2023 NC Local News & Info Summit

NC News & Information Summit at Elon University on Thursday, March 16, 2023, A day of workshops examining news and transparency

The annual NC News & Information Summit will be held at Elon University on Thursday, March 16, during Sunshine Week. Registration is now open.

This year’s Summit features a keynote presentation on challenges and opportunities for BIPOC-led news organizations, presented by Meredith Clark, associate professor at Northeastern University, and Tracie Powell, CEO/founder of The Pivot Fund.

The daylong conference also will address topics relevant to local news and freedom of information, including:

  • Environmental Data Reporting: Find the stories in GIS data
  • Pro bono legal services for journalists (with ProJourn and the Reporters Committee)
  • Brainstorming News Product and Project-Based Collaborations
  • Presentation of the annual Sunshine Awards



Meredith D. Clark got her start in the Black press as a reporter for the Capitol Outlook in Tallahassee, Fla., before working at outlets including the Tallahassee Democrat and the Raleigh News & Observer. A two-time graduate of Florida A&M University, Clark earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and the Department of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, where she also serves as director of the Center for Communication, Media Innovation, and Social Change. Her research focuses on the intersections of race, media, and power. Her first book, “We Tried to Tell Y’all: Black Twitter and Digital Counternarratives” is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.


Tracie Powell is a leader in philanthropic efforts to increase racial equity and diversity in news media. She is the founder of The Pivot Fund, which seeks to support independent Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community news. Powell is a fall 2021 Shorenstein Center Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, where she is researching mechanisms for funding and capacity building for media outlets run by and for Black, Indigenous, other people of color, and traditionally marginalized (BIPOCTM) communities. Powell was a 2016 JSK (Knight) Fellow at Stanford University and has written regularly for the Columbia Journalism Review and Poynter Online. She is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and The University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Interested in sponsoring the conference? We welcome sponsorships for our interactive sessions and our travel and scholarship funds to ensure that cost doesn’t prevent anyone from attending. Contact Brooks Fuller, executive director of the NC Open Government Coalition, or Shannan Bowen, executive director of the Workshop, for more information.


Breakfast: 8:30-9 a.m.

Welcome: 9-10 a.m.

The State of NC: What’s Going on in Our News Ecosystem?
We’ll take a look at research examining the themes and trends shaping the North Carolina news and information ecosystem. Reporters and researchers will share perspectives on the opportunities and challenges facing journalism in our state.

Facilitators: Jessica Mahone and Erica Perel, UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media

First Session Block: 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Taking a Citizens Agenda Approach to Audience Engagement and Multi-newsroom Collaboration
What would it look like to restart a Citizens Agenda model in NC? This session will provide an overview of the Citizens Agenda approach, which launched in 1996 to bring together 15 NC newsrooms to create a new style of collaborative political coverage. We’ll discuss the challenges and opportunities for launching a collaborative effort like this in 2024.

Facilitators: Jordan Wilkie and Laura Lee, independent journalists

Public Records Pain Points: From Venting to Problem Solving
The North Carolina Public Records Act says that government records are the “property of the people.” But some provisions in the law create grey areas that cause recurring problems for journalists, citizens and public information officers alike. We’ll walk through common problem areas and share strategies to help you get information you’re entitled to.

Facilitators: Beth Soja, Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych

How to Access Pro Bono Legal Assistance for News Gathering Rights
Legal support is an important resource for journalists, particularly those investigating major issues and navigating public records. But legal services can be costly. Find out how ProJourn, operated by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is making pro bono legal support more accessible to journalists in NC. Facilitators will walk through the process for submitting requests to ProJourn and an overview of what the service covers, from litigation to pre-publication review.

Facilitators: Christina Piaia, ProJourn at Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Jeff Hermes, Media Law Resource Center, Bradley R. Kutrow, McGuireWoods LLP, Amelia Kennedy, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Why and How of Community Listening
Walk through the basics of community listening – what it is, why it’s worth doing, and how to get started. If you’ve been wanting to engage your community but not sure how, or want to make the case for community listening within your organization, this session is for you.

Facilitators: Fiona Morgan, Branchhead Consulting

Lunch Break: 11:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Second Session Block: 1-2 p.m.

Three Ways to Collaborate
The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative (CJC) has strengthened local news by working collaboratively to address major issues in Charlotte over the past three years. From joint reporting on affordable housing to working with artists to translate stories of COVID’s impact, the partnership has centered community in its work and explored creative ways to change the way news happens. CJC members will discuss tools and ideas to help you collaborate as reporters, creative partners and community conveners.

