Together with the Elias Foundation and James and Jacqueline Mann, Carolina Public Press is honored to announce the formation of the Shaklan Investigative Reporting Fellowship, which supports both the endowment and a full-time staff reporter devoted to investigative reporting in North Carolina at Carolina Public Press.
The fellowship honors the work in and the commitment to journalism of Allen Shaklan, a long-time media law attorney and nonprofit and media executive who was the first president of the board of directors at Carolina Public Press, the only wholly independent nonprofit news organization in North Carolina with a specific mission to provide in-depth and investigative reporting in the public interest to all North Carolinians.
The Shaklan Fellowship will continue the legacy of Allen’s commitment to journalism in North Carolina. He passed away after a long illness on May 15, 2022, in Asheville, N.C., where he was cared for with devotion by his wife, Marlene, and sons, Steven and Daniel.
“Allen and Marlene are the godparents to Carolina Public Press,” said Angie Newsome, founder and executive director. “This organization wouldn’t be what it is without Allen’s commitment and leadership and the continuing support of his family. He jumped in very early on to help me write our nonprofit application to the IRS. He mentored me for years as I worked to build Carolina Public Press from the ground up. He advised us on everything from budgeting and media law issues to hiring and board development. He very rarely missed a meeting or event because he firmly believed in nonprofit journalism and what it can do to support democracy and community.”
The Elias Foundation has pledged three years of support to continue Allen Shaklan’s commitment to sustainable investigative reporting in North Carolina.
“Jimmy and Jackie Mann with the Elias Foundation were lifelong friends of Allen’s,” the Shaklan family said in a statement. “We are so grateful for this wonderful tribute to him. It goes to an organization he felt so close to and was so meaningful to him. We hope it helps sustain the organization and encourages young people to go into journalism.”
In addition to supporting a staff investigative reporter, the Elias Foundation has also pledged a significant three-year contribution to the Carolina Public Press In-Depth and Investigative Journalism Endowment, held at the N.C. Community Foundation.
The Elias Foundation explained that its gift was made in the hope that “Allen’s lifelong commitment to personal integrity and institutional truthfulness will be remembered through the exceptional journalism of Carolina Public Press.”
“We are incredibly honored that the Elias Foundation has chosen to make a gift in Allen’s memory to Carolina Public Press,” Newsome said. “I miss Allen every day, but I know that his influence and legacy in North Carolina journalism, and at Carolina Public Press specifically, will last a long, long time.”
To find out more about the Shaklan Fellowship for Investigative Journalism at Carolina Public Press, make a gift in Allen Shaklan’s honor or learn about the endowment, please contact Executive Director Angie Newsome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Allen Shaklan
Allen Shaklan served as Carolina Public Press’ first board president of Carolina Public Press after moving the Asheville area in 2010. We are grateful for the time and sharing of his vast journalism and business expertise with us until illness forced him to step away.
Allen Shaklan was born on July 10, 1945, in Newark, New Jersey. The son of a truck driver, he attended Newark Public Schools, Hillside High School and, ultimately, Rutgers University. He went on to study law at Rutgers Law School and was accepted to the bar in 1971, following up with a master’s degree from New York University in First Amendment law.
Broadcast career and more
After a brief stint at the Federal Trade Commission, he entered the law department of the CBS Television Network, handling First Amendment cases for the broadcasting powerhouse’s news division.
A passionate advocate for quality news and press freedom, he transitioned to station management, first as Vice President of CBS’ Stations Division, and then, in 1988, as VP and General Manager of CBS’ Miami affiliate, WCIX (later WFOR). During his 11-year tenure in Miami, Shaklan was credited with transforming the station from a marginal presence in the market, to a competitive station with a strong community presence.
He then took the helm at WGCL in Atlanta, another struggling affiliate and spearheaded a revamp of their news broadcast. In a 2000 interview, he explained, “We’re trying to create an environment so viewers know exactly what they are going to get. News that matters, not fluff or sensationalism.” That same year, WGCL was named “Best Newscast” by the Georgia Associated Press Broadcasters Association.
