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From the Summit:
Ideas, Inspiration & Insight

I’m still in awe of the fellowship, generosity and energy I witnessed last week when about 100 of our media and information colleagues from across the state—and beyond—came to Elon University for the first in-person NC News & Information Summit. They openly and graciously shared ideas and insights about topics like transparency, access to news, hiring practices, election coverage and more. And many met or reconnected with others for the first time in person since the pandemic began. This opportunity to gather—safely, with masks and proof of vaccination—led to discussions about ideas for new products, collaborations, resources and news innovation in North Carolina. The convening confirmed that our state is fortunate to have such a talented network of news and information professionals and others who are dedicated to ensuring that local news thrives and reaches North Carolinians in all communities.

Hosting a statewide media summit was one of my top priorities when I began my role as executive director of the NC Local News Workshop. I remember how inspired I was when Melanie Sill hosted the 2021 virtual summit, and I have always valued the networking and interactive aspects of some of the journalism conferences I’ve attended in the past. Brooks Fuller, director of the NC Open Government Coalition (also based at Elon University), hosts a Sunshine Day event each year focused on access to government information and other transparency topics. Since many journalists also attend Sunshine Day, it made sense for us to combine our events into one NC News & Information Summit.

And we hope to do it again next year, and the next, and…you get the point. We hope to make this an annual event in addition to other events (virtual and in-person) hosted by the Workshop and the Open Government Coalition throughout the year.

We have many people to thank for helping Brooks and me plan, prepare and operate this event—Elon’s School of Communications staff and our volunteer program committee (Dante Miller, Robyn Tomlin, Ashley Tolley, Rick Mercier and Chris Rudisill) in particular. We are also thankful for the sponsorship from the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund; Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych PLLC; Brooks Pierce; NC Press Foundation; EducationNC; The Assembly; Southern Environmental Law Center; WRAL; and Elon’s School of Communications. We also hired Erika Owens of OpenNews to help us design a participatory and inclusive event. Our Summit operated a bit different than some other conferences. Most of our sessions were interactive and involved everyone in the room, whether it was a panel that opened up for a conversation around the room or a group brainstorm.

And, to our session facilitators—a big thanks as well. You can see photos of our event and read some of our facilitators’ recaps and comments below. If you attended the Summit and haven't taken our survey, please find it here. And for everyone, stay tuned for details later this year about next year's Summit and how you can get involved.

—Shannan Bowen, executive director, NC Local News Workshop

From the Summit: Session Highlights

We asked facilitators to provide some takeaways from their sessions. Here are just a few highlights, and we'll feature more recaps in future newsletters:

Access Denied: The First Amendment and Emerging Problems in Public Spaces
Students from the Duke First Amendment Clinic presented on current First Amendment issues related to the public's ability to access courtrooms, public meetings held in hybrid format, and social media pages operated by public officials. The clinic was able to hear from Summit attendees about their personal experience with being denied access and discuss potential strategies for responding to such denials, including circulating sample demand letters.
—Shannon O'Hara, Duke University School of Law

Brainstorming Product and Project-Based Collaborations
We went into the session hoping to lay some groundwork for collaborative work and, hopefully, come out with some rough pitches. We were thinking maybe a few collaborative stories between outlets -- but what we saw were really higher-order collaborative project ideas: tracking 'wandering cops,' enhancing rural coverage, a network for connecting with, and supporting, freelancers. The energy was great but, more importantly, these are projects that would really work.
—Benjamin Schachtman, WHQR

Tapping into Pro Bono Legal Help to Power Your Local Journalism
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press highlighted the range of pro bono resources they offer that can help local journalists power their reporting. Check out their free online legal guides covering topics like state open records and open meetings laws, the federal FOIA, court access, the right to record, and much more. RCFP's free Legal Hotline is also available seven days a week for journalists who have questions about or need help responding to legal issues.
—Amelia Kennedy, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Recruiting and Retaining Journalists of Color
Sergio Bustos, of Report for America, guided a discussion with reporters Dante Miller, Laura Brache and Eileen Rodriguez about efforts to recruit, hire and retain journalists of color. The panelists shared stories of what's working and what could be better. It is a session worth repeating, so stay tuned for an announcement about a virtual event on this important topic for NC.
Congrats to Sunshine Award winners!

The NC Open Government Coalition, which has a new site worth checking out, announced the winners of the annual Sunshine Award at Summit. Congratulations to the following: And congrats to the journalists at the Duke Chronicle for the Barrows Award!

News about the news

🗞️ Pam Sander, executive editor of the Wilmington StarNews and regional editor for Gannett Southeast, will leave those posts at the end of the month. She talks about her experiences in this farewell column.

🗞️ Farewell: Leonard Laye, a lover of basketball and sportswriter for nearly four decades at The Charlotte News and The Charlotte Observer, died last week at 78. Thank you, Scott Fowler, for this tribute.
Bulletin board

Job postings

📌 Life sciences reporter, The News & Observer.
📌 Sports editor, Henderson Daily Dispatch.
📌 Race, culture and community engagement editor, Charlotte Observer.
📌 Staff writer, Bladen Journal, Elizabethtown.
📌 Reporter, The Franklin Press.
📌 Reporter, Washington (NC) Newsmedia.


📌 The Region 2 conference of the Society of Professional Journalists will be held April 8-9 at Roanoke, Va. [Learn more and register.]

📌 Who Gets to Speak in News Coverage? Solidarity Reporting on Trans Issues is a virtual workshop offered by the Center for Media Engagement, Thursday, March 31, at 7 p.m. ET. [Learn more and register.]

📌 The Chuck Stone Program — sponsored by the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, Capitol Broadcasting Company and the Gannett Foundation, is looking for 12 high school students who will be seniors in the fall and are interested in a journalism career. The four-day workshop June 26-29, featuring virtual classroom study, real-world reporting, multiplatform storytelling and writing, newsroom practice, and professional mentors, is looking for a diverse cohort, including varying religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and gender. [Apply by April 4.]

📌 You’re invited to Substantial Magazine and The Lux Blog NC’s virtual mixer, All Things Substantial, to connect and hear about local media resources. It's tomorrow (Thursday) at 1 p.m. ET. [Sign up.]   

Free help

📌 How to Develop Stories from 2020 Census Data is a free, self-directed Poynter course to help you cover your changing communities. [Start here.]
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and we'll see you next week. Take care. 
Shannan and Eric

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