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Free Press’ News Voices: North Carolina team and the Observer have co-hosted these conversations since May. This time, we met on the patio of BLKMRKT, a Black-Owned creative studio and gallery in the city.

With residents from East, West and North Charlotte, this group represented a range of geographic communities. A mix of Black, Brown and White folks, formerly incarcerated Charlotteans, baby boomers and millennials helped create a space filled with an abundance of identities.

We had conversations about how to report on economic mobility, how to write about policy for people who think policy isn’t for them, and how to create additional public conversations between journalists and the community members they report on.

Here are a few of the memorable comments from the evening:

  • “A lot of times, corporate media wants community views, but [as an artist] the same journalists don’t view my photos. It’s not reciprocal.”

  • “Journalists are in a precarious place because, for many people, the truth is malleable.”

  • “I don’t want to know about policy, I want solutions [I want to know] what to do.”

During each of these monthly gatherings, we discuss how to transform the discussions into action. At the same time, we remain grounded in the awareness that genuine relationship building needn’t always be measurable, productive or visible.

And it’s that genuineness and authenticity that allows me to believe that whatever is happening in this container that we’re all co-creating, it will shift the culture of journalism in Charlotte. It will probably shift in ways that we don’t yet know are possible. And for that reason, if nothing else, this work and our time together holds value.

Check out some photos from our October gathering in Charlotte:

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