Shaklan departed the station in 2002, turning his attention to public service. He joined Refugee Family Services, an Atlanta-based nonprofit focused on helping refugee women and children become more self-sufficient. During his six years there, RFS became one of the few organizations in the country to operate a pre-school program designed specifically for refugee children.
‘Retiring’ and finding Carolina Public Press
Shaklan “retired” to the Asheville area in 2010, but soon found himself lending his expertise to the Carolina Public Press, a nonprofit online news service that started by providing Western North Carolina with unbiased, in-depth, and investigative reporting. The organization went on to expand to cover all of North Carolina in 2018. Shaklan served as its first board of directors president and, later, a board of directors member, until illness forced him to step away.
To friends, family, and colleagues, he will be remembered as a kind, humble and humorous man. A lover of classical music, he spent hours plunking away at his baby grand or listening to his favorite recordings. A lifetime runner, he completed the New York Marathon in 1982 and loved playing tennis with his children and grandchildren.
In addition to his wife, sons and their partners, Allen is survived by four grandchildren—Milo, Mira, Sam and Jesse—whom he loved dearly.
Jacob Biba named the Shaklan Investigative Reporting Fellow
Carolina Public Press is pleased to announce that Jacob Biba has been named as the Shaklan Investigative Reporting fellow.
A North Carolina native, Jacob Biba has been a freelance reporter and photojournalist focused on the criminal justice system in North Carolina. His work has appeared in publications including The Intercept, The New Republic, The New York Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone and other statewide and national outlets.
In his new role at Carolina Public Press, where he is also the recipient of the Shaklan Fellowship for Investigative Reporting, Jacob is reaching out to as many sources as he can to prepare for upcoming investigative stories. When he’s not doing that, he’ll be reading trial transcripts and court documents and parenting his two children—it’s the latter that keeps him up at night.
In this Q&A with Director of Development Lisa Lopez, Jacob talks about his journey to journalism, what he enjoys about storytelling and what he’s looking forward to in this new role.
Why did you decide to become a journalist?
In some ways, I just kind of fell into it because I can read and write relatively quickly. (I went to a speed reading camp twice when I was in middle school. It was definitely a weird way to spend summer break when you’re a kid, but I’ve come to appreciate it.) Also, and probably most importantly, I just really enjoy the work involved. I like reading trial transcripts, court documents, talking to really knowledgeable people about important topics and sitting down with people to learn their stories.
What do you love most about storytelling?
I like figuring out how all the pieces of a story should fit together. It’s like a complicated puzzle in that way, which can be extremely frustrating but feels pretty good once it’s complete.
What draws you to investigative reporting?
I think people should know what’s going on in the world and in all its complexity. Investigative reporting is a pretty effective way to make sure people can’t use “Well, I didn’t know such and such was going on” as an excuse for inaction.
Do you have any surprising talents?
I wish! But I am pretty good at determining whether a bone is broken.
What keeps you up at night?
My kids—literally and figuratively.
What stories are you focused on as you begin your fellowship?
Right now, I’m working on a series related to excessive sentencing in the criminal justice system called Stacked Against. I’m also working on a follow-up to Kate Martin’s reporting on the use of custody and visitation agreements by Cherokee County’s Department of Social Services, among other reporting.
What story are you most proud of in your career so far?
A few years ago, I worked on a story with Lyle C. May, an incarcerated journalist on North Carolina’s death row. The story was focused on the health care crisis there, which is typically an overlooked topic. I think that by working together we were able to tell a much more nuanced story about what’s happening on death row. I also learned a lot from Lyle, and we became good friends in the process. He has a book coming out in the fall, which I recommend everyone preorder.
What do you love most about living in North Carolina?
This may seem weird, but whenever I travel somewhere and meet someone originally from North Carolina, I always know they’re from here before they even tell me. Maybe it’s some strange sixth sense I have because I was born and raised here, but I generally just chalk it up to the state itself—how it shapes people’s perspective, the language they use or how they approach the world. It’s hard to explain, but I think North Carolina is a special place that exacts some special bond among the people from here.
