Much of journalism and reporting depends on the interview as the basic unit of discovery; a good story, a quote that stays with you, an opinion that helps you see an issue from a different point of view, providing important facts and information, or offering a counterargument, a lived experience that adds credibility, insight and, sometimes, wisdom.
While the journalists hear these voices, the reader often does not. For this reason, the Carolina Public Press newsroom, has started adding more audio into our stories, whether it means reading the story out loud and recording it, including the recorded interview of the teller, or both. People’s voices matter, as do the stories they share and the lives they live.
As part of our year-end roundup and reflection on the year of storytelling from our newsroom, we are sharing our top 10 interviews from 2022. These interviews were selected based on timeliness, uniqueness, relevance, human interest, impact and inclusiveness. For all the interviews the sources were contacted again and gave consent to publish either part or the entirety of the interview. The journalists have only made edits, where needed, for brevity and to protect any personal or privacy concerns shared by the interviewee.
In November, CPP covered the UNC Chapel Hill School of Law’s commemoration of its first Black female graduate, Sylvia Allen. Sylvia Allen died in 2012, but CPP spoke with her daughter Kathryn Allen about her mother’s accomplishments as both a lawyer and a person. To read the story.
Joe and Linda Brittain
When Joe and Linda Brittain took leadership of the Mills River Farm Market in 2009, it was a small operation. Under their leadership, the market doubled its vendors, provided educational programming and established itself as a popular community event that draws hundreds of visitors each Saturday from May to October.
In January, the market received $17,000 through Mills River’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funds to expand Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. In this June 29 interview, the Brittains share their experiences as Western North Carolina farmers, how to run a farmers market and why it’s important that all people have access to fresh food. To read the story.
Throughout the latter half of 2022, CPP covered the controversy surrounding the use of ShotSpotter in Fayetteville. ShotSpotter is a gunshot detection system that uses artificial intelligence to pinpoint the location of a gunshot.
Cities that contract with ShotSpotter use the location data to respond more quickly to gunfire. Kathy Greggs, a co-founder of Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Taskforce, spoke with CPP about the need to use technologies like ShotSpotter to address gun crime in Fayetteville. She also spoke about the larger need to address socioeconomic inequality as a way to reduce crime. To read the story.
Alicia Heacock and Meagan Lyon Leimena
Alicia Heacock bounces her baby with one steady leg on a Zoom call as she talks about government financial assistance for diapers.
There is one: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, which assists families with financial assistance for bills, clothing and other basic needs.
But with the average cost of diapers at $80 monthly, according to the National Diaper Bank Network, and the maximum TANF benefit for a family of three at $272, it’s likely there’s not a large diaper budget for families receiving the assistance to help with a range of needs.
That’s why Heacock and her co-director, Meagan Lyon Leimena, started Western North Carolina’s only diaper bank, Babies Need Bottoms, in 2018. Last year, the organization provided nearly 307,000 diapers for more than 15,000 children in seven WNC counties.
Buncombe County awarded Babies Need Bottoms $50,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to provide more than 86,000 diapers to child care centers over the next two years. Heacock, Lyon-Limena and Heacock’s 5-month-old daughter, Immy, sat down with Carolina Public Press to discuss the need for diapers and how the government can help. To read the story.
Leo Kelly Jr.
Leo Kelly Jr.’s ancestors were among the first residents of Vance County after the N.C. General Assembly created the small, new county out of parts of neighboring Franklin, Granville and Warren counties in 1881. Historians say Vance County’s formation is an obvious and early example of gerrymandering, or manipulating lines to benefit one political party, as the majority-Democratic legislature redrew county lines to solidify party control in Franklin, Granville and Warren counties.
In 1890, the first time the U.S. Census Bureau compiled data about Vance County, 63% of the county’s residents were Black. Statewide, Black North Carolinians made up only 31% of the population at the time
Kelly has heard the story of his home county’s formation for his entire life. In this interview, Kelly shares a family history passed down orally through generations, discusses how Vance County’s formation impacts its current culture and what his goals are as a Vance County Commissioner. To read the story.
To complement its coverage of ShotSpotter, CPP spoke with Daniel Lawrence, research scientist at the Center for Justice Research and Innovation at CNA who has studied ShotSpotter. He spoke about his research into the gunshot detection system as well as the larger implication of the technology, such as concerns surrounding privacy, effectiveness and the impact on Black and Brown neighborhoods. To read the story.
In December Carolina Public Press covered anti-encampment ordinances in Fayetteville and Cumberland County that allowed those local governments to remove camps from publicly owned land. Encampments are places outside where those unhoused live and sleep. As part of that coverage, CPP interviewed Roberto Quercia. Quercia studies low-income housing at UNC Chapel Hill. During the discussion, he talked about the need for more emergency shelters if an ordinance is in place that allows for governments to remove encampments. Quercia also talked about the larger issue of homelessness in human societies. To read the story.
Sally Weldon’s Buncombe County home does not have access to reliable internet. It’s an issue that she and many others in rural Western North Carolina struggle with due to lack of broadband fiber infrastructure. Fewer than 1-in-4 WNC residents has access to fiber, according to an N.C. Department of Information Technology map from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The N.C. General Assembly, as well as several other local governments, have dedicated portions of their American Rescue Plan Act funds to connecting rural communities to high-speed internet. In this March interview, Weldon talks about what it’s like not having steady internet access and how the government’s ARPA investment will help. To read the story.
In the days after the 2022 midterm elections, CPP spoke with a group of veterans in Fayetteville to hear from them about their thoughts surrounding the political issues of the day. Their names were Kenneth Joy, Thomas Person, LaFaith Artis, Charles Mack and Claude Bright. They spoke about their general frustration with partisan politics. To read the story.