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As this newsletter arrives, the first NC Local News Summit is under way. I'll bring you some takeaways from that next week. — EF

'It's an important moment for us'

The insurrection a week ago at the Capitol was yet another call to duty for North Carolina's local news and information providers. Obviously, stories just don't get much more important than this one — and it has hundreds of local tendrils.

People are anxious. They need reliable information on what's happening. And there's a very good chance that there's more unrest to come — and closer to home.

I consulted a lot of smart folks over the past few days and pulled together a few tips, plus some good work and some things to think about:
Ways to build trust

'While we don’t know what the next few days and weeks will entail, we know this is far from over. And as journalists, it’s an important moment for us to convey credibility.'

Mollie Muchna, for Trusting News, offers several useful guidelines for keeping faith with readers while covering civil unrest. The key points:

◼️ Be thoughtful about your word choice (more sources on that below).
◼️ Explain that you’re on the side of facts.
◼️ Quickly correct misinformation (including your own errors).
◼️ Show consistency in your approach (and your organization's approach).
◼️ Discuss content you share but was produced by others, and why you trust it.
◼️ Explain how breaking news works.
◼️ Explain what you're up against.
[Read the full guide.]

Some challenges to consider

‘We need to understand not only who was there, but why…’

Megan Squire sees a specific role right now for local media. Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon, studies niche online communities on platforms such as DLive and how extremists use them to spread hate and make money. Reading her Twitter posts is like following a detective drama.
“It would be helpful for local news media to keep track of the arrests from our state, and also to track and expose individuals and groups that attended or aided in the insurrection,” she told me, “particularly if those people are in positions of power such as police officers, military members, elected officials, government workers and the like.

“We need to understand not only who was there, but why. What other ideologies do they hold? What types of issues led them to take this action? What types of local groups were involved? For example, were they involved in the 're-open' movement, Confederate monument support, Second Amendment support, and so on."

◼️ Examples of media reporting on local participants:
   The evolving story of Capt. Emily Rainey at Fort Bragg: Army investigating officer who led group to Washington rally. Jake Bleiberg, Sarah Blake Morgan and James LaPorta for The Associated Press.

   North Carolina extremists pledge to escalate beyond DC insurrection. Jordan Green, Triad City Beat. (BTW, check out Green's rather prescient piece for Raw Story before the riot.)

◼️ And here is Al Tompkins' take on this issue for Poynter:

 Should journalists play a role in identifying rioters?

◼️ Some other good work I've seen that illuminates local elements of this story:

   Police keep eye out in Raleigh amid threats, return of lawmakers. ‘They’ll be ready.’ Josh Shaffer and Danielle Battaglia, The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.

   'This isn't a normal class': NC teachers help students process US Capitol riots the day after. Brian Gordon, USA Today Network in North Carolina.
On language

Yes, words matter. 

◼️ Don't use militarized language. Avoid labels that lump people together. And put everything in context. Jennifer Brandel of Hearken introduces the Election SOS First Aid Kit: Messaging on Violence.

◼️ The words you apply to people and groups can overgeneralize, Joy Mayer of Trusting News reminds us. Take care — and be transparent about your choices.

◼️ “Language that pushes the boundaries of traditional neutrality can be used in a responsible news report.” Read Roy Peter Clark’s take for Poynter.

Help people understand the issues
Social media restrictions, the First Amendment and censorship —  obviously a deep well of misunderstanding.

Tori Ekstrand, an associate professor of media law in the UNC Hussman School, is an expert on the topic — and she addresses it, and four other key issues, while sharing her five key talking points for the first day of the spring semester in her Introduction to Media Law class. She’s an excellent resource.
   Ekstrand also points us to this overview of media law issues raised by the insurrection, from the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota.

A real community service
Some useful thoughts about one thing local journalists can do next is in this thread by DaLyah Jones, who reports on environmental justice and writes about Southern arts and culture for the Texas Observer; she’s also a former Freedomways Fellow at Press On. The gist: Communities need to know how to acquire and share information, and journalists can help them learn (and she’s eager to help, if you want to reach out). 

Be prepared, and be safe …

It’s more obvious than ever that journalists can be targets of the violence they're covering — and the danger seems to have grown. Below are some sources of help that we shared during the summer unrest, and some new ones:

◼️ Here are 23 guidelines for journalists to stay safe while covering unrest, from Al Tompkins at Poynter.

◼️ The Committee to Protect Journalists offers this guide to being ready and safe.

◼️ Here’s the Legal Defense and FOIA Hotline offered by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

◼️ The U.S. Journalism Emergency Fund, created by the International Women’s Media Foundation in partnership with Craig Newmark Philanthropies, offers financial help to journalists of any gender who have been targets of violence during political unrest. [Apply.] 

◼️ The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is keeping tabs on journalists who are being detained, assaulted or deprived of the tools of their trade. You can report incidents there.

◼️ The International Women's Media Foundation is hosting a webinar Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on strategies for staying safe while covering violent unrest. [Register.]
◼️ The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, is hosting a free 90-minute safety training webinar for journalists on Friday at noon ET.  [Register.]

