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Eric here. Hope you're doing well. I'm taking a break next week, returning on March 10. Meanwhile, you can help me think about how NC Local can serve you better by answering any or all of these three questions. Couple of minutes, tops.

Appreciate you, as always...

I'm leading with the news

I want to start this week with the good work because, although this isn't unusual, there has been a whole lot of it lately: Reporting that holds power to account. Stories that tie the past to the present, and future. Unfinished business that needs our attention. Solutions to consider. Innovation. Challenges to our moral complacency. And many reminders of our shared humanity. It's all there. 

First up: For most of the past year, several blocks just north of Uptown Charlotte were occupied by a tent city of people who had nowhere else to live — until the camp was cleared late last week by order of the Mecklenburg County health director because of a rodent infestation. Many residents were moved temporarily to a shelter motel.

The story brought out a wealth of useful, enlightening and heart-tugging work from the Charlotte-area journalism community. There has been much more than I can possibly mention here, but among the pieces I saw that stood out:
I reached out to Chris Rudisill, director of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative — where affordable housing solutions are a focus of the work — to get his take on how members of the collaborative covered the story:
One important tie-in to our focus on solutions journalism happened during the press conference on February 18, the day before the evacuation order. Hunter Sáenz from WCNC-TV asked about longer-term solutions by the city and county to address homelessness and tent encampments. "We've had this problem for nearly a year. Is it going to take more money? Have we looked at other big cities that have similar homeless issues and problems?"

County Manager Dena Diorio responded, "We are looking at other housing options. We're looking at tiny homes and sort of variations on the tiny home theme, and looking at potentially some county property that we may be able to leverage for that purpose..."
Turns out, Rudisill himself had reported a solutions piece last year from Denver, about how the Beloved Community Village used mobile tiny homes on vacant land and got zoning policies changed to address homelessness. His story has resurfaced on social media as the tent city's fate has fed the Charlotte community's conversation on affordable housing.

Other good work...


👏 Barbara Durr in Asheville Watchdog offered a deeply reported case study on the racism behind urban renewal and its human cost, the importance of Black home ownership, and the barriers to it — plus the faint promise of reparations...

👏 Maddie Ellis, university desk editor of The Daily Tar Heel, really did her homework for this interview of UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz about his role in the Silent Sam settlement and other topics...

👏 Hannah Critchfield for NC Health News dug in after an informal survey by prison leaders found a troubling statistic — only about a third of the state’s correctional staff wanted a COVID vaccine. Those folks have vaccine priority for an obvious reason — prison employees probably brought the virus into the prisons in the first place, and now more of them can spread it outside. The secrecy among prison workers is also troubling — one recently retired employee told Critchfield that employees who talk to journalists usually "get a hand slap,” and several current employees in the story asked for anonymity. (I like the way Critchfield tells readers how she verified her sources' identities and job status. Transparency = trust.)...
    ➵ Best practices on anonymous sources and transparency, from Trusting News

👏 When GOP legislative leaders decided to dissolve the nonpartisan Program Evaluation Division, which evaluates public services for effectiveness and efficiency — much as the GAO does for Congress — Lucille Sherman of The News & Observer went beyond the official explanations and helped us understand what the decision could mean...

👏 Corey Friedman, editor of The Wilson Times and executive editor of Restoration NewsMedia, called out school leaders who censor student journalists in his weekly column: “High schoolers join student publications to learn reporting, editing and publishing fundamentals, and administrators deliver heavy-handed lessons in censorship and abuse of authority.”
    ➵ The Student Press Law Center has produced a white paper on restrictions on student journalists, ahead of Student Press Freedom Day on Friday.

👏 And finally, the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative has launched an interesting project — a way for anyone, worldwide, to share and "geo-tag" their personal COVID story. It’s done with Padlet, a free online notice board that allows users to pin notes that can contain links, documents, photos and video. It'll be interesting to see the results.
From the Workshop

Last call: Apply now for a two-part data journalism training opportunity from the NC Local News Workshop, associate professor Ryan Thornburg of the UNC Hussman School and the NC Press Association. The first part is a workshop this Friday, Feb. 26, at 2 pm during the NCPA winter convention. The second is hands-on training March 15 for five selected reporters who will produce a local story. [Learn more and register.]

Listen up


Pauli Murray, who grew up in Durham in the early 20th century, was a poet, a lawyer and legal scholar, a groundbreaking warrior for gender equality and racial justice, even an Episcopal priest — and a contentious, Black, queer woman in the Jim Crow (or “Jane Crow”) South. This month, North Carolina Public Radio premiered a podcast, “Pauli,” that tells her story. 

Leoneda Inge, WUNC’s race and Southern culture reporter, is the host and a producer of the series. Inge, who also is co-host of WUNC’s “Tested” podcast, worked with producers Charlie Shelton-Ormond and Stacia Brown, editor Lindsay Foster Thomas and engineer Jenni Lawson on the series. 

