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Eric here. NC Local is taking a holiday break next week and will return Dec. 29. I hope all of you have a happy holiday season. Meanwhile, to kick things off this week, here are Shannan Bowen and Brooks Fuller with some news...

Let's all meet at the summit

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 during Sunshine Week. 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. 

But this year we’re trying something new. The NC Local News Workshop is partnering with the NC Open Government Coalition, also based at Elon, to explore shared concerns around access to news and information, sustainability and community needs in journalism, and government transparency. With so many topics to discuss and work on, it made sense to combine our events this year to make progress toward a shared vision for North Carolina’s news and information ecosystem.

To that point, one thing we want to make clear is that this will be your Summit. Don’t expect a full day of panels and speakers lecturing to a passive audience. Come prepared to engage and collaborate. We’re working on a participatory, interactive and inclusive event that will feature hands-on workshops, facilitated conversations and presentations that seek to involve everyone in the room. We will also source ideas for sessions from the communities we serve. 

We’ve hired OpenNews to help us design the Summit to ensure we create and foster this kind of environment. OpenNews seeks to build a more equitable future for journalism by hosting interactive events and programs, such as SRCCON, and by convening people to share knowledge and tackle complex problems. In fact, their mission is very much aligned with the Workshop’s mission to connect, convene and build capacity for local news in North Carolina and the NCOGC’s mission to improve North Carolinians’ access to information.
While we remain optimistic that we can safely hold this event on Elon’s campus in the spring, we will also have a contingency plan for a virtual event. Elon University is centrally located in our state, and we’ll also have blocks of rooms available at the Inn at Elon for anyone who needs an overnight stay.

Sign up for Summit updates and announcements, including registration details and how you can submit ideas for sessions, on our interest form here. We’ll continue to include updates in this newsletter, but signing up via this form will help us learn more about you and about topics of interest that we should consider as we plan this event. 

As always, we are grateful for your partnership, engagement and collaboration with both the NC Local News Workshop and the NC Open Government Coalition. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!
Best wishes,
Shannan Bowen (executive director, NC Local News Workshop)
Brooks Fuller (executive director, NC Open Government Coalition)
Also from the Coalition
Eric here again. The NC Open Government Coalition also is offering a learning opportunity next month: 

The Coalition and 4Context will conduct a two-day workshop on opinion writing "for 10 people eager to ignite public dialogue about issues facing North Carolinians" on Jan. 21 and Jan. 24. Allison Silver, a veteran of Reuters, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Politico, will lead the training, which is free. [Get more details and apply.]

News about the news

🗞️ A bill that would overhaul the federal judiciary's PACER system and make U.S. court documents free to the public has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, which would not affect filings made in local and state courts, also would update the system's search function. It has bipartisan support.

For now, journalists and news organizations pay 10 cents per page, up to a maximum of $3 per document, for federal court records through PACER.

🗞️ In the latest move at the Lee-Alden dance, Lee Enterprise’s board of directors unanimously rejected the purchase proposal by Alden Global Capital, saying the offer of $24 per share "grossly undervalues" the company. Lee stock rose 7 percent on Tuesday and was valued this morning at about $36 per share in early trading.

Well done

One of the best stories I encountered this week is an annual report — the 2021 version from WFAE in Charlotte. If the purpose of an annual report is to tell an organization's story, this one works — but it goes beyond that, as a chronicle of the times we are living through. Check it out.

👏 Cutting through the noise: Folks at my former newsroom, The News & Observer, did some notably useful work this week. Kimberly Cataudella, with help from T. Keung Hui, Julian Shen-Berro and Danielle Battaglia, read four LGBTQ+ books whose presence in public school libraries has been challenged, and told us what is in them ... And Will Doran reported an excellent explainer of the "shadow docket" and the controversial role it has played in the legal challenges to the legislature's redistricting plans and the scheduling of next year's primaries.

👏 Ju-Don Marshall of WFAE and Hilda Gurdian of La Noticia, talking earlier this year about their collaboration on coverage of immigration issues, are featured in the year-end edition of the Better News podcast, which revisits success stories for local news organizations in 2021. The podcast is a partnership between It’s All Journalism and API to share innovative ideas that come out of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund.

👏 Lyndsey Gilpin and Southerly get a nice shout-out in this New York Times guest essay by Margaret Renkl about collective efforts to do nothing less than save the planet.

Dennis Draughon, cartoonist for Capitol Broadcasting Company, has won a 2021 EPPY Award in the category of Best Editorial/Political Cartoon (fewer than 1 million unique visitors). The Eppy Awards are given by Editor & Publisher to honor the best in digital media. Draughon also won the award in 2019.

Bulletin board

Job postings

📌 Senior multiplatform producer, WRAL, Raleigh.
📌 Several open positions at WFAE, Charlotte.
📌 Report for America reporter (schools beat), The Triangle Tribune.
📌 Report for America reporter (reparations beat), Asheville Watchdog.
📌 Report for America reporter (elections beat), Enlace Latino NC.
📌 Report for America reporter (education beat), WFDD, Winston-Salem.
📌 Report for America reporter (Fort Bragg and veterans beat), WTVD, Durham.
📌 Environmental health reporter, North Carolina Health News.
📌 Social media producer (temporary), WUNC, Chapel Hill.


📌 The Women in Journalism Workshop next April is the 2022 edition of an annual event at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, focusing on the challenges faced by women in journalism. Scholarships are available. [Learn more and register.]

📌 The Local Media Foundation’s Local News Fund works with news outlets to help raise funding from their communities for crucial reporting projects. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. [Find out more and apply.]

📌 You can submit interest in Indiegraf’s new round of Indie Capital funding, which will provide up to $50,000 to help independent community news organizations increase and diversify revenue. [Submit by Dec. 23.]

📌 Applications are being accepted for fellowships and scholarships at NICAR22, IRE’s annual data journalism conference, in Atlanta and virtually March 3-6. [Apply by Jan. 10.]
For your consideration...
‘By simply naming the things that are important for every independent news business to be thinking about, we’re closer to figuring out where organizations are on their path to sustainability. And that’s key to helping us fulfill our vision: a world where independent news businesses can sustain healthy, functional work cultures long-term while enabling a healthy, functioning democracy.’

Anika Anand's contribution to Nieman Lab's "Predictions for Journalism 2022" is an introduction to the latest iteration of LION Publishers' Sustainability Audit for independent news businesses, and the Venn diagram of key assets at its core. Anand, a UNC grad who grew up in Kinston, is LION's deputy director.
Also worth your time from the Nieman Lab collection: 

◼️ The no-win politics of defending democracy, Whitney Phillips.
◼️ Solidarity eclipses objectivity as journalism’s dominant ideal, Anita Varma.
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you on Dec. 29. Take care. 

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