To strengthen local journalism and encourage greater connection between reporters and Charlotte residents, Solutions Journalism Network launched the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative in 2019, a partnership of six major media companies and other local institutions focusing on issues of major importance to the Charlotte region. The collaborative is supported by $150,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its $300 million commitment to rebuild the future of local journalism, essential to a functioning democracy.
The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative (CJC) is modeled on the Solutions Journalism Network method of investigating and reporting news with a primary focus on solutions to community problems. “At a time when local journalism jobs are disappearing and trust in media has hit an all-time low, the Solutions Journalism Network has taken on the challenge by organizing collaborative journalism reporting projects that promote excellent reporting and civic dialogue. The model has the potential to be part of a new wave of great local reporting, which is vital to building strong communities,” said Karen Rundlet, Knight Foundation director for journalism.
In its first year, the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative focused on the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte, a rapidly growing region whose citizens face increasing difficulty finding affordable places to live close to work, schools and community centers. This is causing enormous stress on those with the fewest resources, including people of color and working class residents affected by skyrocketing property values and taxes, and the increasing problem of displacement.
While not moving away from this issue, the collaborative has pivoted to currently focus on the immediate needs of Charlotte residents during COVID-19.
Collaborative Case Study II: The Charlotte Journalism Collaborative
To meet the needs of its community during the coronavirus pandemic, a nine-member local news collaborative in North Carolina has hosted virtual town halls and catalyzed new Spanish-language resources
Who We Are
Members of the collaborative include The Charlotte Observer, La Noticia, QCity Metro, QNotes, WCNC-TV, and WFAE 90.7FM, as well as the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, and Free Press, a community-engagement organization.
Formation of the group was led by Michael Davis, South Region Manager for the Solutions Journalism Network, based in the Charlotte area. Primary representatives of the collaborative are:
- Hilda Gurdian, Publisher and founder of La Noticia, the primary media outlet serving the Latino community across North Carolina
- Jim Yarborough, Publisher of QNotes, the innovative media firm established to serve the LGBTQ community in the Charlotte area.
- Amy Lehtonen, Director of Digital Media for WCNC-TV, an NBC affiliate owned by TEGNA Inc., and one of the major television stations in the Charlotte region.
- Glenn Burkins, Editor and Publisher who founded QCity Metro, the leading news website serving the African-American community in the Charlotte region.
- Jennifer Lang, Senior Editor, Digital and Product at WFAE, the NPR news station in the Charlotte region.
- Ju-Don Marshall, is the Chief Content Officer of WFAE, the NPR news station in the Charlotte region.
- Sherry Chisenhall, Executive Editor at the Charlotte Observer, the leading daily newspaper and news website in the Charlotte region.
- Rick Thames, Executive in Residence at the James L. Knight School of Communication, and former Executive Editor of the Charlotte Observer.
- Alicia Bell, Community Organizer with Free Press, a community engagement organization working in the Charlotte area.
- Seth Ervin, Chief Innovation Officer for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, which works closely with the CJC, hosting charlottejournalism.org and providing meeting and event space throughout the city.
- Chris Rudisill serves as the Director of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative.
About the Solutions Journalism Network
The Solutions Journalism Network’s mission is to spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous reporting on responses to social problems. We seek to rebalance the news, so that every day people are exposed to stories that help them understand problems and challenges, and stories that show potential ways to respond. For more information, visit solutionsjournalism.org
About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.
“Creating a Charlotte with more opportunity for people to shape their community and be part of its growth, means ensuring that they are equipped with the information and the avenues they need to contribute. Solutions Journalism will help push this important goal forward,” said Charles Thomas, Knight Foundation program director for Charlotte. The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more information, visit knightfoundation.org.
Chris Rudisill, Director, Charlotte Journalism Collaborative
Anusha Alikhan, Communications Director, Knight Foundation
Michael Davis, South Region Manager, Charlotte Journalism Collaborative