And ... this thought

When the task of helping people stay informed and empowered seems too much...

My great friend Nation Hahn reminded me this week of something instructive — something that Ta-Nehisi Coates said to students at Davidson College in 2015, when one of them asked him about such daunting tasks: 
'Everything is not up to you; you can’t actually control everything. The weight of history is bearing down on you. ... I encourage you to find your trade, practice that trade at a real high level, and direct it to the causes that you believe in. ... People do see you, and you can speak truth, and people can turn around and say they saw something in that.'

Courtesy of Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Wilmington; photo below, Wilmington StarNews

To save a community institution

The Wilmington Journal, which has been serving the Black community in the southeastern corner of the state since 1927, is in trouble. Community members are trying to save it.

Dorian Cromartie of the area Black Leadership Caucus and Deborah Maxwell, president of the New Hanover County Chapter of the NAACP, have organized a GoFundMe effort to raise $95,000 by Feb. 1 to keep the newspaper’s building on 7th Street from going to auction, and to make essential renovations.

The Journal, which was called The Cape Fear Journal from 1927 to 1945, presents news on a website and produces a weekly print edition that sells for $1 in racks and stores. Because of COVID-19 and “many other hardships,” the GoFundMe page says, The Journal is facing “unprecedented challenges.”

“It is my understanding that we meet this deadline in February or it will break the Wilmington Journal,” Cromartie told Hunter Ingram of the StarNews in Wilmington.
“The Journal was always there,” Wilmington pastor and longtime civil rights activist Kojo Nantambu told Sydney Bouchelle of WWAY. “It has always been at the forefront of civil rights and any kind of rights in the city dealing with the racial situation, dealing with any type of inequity. Promoting the efforts of African Americans, promoting their growth and development.”

As of 10:45 a.m. today, the campaign had raised $16,335. [You can donate here.]
   ➵ The Journal is the heir to The Daily Record in the Black news tradition in New Hanover County. Alex Manly's Daily Record was destroyed during the 1898 white supremacist coup and massacre in Wilmington, which came to mind again after last week's assault on the Capitol. Ingram for the StarNews and Tyler Dukes for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun connect those events.

Well done

On the COVID beat...

👏 Carolina Pharmacy Provokes Response After Influencer Post Promotes Rapid Testing. Ryan Pitkin, Queen City Nerve.

👏 NC hospitals near capacity as coronavirus hammers the state. Liora Engel-Smith, NC Health News.

👏 Deprioritized: NC prison inmates not getting COVID vaccine so soon; questions remain about distribution. Jordan Wilkie, Carolina Public Press.

👏 COVID vaccines will come for NC prison staff first, then inmates. Hannah Critchfield, NC Health News.

👏 Parents seek extra help for students with learning challenges as pandemic continues. Jannette Pippin, The Daily News (Jacksonville).
And because you need a little inspiration...

👏 ‘Memory Keepers’ Aim to Tell NC’s Full History. Jennifer Allen, Coastal Review.

👏 Brothers build mini food pantry to help neighboring tent city. Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV.

👏 "She wanted to give the best care to people she was trying to help regardless of how they felt towards her." 

May you so live your life that everyone in town wants to write a reverent obituary when you depart. Thereasea Clark Elder, Charlotte’s first Black public health nurse, did.

Alexandra Watts and Dante Miller for WFAE, Ashley Mahoney for The Charlotte PostDevna Bose of The Charlotte Observer and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library are among those who are telling her story.

For your consideration

Like many of you, I’m still going through the Nieman Lab predictions for 2021. This one, by my friend and former N&O colleague Meredith Clark, is well worth your time.

'The approaches to news media coverage honed during Jim Crow continue to inform our approach to journalism today … How can journalism, as an institution developed through the perspectives of a few, adequately address the news and information needs of the many? It can’t.'

Clark’s model of reparative journalism is built around the most vulnerable among us — Black women. Read how: The year journalism starts paying reparations.
Bulletin board

News about the news
📌 Chanel Davis, a High Point native, will be the first Black editor-in-chief at YES! Weekly in the Triad ... Beth Hutson, who started at The Fayetteville Observer as a copy editor in 2008, has been named the newspaper’s news director ... Dale Morefield is the new publisher of The News-Topic in Lenoir.
Job posting
📌 Director, Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media (CISLM) at UNC.
📌 Reporter, The News-Topic, Lenoir

📌 Entries will be accepted until Feb. 15 for the Scripps Howard Awards, which honor work in 15 categories across multiple platforms with a focus on high-impact reporting. [Enter.]

📌 The Ancil Payne Award for Ethics in Journalism honors U.S.-based journalists and news organizations for constructive and ethical reporting in the face of personal, economic or political pressure. You may nominate yourself or others. [Learn more.]

📌 Working communications professionals who'd like to earn a master's degree: The UNC Hussman School offers a Master of Arts in Digital Communication designed to equip professionals with skills in leadership, strategic thinking and reshaping media. There's an online information session on Thursday at noon. [Learn more.] [Register.] 
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you next week. Take care. 

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