I’m at my desk, checking my growing To-Do list for the day.
Here in my home office, I’m surrounded by stacks of papers, Post-It notes, a calculator, a single clothes pin (what?), an AP Stylebook, pens, scratched-out notes from Tuesday’s election results, lists for the interns, a map of Western North Carolina, drawings and paintings by my oldest daughter and the new IRE Journal. I have, oh, about 30 tabs open in my browser. Thousands of e-mails jam my accounts; my RSS reader groans under the subscriptions.
It’s a cacophony, certainly.
But it’s thrilling, here at the “headquarters” of Carolina Public Press.
After years of dreaming about launching a media organization dedicated to in-depth, enterprise-level reporting and investigative journalism, here I am. With circles under the eyes, copious amounts of newly gray hair and a lightness of being to prove it.
Carolina Public Press launched on March 3, 2011, and it when it went live, I thought it would slip quietly into the stream of Web news and information available. I thought we’d have a tiny bit of time to tweak and fix, to rethink design and content. To get and be perfect.
That didn’t happen.
We became at 11 a.m. that day – the moment it went live – the only nonprofit media organization in 17 counties of western North Carolina to be passionately, obstinately, whole-heartedly devoted to journalism in the public interest, to in-depth, enterprise, investigative reporting.
We went for broke that day. Fifteen months later, we still are.
And, as many people who find themselves as media entrepreneurs and leading new efforts to change the quality and amount of local, regional and statewide news, our efforts are succeeding because of the volunteers, donors, supporters, writers, photographers, editors and advisors who believe that this type of reporting is vital. They are throwing every ounce of talent, experience and expertise (and sometimes money) into making Carolina Public Press succeed.
Today, in fact, we’re in the midst of a long reporting project about missing guns, drugs and money from the evidence room of our largest city’s police department.
For the past several months, reporter Jon Elliston has led Carolina Public Press’ efforts to get public records detailing what went missing, who knew about it and what they’re doing to correct the problems.
At the heart of the question is an evidence-room audit commissioned by the city council, but which now rests with a local district attorney who will not release it.
We’re working with our partners at the region’s TV station, NPR affiliate and local independent weekly to get the audit. And we’re preparing to file a lawsuit to press for its release.
So the To-Do list grows. Perfection remains a dream (thankfully!). But I’m so proud of the work we’ve done already, and our strategies for growing Carolina Public Press are solidifying. There’s a ton of potential here, and we’re determined to reach it.