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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Members of the media are encouraged to both participate in and report on the News Voices: North Carolina event on Sat., Aug. 26, at 1 p.m. in Charlotte.

“The News Charlotte Needs: A Public Forum on the Role of Journalism in Tackling Inequity” will bring together local residents, media makers, activists, artists and others. During the event, community members will sit down with reporters to discuss the stories they want the media to cover.

Charlotte’s leaders have been engaging in a conversation about the city’s lack of economic opportunity ever since a 2013 Harvard University study ranked Mecklenburg County last out of 50 major U.S. metros for economic mobility. Earlier this year, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force released a report recommending changes across the city and county’s institutions. Meanwhile, residents of Charlotte are grappling with the many problems this report identified: racial segregation, lack of social capital, and struggles to access educational opportunities, health care and affordable housing.

“We believe local media have a very important role to play in moving Charlotte from talk to action on these longstanding issues of inequity,” said Fiona Morgan, director of the News Voices: North Carolina project. “Journalism has the power to hold leaders and institutions accountable for their actions, or lack of action.”

News Voices forums use structured, small-group conversations to give everyone who attends an opportunity to speak. “One of the most important things journalists can do is expand the network of people they talk to so the public hears not just from official leaders but also from people living with these issues every day,” Morgan said. “That’s why we design these forums so that reporters sit and listen to the people they serve.”

Event details:

WHAT: The News Charlotte Needs: A Public Forum on the Role of Journalism in Tackling Inequity
WHEN: Sat., Aug. 26, 1–4 p.m. (doors open at 12:30; light refreshments will be served)
WHERE: Grimes Lounge, Student Union, Johnson C. Smith University, 100 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte
RSVP: Alicia Bell at or Fiona Morgan at

These discussion forums are one way that Free Press’ News Voices: North Carolina project invites the public to take part in a conversation about the future of journalism. The initiative also helps newsrooms across the state deepen local engagement, find new sources and broaden their audiences. News Voices is committed to centering the experiences of people of color, who the news media have historically underserved or misrepresented.

“Journalism is the first draft of history,” said Alicia Bell, a Charlotte native and organizer for News Voices: North Carolina. “If our communities want to ensure that our stories are recorded and passed down for generations to come, building relationships and working with journalists is one way to do that.”

The Charlotte event is the first in a series of News Voices forums across North Carolina. It comes after months of planning, outreach and interviews with members of the media and civic organizations in the state. The project launched in April with receptions in Charlotte and Durham that featured lively discussions about the ways local media can strengthen communities. In July, News Voices hosted small gatherings in Charlotte to gather insight into the city’s news-and-information ecosystem.

News Voices: North Carolina is an initiative focused on deepening engagement between communities and local newsrooms to make local journalism more responsive and relevant to residents. The project builds off a similar initiative in New Jersey, where Free Press is leading efforts to create sustainable support for public interest-driven news and information that amplifies the voices of communities of color. 

News Voices is a project of Free Press, a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization that is working to create a world where people have the information and opportunities they need to tell their own stories, hold leaders accountable, and participate in our democracy. The News Voices project is made possible in part with grants from the Democracy Fund, Democracy Fund Voice, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Community Foundation of New Jersey.

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