Burkins, who built a career as a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer and Charlotte Observer, among others, said the outlet’s website traffic jumped amid the COVID pandemic — and that it has continued to grow afterward, reflecting hard-won trust built on its coverage. Early on, Burkins and QCity pressed Mecklenburg County health officials on the pandemic’s heavier impact on Black residents, and it continued to cover that impact and other aspects of the crisis in ways that told readers the outlet was looking out for them, he said.

“Mainstream media — and that is where I kind of earned my bones — is largely reactionary: It goes wherever the hot story is and stays for awhile, and then it leaves,” Burkins said. “If you want to forge true relationships with communities you cover, you can’t be reactionary. You have to be there for the long run.”

Read moreHow NC media can connect with BIPOC communities, from outlets that serve them

NC Local for May 5: Back to the newsroom, and with a new theme — flexibility

CHarlotte Observer newsroom, pre-pandemic
The Charlotte Observer’s pre-pandemic newsroom, in the NASCAR building uptown

Check out the full NC Local newsletter from May 5, including details on a philanthropic buy of 20 Colorado newspapers, The Daily Tar Heel’s new general manager, resources and training for diversifying sourcing, a new partnership of digital outlets Southerly and Enlace Latino NC, and the Chatham News + Record’s new Spanish-language print edition of La Voz de Chatham. Sign up to get NC Local in your own inbox every Wednesday. 

By Eric Frederick, NC Local newsletter editor

For Reinstatement Day (which has turned out to be No-Reinstatement Day — sorry, Mr. Trump), I thought I’d check in on the status of another momentous restoration: North Carolina news staffs’ plans to return to physical newsrooms. When will reporters and editors gather again in front of a single desktop screen, and what will be different when they do?

I heard from five of those newsrooms. The theme: Flexibility.

◼️ The Charlotte Observer’s return will depend on community COVID conditions and state/local guidance, president and editor Sherry Chisenhall said. But there will be changes when it happens — including a yet-to-be-determined new location (The Observer gave up its newsroom in NASCAR Plaza downtown last year).

Read moreNC Local for May 5: Back to the newsroom, and with a new theme — flexibility

Announcing the NC Media Equity Project: 6 partners join NC Local News Workshop

(Originally posted Jan. 25 on Elon University’s Today at Elon website)

Six leading North Carolina media organizations have joined the NC Local News Workshop at Elon University in a pilot project aiming to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in news and public affairs information for the state’s residents.

The NC Media Equity Project will include: ABC11/WTVD-TV in the Raleigh-Durham area; statewide education policy and news outlet EducationNC; North Carolina’s two largest newspapers (McClatchy’s Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer/Herald-Sun); statewide public television network PBS North Carolina (formerly UNC-TV); and WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR News Station.

The project focuses on joining the participating media organizations as a learning cohort and support network for their efforts to better represent, include and serve North Carolina residents who are Black, Native American, Latino, or LGBTQ, and other stakeholders who have lacked representation or agency in media.

It grew out of national and local conversations in the summer of 2020, as the Black Lives Matter movement and a series of other events brought new scrutiny to inequity and representation gaps within media organizations as well as in their content and coverage.

Read moreAnnouncing the NC Media Equity Project: 6 partners join NC Local News Workshop

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

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.