   ➵ Murray is also one of the Black trailblazers highlighted in 10 NC Black history lessons you likely weren’t taught in school (but should have been), by Brooke Cain and Martha Quillin for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.
Bulletin board

News about the news
 
📌 As I mentioned here on Feb. 10, two local bills moving through the legislature — House Bill 35 and House Bill 51 — would let 24 counties move their public notices out of newspapers and onto government websites. That would put a strain on newsroom budgets, and could make it more difficult for residents to find out about hearings and other government activity — particularly people with limited online access or skills. Colin Campbell, editor of NC Insider, reports on a case study for the proposal: Guilford County, which was allowed to make the switch four years ago. The picture is mixed — some public money saved, some complaints about access, and probably fewer eyeballs on the notices.
   ➵ Speaking of public notices: Column, a startup that processes those notices' placement in news products, now counts McClatchy among its partners
 
Job and internship postings
 
📌 Editor, digital news and engagement, WFAE.
📌 Content coach/investigations editor, Asheville Citizen Times.
📌 Editor, RALtoday.
📌 Education/general assignment reporter, The News Herald, Morganton.

📌 The Emma Bowen Foundation offers journalism-focused internships for talented college students of color nationwide, but locally in Asheville, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. [Find out more and apply.]
   ➵ A reminder about Poynter's internship database, where you can post an internship or look for one.
 
Learning opportunities
 
📌 In the third episode of the virtual Belonging in the News series — part of Vision 25, which is working to build antiracist practices in newsrooms — co-ED Martin G. Reynolds of the Maynard Institute will talk with Pulitzer winner Wesley Lowery. It's March 10 at 3 pm ET. [Register.]

📌 Race in America: Where Is the Coverage of Anti-Asian Harassment and Violence? A 45-minute session from Poynter, this Thursday, Feb. 25, at noon ET. [Register.]

📌 A webinar from Covering Climate Now this Thusday, Feb. 25, at noon ET can help you develop an all-of-the-newsroom approach to covering the effects of climate change. [Register.]
 
Free help
 
📌 The Accountability Project, the Investigative Reporting Workshop’s searchable collection of public data sets, now has more than 1 billion records — and you can access them all from a single search. Here’s more about how it works, and how to get a free logon.

📌 The Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and Project Facet have assembled a rich collection of guides and workbooks to help newsrooms and like-minded organizations do collaborative journalism
   ICYMI: Ju-Don Marshall, chief content officer and executive VP at WFAE, did an excellent presentation on the value of collaboration and best practices at the NC Local News Summit in January.

📌 
The Lenfest News Philanthropy Network, working with RevLab at The Texas Tribune, helps journalists, fundraisers and executives enhance their revenue through training and networking. It just announced its initial schedule of programs for 2021. [Learn more, register and join the mailing list.]

📌 A PEN America session: Navigating the First Amendment and Misinformation, March 3, 6-7 pm ET. [Register.]

📌 Introduction to Grant Writing for News Organizations is a five-week course on Tuesdays in April and May from the Lenfest News Philanthropy Network. Enrollment is limited to 30. [Apply by March 8.]  

An honor — and a privilege


The Daily Tar Heel is celebrating another birthday (and it doesn’t look a day over 128) all this week on Zoom, ending Saturday at 4 pm with words from my good friend and mentor Melanie Sill, who is being honored with the 2021 Distinguished Alumna Award. Melanie, of course, is the interim executive director of the aforementioned NC Local News Workshop, home of this newsletter, and she's going to be unhappy that I made a fuss over this — but it's an award well deserved. [Register for all events here.]

During that ceremony we’ll also find out who won the DTH Birthday Fundraising Challenge among the anniversary classes of 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. My money’s on 1981 (literally).
    ➵ Of course, you can donate anytime to support The DTH or any of the other excellent campus newsrooms in North Carolina. 

For your consideration

➡️  The Pew Research Center has released its annual report on how Americans navigated the news last year. You may recognize some of the key findings: “In many cases, one person’s truth is another’s fiction."

➡️  Two optimistic takes on the viability of local news: Mark Glaser, in Trust, Media and Democracy, writes about how local news outlets have met critical needs in creative ways during the pandemic — and how donors have recognized those outlets’ value. And a preview of Report for America’s 2020 Local Newsroom Sustainability Report shows a huge leap — 61 percent — in the amount newsrooms raised in 2020 to help pay for the RFA reporters in their newsrooms.

➡️  True Newsroom Diversity Must Account for Disability Status, Too. Sara Luterman, Nieman Reports.




And finally, I'll leave you with this parental alert. From Max Chesnes, an environmental reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers in Florida, part of the USA Today network.
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you on March 10. Take care. 
Eric

 
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