I approach journalism with stubborn hope and optimism.

This work can be heart-wrenching and difficult, considering the strident rhetoric and sometimes violent assault that journalists and journalism organizations face, from the workplace to the halls of political power at the local, state and national levels.

Not to mention well-documented business pressures facing the legacy traditional press. Modern research has found that around 30 newspapers have closed in North Carolina alone.

News deserts and news poverty are growing. The impact on our communities and democracy can’t be overstated as community trust in the media wanes.

Angie Newsome, founder and executive director of Carolina Public Press

News has to be different. We have to be different.

In 2011, Carolina Public Press launched in western North Carolina to be different. By focusing on independent, in-depth and investigative news — and by fully embracing mission-driven nonprofit journalism — Carolina Public Press started to shine a light on the issues going overlooked and under-reported. Think: the environment, education, open government and public records, housing, the economy, crime and justice and more.

In the last seven years, our start-up organization won local, statewide and national recognition as we did the hard work of producing high-quality, impactful journalism; organizing dozens of listening sessions and issue-based dialogues; and building the systems and operations of a nonprofit news organization.

Our vision for statewide in-depth and investigative news

Now, we are embracing our biggest challenge yet. We announced in February we’re expanding statewide. Today, I wanted to share what that means:

By the end of 2020, we will have transformed Carolina Public Press from a regionally focused news organization to the go-to sustainable independent, in-depth, investigative news arm for North Carolina.

We will accomplish this by focusing on impact, reach and sustainability — or core goals — through producing impactful watchdog journalism; building active and engaged audiences statewide; and securing our longevity through multiple revenue streams that include donors, foundations, sponsors and more.

We will know we are successful when we:

  • Publish in-depth reporting at least once every weekday on issues we know — through data, research and input — are top concerns for North Carolinians, equally representing issues originating in western, central and eastern North Carolina — representing a 66 percent increase in the amount of news from Carolina Public Press,
  • Publish six statewide investigative journalism projects that reveal, expose or explore allegations of corruption, incompetence, malfeasance or abuse of power and score a 10 or above on our impact scorecard, which is now featured on BetterNews.org,
  • Double the number of CarolinaPublicPress.org users,
  • Increase the percentage of active users who visit CarolinaPublicPress.org at least once a week to 40 percent,
  • Double the number of subscribers to our free enewsletter,
  • Raise $400,000 in yearly operating capital from a mix of foundation, earned income and donor revenue, and
  • Establish an endowed growth fund and raise $50,000 toward a $1 million goal.

We have already made progress, with more coverage of additional areas of the state and more looks at important issues on a statewide level. We’ve already added freelance reporters and photographers to our team who live in Chapel Hill, Concord, Fayetteville, Rutherfordton, Tarboro and Wilmington. Our board of directors has grown to add leaders who live in Bakersville, Cary, Chapel Hill and Sylva.

We’re just getting started because there’s a lot more to do. But now is the time to invest in journalism that matters to North Carolina. At Carolina Public Press, we believe — strongly, stubbornly — that in-depth and investigative journalism is a key to our state’s future.

The impact is real. Without Carolina Public Press, you wouldn’t have known state officials planned to study potential fracking sites in the mountains, an effort later abandoned. About the vast and disturbing problems facing the statewide adult care home system. About the environmental, economic and cultural impacts of the national forests, now undergoing management changes that will last decades. Or that one North Carolina county billed a resident $3,000 to fulfill a single request for public records. Just to name a few of our reports and projects.

You wouldn’t have had in-depth dialogues, through our Newsmakers conversation series, on housing for those living with mental illness; human trafficking; the well-being of children in the mountains; the decrease in labor and delivery services at rural hospitals. Again, just to name a few.

I’m lucky that there are thousands of people standing with me — you, our readers; our award-winning staff, contributors and board of directors; and the hundreds of people and foundations who invest their time and money to make Carolina Public Press possible.

Perhaps we’re all stubbornly hopeful and optimistic — both about independent, in-depth and investigative journalism and about the future of our state. I’m glad I’m in good company. Thank you — both for reading and for your support. Carolina Public Press can’t do this without you.

What can you do?

  1. Subscribe–for free. It’s quick and easy and the best way for us to keep you in the loop about our reporting, events and organizational plans. Sign up here. If you’re already a subscriber, encourage your friends, networks and colleagues to subscribe, too.
  2. Donate. In support of the organization’s statewide expansion, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation has pledged $25,000 to match — dollar-for-dollar — the financial support of anyone who makes a first-time or increased gift to Carolina Public Press. Give today.
  3. Invest in sustainability. If you’d like to help launch our endowment, email Angie Newsome directly.

For more information, call 828-774-5290 or email Carolina Public Press at info@carolinapublicpress.org. Thank you.

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Angie Newsome was the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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