Biba lives in Asheville, N.C., with his wife and two sons. He may be reached at email@example.com. Carolina Public Press is honored to welcome Jacob to the team and as the Shaklan Investigative Reporting Fellow.
Allen’s legacy at Carolina Public Press
A recollection and tribute by Angie Newsome, taken from remarks made at Allen Shaklan’s Celebration of Life service on Oct. 15, 2022.
Allen Shaklan was an incredible person. I want to take a few moments to celebrate and honor some of what he meant to the communities where he lived, from Miami to Atlanta to Asheville. And to what he meant to me.
Allen’s legacy is one of compassion, excellence, ethics, empathy and vision. The Allen I knew believed in and worked for a world where families and communities had the resources and care they deserved, and where communities had the vital information we need to participate in democracy and hold government accountable.
While I had the opportunity to work closely with Allen for more than a decade, I still have learned so much about him recently. It was Allen’s way not to boast or brag. Marlene told me that after Hurricane Andrew destroyed South Miami, he helped to start the organization Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Neighbors Helping Neighbors brought housing, food, really everything families needed after the hurricane destroyed the farms and communities in South Florida.
Later, when he moved to Asheville, he also volunteered for Guardian Ad Litem, where he worked for and advocated for children involved in abuse and neglect court proceedings, in situations that were heart wrenching but that needed someone like Allen who cared not only about the legal issues but also in caring for the kids. He and Marlene traveled to visit the kids he advocated for, taking birthday presents and visiting family members. I know how hard this work was for him.
And then we come to Carolina Public Press, the nonprofit organization I founded to provide investigative and in-depth nonpartisan reporting in North Carolina. In 2011, his wife, Marlene, saw a story about the launch of Carolina Public Press and showed it to Allen. He called me up and we spent lunch together talking about the state of the news business, why nonprofit news is an answer to the disappearance of ethical investigative reporting. I admit I didn’t know who I was talking to at the time. I’d had many of these meetings and had been met with a wide range of disbelief and skepticism about what I was trying to do. I was prepared to be disappointed again.
But I was so, so wrong. Allen jumped in and became an incredible mentor to me and a champion for the vision Carolina Public Press had and still has to produce journalism as it should be. And he believed in me when he absolutely didn’t need to.
He went on to lead our advisory committee, write our nonprofit application to the IRS, and become the first president of our board of directors. He spent hours with me at my home, where we were based at the time and where I had two tiny daughters running around his feet. He helped us open our first office, hire our first full-time journalists and create our standard financial operations. He almost never missed a meeting. He kept other board members laughing at his gentle self-deprecating jokes. He kept me on my toes and quizzed me about our financials and books and so much more. Our organization absolutely wouldn’t be here without him. He and Marlene are CPP’s godparents, and I’m so grateful.
I try every day to live up to his belief in me, personally and professionally. And I’m so honored to share that we’re going to do everything we can to continue that. Thanks to the incredible generosity of some of Allen’s dearest friends, we’re establishing the Shaklan Fellowship for Investigative Reporting at Carolina Public Press.
The fellowship will directly support the work of an investigative reporting journalist in North Carolina who will focus on the overlooked and under-reported issues facing our communities and state. It will also support the organization’s endowment. We are thrilled that Jacob Biba has joined our staff as the fellow. His breakthrough reporting into overlooked communities is sure to have an impact across the state.
These are two things Allen was incredibly passionate about, things we talked about every chance we got — holding the powerful accountable to the people they serve and being good financial stewards of the trust communities have showed us by working to be sustainable for the long haul.
In closing, Allen was an incredible gift to me. I hope he knew how much he meant to me, to my family, to the organization he helped to found and to the state that became his home. I’m so grateful for the incredible friends and family he has made a part of my life. I miss Allen very, very much.
Thank you, Allen.
Angie Newsome, Founder and Executive Director, Carolina Public Press