Executive Director’s note: This week, we’re taking you behind the scenes of a special Carolina Public Press project, NC Connection: Closing the News Gap. We’ve launched an expansive, data-driven research project to determine what the news gaps are in rural communities where high-speed internet is currently expensive, inaccessible or simply not available. Plus, we want to know how these communities want to get their news and information when hopping online simply isn’t an option.
In November 2021, the third Google News Initiative North America Innovation Challenge awarded Carolina Public Press a data-driven research grant to help address the need for research in local news in North Carolina. As a result, the nonprofit newsroom built the NC Connection: Closing the News Gap project to address this need.
Today, Carolina Public Press launched a web portal focused on the project that will provide transparent and free access to our methodology, learning and results, including ways to access all creative assets. It will be continuously updated throughout the life of the project.
The goal is to not only share what we learn. It’s also to provide the data and analysis that may propel other news companies and nonprofit organizations to further their understanding of how to get critical news and information quickly to underserved, hard-to-reach communities.
“In developing our journalism, our key strategies include listening and research, with an emphasis on transparency,” said Carolina Public Press Executive Director Angie Newsome. “For this reason, we baked transparency into the NC Connection project, pledging to make all our research activities, data analysis and results public on a freely accessible landing page.”
What it includes
The landing page includes sections on the methodology used to gather information from communities on their news needs, partnership information, benchmarking and milestone reporting, data visualizations, downloadable assets and conclusions about how the project’s results might inform the development of news products or tactics specific to delivering news and information to underserved, disconnected rural communities.
Personifying our ethos
Carolina Public Press’ reporting methodology has always prioritized community engagement, with many of those efforts continuing to focus on rural communities. The project, and its manifestation online, will serve as a prime example of delivering on the promise of the organization’s mission, principles and ideology.
“One of our most basic, and certainly one of our most important, hallmarks is community dialogue — dialogue that often takes the form of listening sessions and live and virtual events — to drive story development and to ensure our reporting matters, has impact and reaches across the state,” Newsome said. “I’m proud that this commitment to community dialogue is the backbone of what is, for us, a landmark project. And I’m proud that we will share what we learn with our stakeholders in North Carolina and beyond.”
Selected during the third Google News Initiative North America Innovation Challenge to receive a share of more than $3.2 million to help build ideas that address the need for research in local news, Carolina Public Press’ NC Connection: Closing the News Gap project seeks to discover the news needs and distribution preferences of those North Carolinians living beyond the “digital line.” For more information, contact Carolina Public Press Rural Engagement Manager Lindsey Wilson.