Facilitators: Chris Rudisill and the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative

Panelists: Alvaro Gurdián, La Noticia, Anna Douglas, The Charlotte Observer, Jim Yarbrough, Q-Notes 

Supercharging Accountability Reporting with MuckRock and DocumentCloud
Digging through public records can be intimidating, especially for small newsrooms. Join this session to test drive MuckRock’s public records tools and DocumentCloud’s new add-ons library. Learn how powerful web scrapers, table extraction tools, and machine learning models can supercharge and streamline your reporting.  

Facilitators: André Natta, MuckRock

Bridging the Digital Divide in NC Communities
In this interactive workshop, participants will gain a deeper understanding of how to work with communities experiencing digital inequity. We will begin with an overview of the “digital divide,” as well as current research on delivering news and information to digitally challenged communities, with an emphasis on rural communities. However, digital inequity is not limited to rural locations, and anyone with an interest in reaching audiences with limited internet access is welcome.

Facilitators: Lindsey Wilson and Lisa Lopez, Carolina Public Press

Journalism Funding AMA
Philanthropic funding is a major source of revenue for many news orgs, but finding funders, securing support, and stewarding those dollars can be winding. We’ll take questions and give candid answers in this AMA style session.

Facilitators: Melba Newsome, freelance writer, Lizzy Hazeltine, NC Local News Lab Fund

Third Session Block: 2:30-3:30 p.m.

How Latino and Hispanic Communities Want News and Information

The best way to meet a community’s needs is to learn from the community. The NC Local News Workshop spent the past year hearing from Latinx and Hispanic communities in Western NC about their news and information needs and preferences. Brenda Murphree will share insights from the research. Paola Jaramillo, Alvaro Gurdián and Julio Tordoya will join to discuss best practices in place across the state.

Facilitators: Brenda Murphree, NC Local News Workshop, Paola Jaramillo, Enlace Latino NC, Alvaro Gurdián, La Noticia, and Julio Tordoya, JMPROTV

Elevating Environmental Justice Issues With Data Mapping Tools 
Environmental justice sounds like a complex topic, but several data mapping tools can help reporters break down the issues and inform their communities. Join the Southern Environmental Law Center in this session to learn how to use these tools to improve government transparency and accountability at the local, state and federal level.

Facilitators: Irena Como and Libbie Weimer, Southern Environmental Law Center

How to Overcome Roadblocks to a More Equitable Workplace, from Hiring Staff to Leadership Transitions
Processes, planning and procedures can be so boring, right? Wrong! The right processes can help create an atmosphere where an inclusive and bias-free workplace culture can flourish. In this session, we’ll look at how establishing clear and transparent policies that create buy-in among your staff will set your news organization up for long-term success. Participants will walk about with ideas about how to approach hiring and leadership development, including transitions, in more collaborative and transparent ways.

Facilitators: Amy Kovac-Ashley, Lenfest Institute, Catherine Komp, Independent Journalist

They did what?: Using Tech to Keep up with State Legislative News
Journalists are the public’s primary source for information about the state legislature. But the pace and obscurity of the legislative process make it difficult for local journalists to keep up. In this session, hear from a panel of journalists and advocates about their challenges and learn how technology can increase access to the state legislature for journalists, advocates and the public. Plus, hear how text notifications and committee hearing transcripts can cut down time on culling through hundreds of bills and committee schedules and create more time for deep-dive reporting and legislative accountability.

Facilitators: Ricky Leung (Code the Dream), Cody Hill (UpState)

Panelists: Maria Gonzalez (El Pueblo, Inc), Brian Clarey (Triad City Beat), Melissa Boughton (Southern Coalition for Social Justice), Walter Gomez (Enlace Latino)

Awards and Keynote: 4-5:30 p.m.

The Summit will culminate with the NC Open Government Coalition’s annual Sunshine Awards and a keynote addressing opportunities and challenges facing news organizations and startups led by folks who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). Meredith Clark of Northeastern University and Tracie Powell of The Pivot Fund will highlight their research on race, journalism philanthropy and community information needs through the experiences of newsroom leaders who identify as BIPOC. Melanie Sill will moderate the conversation.

Reception: 5:30-7 p.m.

NC News & Info Summit Parking Map

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