Note: This is the opinion of Angie Newsome, the editor of Carolina Public Press.
On March 3, 2011, at about 11 a.m., this site went live.
In early October, I stood among a crowd of about 90 people who had gathered in a converted warehouse space in the River Arts District to celebrate the launch of Carolina Public Press.
The event was simple: Come take a moment to celebrate the launch of Carolina Public Press, the region’s newest — and only — online nonprofit news source to focus on in-depth, investigative, independent journalism about the overlooked and under-reported people, places and issues facing Western North Carolina.
What a seven months it has been.
I expected Carolina Public Press, honestly, to slide quietly out onto the Web last March. There are tons of voices and lots of news out there. How would you find us?
But you did. Quickly.
Within hours, I had e-mails and phone calls to return from across our region and beyond — some as far away as Raleigh and San Francisco. People wanted to know what we were about. Others wanted to help build a site devoted to investigative reporting. Offers to help came rolling in.
Seven months later, this is still the case. Our reporting has been regularly featured on WCQS. We’ve shared our content with regional news partners that include The Charlotte Observer, The Macon County News and Mountain Xpress. We’ve recruited an amazing group of journalists and advisers who are volunteering their expertise to help in our First Amendment legal needs, helping strategize for our longevity and keeping an eye on our journalistic vision, not to mention producing content for the site. We’ve also earned a mention from ProPublica, a national Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism nonprofit.
So far, we’ve broken news, delved deep into issues from child care to old-growth forests, and were the only media organization in Western North Carolina to have a reporter in Raleigh during the historic debate this year on the state budget (which is really a debate about what direction and priorities our state is taking and making).
It’s been a humbling experience. It’s also been really exciting.
These seven months has confirmed, for me, that there is, in Western North Carolina, a passionate interest in and vital need for journalism that meets its highest and core mission: public service.
In October, we wanted to celebrate Carolina Public Press, certainly. But we also wanted to take a moment to thank all of our individual and business donors, foundation supporters, volunteers, advisory committee members, smart and talented reporters and photographers, and our readers for being so generous with their feedback, ideas, story pitches, tips and contributions.
We wouldn’t exist without the financial support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, and our individual donors. The Institute for Southern Studies, our fiscal sponsor, has also been essential to this effort.
You are key to our success, just as we are working to make Carolina Public Press your key to in-depth, investigative, independent news for and about Western North Carolina.
As Eleanor Ashton, an advisory committee member said at the party, quoting some of our mission statement, as she asked everyone to join Carolina Public Press’ founding group of financial supporters:
We believe in the inherent power of information and a free press to a working, educated and vibrant democracy and are dedicated to giving you information you need to make decisions every day. We believe Western North Carolina needs regional investigative and in-depth reporting, and we aim to produce and publish just that.
Today, I want to thank all of you who celebrated this effort with us in person, those who sent in notes of congratulation and support, those who were curious and those who are already fans. Thank you, again, for your support.
Here’s to the next seven months — and beyond!
Want to help?
Join the Founding Fifty — the first group of people to become financial supporters of Carolina Public Press. Your tax-deductible contribution means another story will be written, another photograph will be taken, another issue will be covered. Every dollar matters! Make your donation online here.
Our gratitude also goes to…
Thank you to all the WNC businesses who helped make our launch party a success. We appreciate your support!
- Dynamite Roasting Company, Black Mountain
- Firestorm Cafe and Books, Asheville
- Wedge Brewing Company, Asheville
- The Weinhaus, Asheville
- West End Bakery, Asheville
A special thank you to Seven-Star Inc. who donated the space for the event.