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Swelter in place

With the possible exception of your investment portfolio (especially if you built it on the financial acumen of Matt Damon), everything this week is core-meltdown hot.

Let's see if we can find some relief in a few cool things I've come across ...
Dive into something deep
You'll remember the Security for Sale series, a deep report by the McClatchy newsrooms in May on how corporate landlords were buying up single-family rental properties in North Carolina, to the detriment of renters.

Now the reporters behind that series and the Pulitzer Center, which helped fund the work, are sharing a toolkit that can help others investigate corporate rental ownership in their communities. They’ve included tutorials and are offering to help other reporters as they use the tools. 

News & Observer investigative reporter Tyler Dukes, who led the effort, told me that for media in our state, “probably the best use would be to pull our North Carolina data and look for local stories. Which neighborhoods are seeing particularly active corporate buyers? How is that impacting renting and buying?

“We really focused on markets like Raleigh and Charlotte (in the series), but these companies are doing lots of buying in outlying suburbs, too.”

A great resource. Check it out, and contact Dukes if you need help.

Think about this fall
U.S. Democracy Day, scheduled for Sept. 15, is a collaborative nationwide project to flood the zone with fresh reporting on threats to our country’s democratic process. The coordinating team is recruiting news organizations to participate. Find out here how to join, and get more information.

There’s also a video in which Rachel Glickhouse of News Revenue Hub talks more about the project, which she initiated along with Jennifer Brandel at Hearken, Election SOS and Democracy SOS; Stefanie Murray at the Center for Cooperative Media; and Bridget Thoreson at INN.

    ➵ Protect Democracy’s new guide for reporters covering threats to democratic rule.
    ➵ American Democracy is Under Threat — and Newsrooms Are Mobilizing to Cover It. Celeste Katz Marston, Nieman Reports.

Help someone beat the heat
It may go without saying, but extreme heat can be deadly, especially for those most at risk — the elderly, the poor, people experiencing homelessness. Information, as always, can make the difference. I like what Jalon Hill did for QCity Metro this week, in this report on how vulnerable residents of Charlotte can get potentially lifesaving relief.
Think about ... winter?
And remember, while you're at it, that a toboggan is a hat, not a sled. In these parts, anyway. (Spare me the fact checks, please.)

That toe-boggan reminder is from the Triangle Expert Guide, a free series of seven newsletters produced by The N&O and The Herald-Sun with the idea of persuading newcomers to subscribe to those news sites but also entertaining longtime residents, service journalism editor Brooke Cain told me in an email exchange. 

“We had some previously produced stories (mostly food stories by Drew Jackson and a slate of "critter" stories covering everything from coyotes to copperheads) that worked well for the newsletters, but Korie Dean and Kimberly Cataudella built a bunch more evergreen stories from scratch: guides to NC's mountains and beaches, a guide to the hidden wonders of the local library systems, a guide to how to make friends when you move to a new area, a guide to finding the right place of worship in your community, a guide to preparing for (and surviving) ice storms and hurricanes, guides to parks, museums, playgrounds, farmers markets, LGBTQ-friendly bars and much more,” Cain said.

“We wanted to provide people with useful, practical information in the emails, but then provide links with more info.”

Cain wrote the newsletters, with McClatchy's Editorial Experimentation team advising on tone and topics and putting finishing touches on the design. The seven installments have been turned into three print cover packages. 
“We just launched the email newsletter last week, and so far it's doing well,” Cain said. “Everyone gets the same seven emails in the same order, no matter when they sign up.”
You can do that, and learn more about the project, here

Show us you're a fan of newspapers
Print? It's far from dead. And a good newspaper can sure whip things up. So, somewhere between the reading and the recycling, your ink-stained supporters can find some heat remission by turning their newspaper into a hand-held air conditioner. Here's how.

    ➵ On a related down note (sorry): Soaring newsprint prices worsen local journalism crisis. Brier Dudley, Seattle Times.
My forecast says it might stay below 90 on Sunday.
Until then: Let's be careful out there.

From the Workshop


Reminder: The NC Local News Workshop and the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at UNC have kicked off their 2022 Diversity Audit for NC Newsrooms. This audit, probably the first with a statewide focus and for all types of media, includes two surveys: one to understand diversity at the organization level, and another to understand identity and career experiences among people working in news organizations.

In addition to providing benchmarking for each news organization, the results will help CISLM and the Workshop design programming to help newsrooms make progress on diversity, equity and inclusion.

To participate, take our survey as an individual, or, if you lead a news organization, take our organization-level survey. You can also watch a recording of an FAQ session (enter passcode D$163KhL).

This audit will help us assess gaps and opportunities for capacity-building programs in specific areas of our state, so we can ensure that communities of all types have access to news. Questions? Email Shannan Bowen or Erica Perel.

News about the news

As you may know, Gannett is cutting the opinion pages in its newspapers to a few days a week, and devoting more of the remaining space to community dialogue. At Gannett’s 12 newsrooms in North Carolina, that appears to mean sharp cutbacks in national opinion content, among other changes.

