Why Did This North Carolina Media Outfit Get Support from a National Foundation?

The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation just gave the Carolina Public Press $50,000 in order to "expand its investigative and state government reporting, as well as increase efforts to develop a sustainable model of nonprofit public interest journalism in Western North Carolina." So what made Carolina Public Press so attractive to EEJF?

The Carolina Public Press is an Asheville, NC-based online, nonprofit news agency that provides Western North Carolina with "unbiased, in-depth and investigative reporting as well as educational opportunities to journalists, students and others." They have a strong dedication to public interest reporting and are committed to providing the public with a news source that contributes to an informed and engaged electorate and ensures government accountability.

The EEJF has been very active lately in their support of nonprofit news gathering organizations, and their $50,000 grant to the Carolina Public Press is one of 19 other recent substantial grants given to journalism organizations across the country. So what specifically caught the interest of EEJF?

For one thing, the Carolina Public Press is apparently the only news outfit in the western sector of the state with reporters stationed in Raleigh covering the North Carolina General Assembly, its associated lawmakers, and their policy efforts. At only three years old, the Carolina Public Press is also diligent in sharing their reporting with news organizations throughout the state. Their primary reporting serves nearly one million people on its own, and in 2012, they were recognized for the national New Media Women Entrepreneurship award. So in just a few short years, the Carolina Public Press has carved out a significant niche for themselves and the EEJF has taken notice and rewarded them for their efforts.

The gift strikes us a similar to the recent grant by EEJF to InvestigateWest, another relatively new outfit with a strong track record of covering a specific region (the Pacific Northwest) that's been hit hard by the decline of print media. And, again, one lesson here for other would-be grantees would seem to be to choose a geographic area where you can clearly fill a void.  

"EEJF is excited to form new partnerships with start-up investigative news organizations, as well as continue our longstanding relationships with established groups," explained EEJF president and CEO Bob Ross. "We hope our portfolio of grantees will strive to find innovative best practices for high-impact journalism."

Carolina Public Press' executive director Angie Newsome responded to the gift, saying, "We are honored that the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation has recognized our hard work to improve the quality and quantity of watchdog, investigative reporting in Western North Carolina. We are very excited that our group of journalists can now invest even more in reporting about the overlooked and under-reported issues facing our region — topics that often have impact and influence felt across the state."