The Fayetteville Observer is ending its partnership with The Washington Post News Service and also dropping letters to the editor; Opinion Editor Myron B. Pitts is encouraging readers to propose guest columns and also to join the dialogue on the Observer’s social media sites. 
In Wilmington, the StarNews is making the same changes in reader submissions, and it will keep publishing columns by guest writers John Hood and Tom Campbell, says Sherry Jones, NC East Group executive editor for the USA TODAY Network.
    ➵ BTW, this week's tip from Trusting News is a relevant repeat: Back to basics / Clearly label opinion content.
🗞️ The Charlotte Ledger team has added its third full-timer. Reporter Lindsey Banks, a recent UNC grad who interned at the Ledger last summer, has joined Executive Editor Tony Mecia and Managing Editor Cristina Bolling.
🗞️ Briefly: Salisbury Post distribution manager Lee Ann Garrett had a terrifying experience early Sunday — a gunshot apparently was fired at her vehicle by a truck closely following her after she filled a newspaper box with that day's edition. Garrett, who was subbing for a carrier who had car trouble, was not injured ...  Kenn Gaither, a professor of strategic communications, has been named the interim dean of the School of Communications at Elon, filling the chair left vacant when Rochelle Ford left to become president of Dillard University ... The American Journalism Project has released its 2022 Diversity Report, which includes not only diversity numbers for its own team and board, but composite diversity stats for the project's grantees (which include WFAE in Charlotte) ... There are some nice insights on climate reporting from the Winston-Salem Journal's John Deem in his conversation with Marc Fiol in the Journalism Funding Partners newsletter. ... Most U.S.-based journalists are happy in their jobs, but concerned about the business, a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 12,000 of them found.

Well done

👏  For a newsletter covering a small town — even for one of the best ones out there, Dan DeWitt's Brevard NewsBeat — this is impressive work. It's the story of a long-term decline in the quality of care at Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, drawing on published reports, government databases, litigation, anecdotes and interviews. The decline, DeWitt reports, mostly has come since the former community hospital was bought by Mission Health in 2012, and Mission then was bought by HCA Healthcare Inc. in 2019. The story covers 80 years of history — starting with a close, even loving relationship between hospital and community, which has deteriorated to the spectacle of a 93-year-old woman with COVID throwing bottles of Ensure against her room door in a futile bid to get a nurse’s attention. Settle in for this one: HCA, Mission and the "Tragedy" of Transylvania Regional Hospital.
    ➵ DeWitt consulted on the story with Asheville Watchdog, which has done groundbreaking reporting over the past two years on Mission and HCA. Shelby Harris at Carolina Public Press also reported with context this week on the city of Brevard's lawsuit against HCA.
    If anyone wonders whether local journalism is alive and well, ask a random HCA executive.

👏  Four UNC Hussman School students and recent grads — Maddie Ellis, Angelina Katsanis, Lucas Pruitt and Jayda Williams — won national championships in this year’s Hearst Journalism Awards, leading UNC to its seventh collegiate journalism national championship in eight years, and its 11th overall. You can see all of the individual winners and finalists here, ​​and the institutional winners here.

👏  Cheers to Michelle Wagner at Outer Banks Voice for tracking down the backstory of how a young adult novel was pulled from high school libraries in Dare County — and not following the school system’s prescribed process: How one book disappeared from Dare school libraries.

👏  Jimmy Ryals in The Assembly set the table (I swear that's unintentional, but I'm going to leave it) for the James Beard Awards with his report on the ever-more-impressive North Carolina food scene, including the artistry of several Black chefs. The featured chef, Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, won Best Chef: Southeast. (Terrific portrait on that story, of Moore, by Cornell Watson.) Two Asheville restaurants in Ryals' story also won top prizes — Meherwan Irani’s Chai Pani (Outstanding Restaurant Award) and Katie Button's Cúrate Bar de Tapas (Outstanding Hospitality Award).
    ➵ Cornbread and contemplation: My restaurant reckoning in Asheville, North Carolina. Cynthia Greenlee in The Charlotte Observer, for Detour, a new brand produced by an Observer partnership with the Miami Herald featuring stories of Black travel.
Bulletin board

Job postings

📌 Multimedia journalist, Hickory Daily Record.
📌 Managing director, The Chronicle, Duke University.
📌 News producer, WRAL, Raleigh.


📌 SRCCON, the participant-led conference from OpenNews for journalists who’d like “to transform their work, their organizations and their communities,” is online next week (June 22-24). It’s for all journalists but is particularly good for those in some kind of transition — seeking jobs, rethinking careers, looking for new ways to contribute. You can learn more here and also fill out a "call for participation" form; if you’re invited to attend, tickets are $125 plus fees (with some scholarships and stipends available). 

📌 The NABJ’s Black Press Grant Program is providing grants of up to $10,000 to reporters and producers at Black-owned news outlets, or their freelancers, to support reporting on the “COVID-19 pandemic and its intersections within the nation's K-12 education system.” Submissions are judged on a rolling basis. [Apply.]

Free help

📌 With reproductive rights and gun safety at issue, large rallies are happening again this summer. Here are two resources from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Police, Protesters and the Press and How to Protect Yourself When Covering a Protest. There's also What to Pack for a Protest, a really useful guide posted back in 2020 by Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych, PLLC.
For your consideration...
‘I can’t afford to stay in journalism ... And that not only hurts me, but the journalism I could be doing.’

I can't stop thinking about this farewell essay by MLK50 reporter Carrington J. Tatum, who fell in love with journalism as a force for change and did everything right — but whom our profession has lost because our society undervalues our endeavor, doesn't favor equity and puts a crushing burden on people who had to borrow their way to a degree.

My friend Adrienne Johnson Martin, former ME at Duke Magazine and former associate features editor at The N&O, who's now executive editor at MLK50, told me of Tatum: "I'm really going to miss him ... His understanding of systems, his brain, his ideas ... stellar."

We really need to do better.
Also for the reading list...

In the wake of the turmoil at The Washington Post: Every newsroom needs to update its social media policies. Kelly McBride, Poynter.

Here’s to Barry Sussman, and to Joshua Benton for pouring one out for him: All the newsroom’s men: How one-third of “The Watergate Three” got written out of journalism history.
That's all for now. Thanks for being here, and I'll see you next week. Take care. 

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