It’s been a standout year for Carolina Public Press, as we remain the only news source in Western North Carolina (WNC) devoted to providing in-depth, investigative journalism and bringing free regional news to 18 counties.

We also became the first online nonprofit news organization in WNC to be admitted to the North Carolina Press Association. We spent a part of the year building our infrastructure. We formed our first Board of Directors and applied for nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.

However, some of our most fruitful work lies in the year’s exceptional reporting efforts that appeared in 375 published reports.

Carolina Public Press spearheaded a media coalition to make a legal push for the release of an audit record of the evidence room at the Asheville Police Department, eventually filing a suit with the city of Asheville and Buncombe County District Attorney in Superior Court. Still in progress, the push forced an auditing representative to make a public presentation disclosing the “vast disarray” of the room and the admittance of a former evidence room manager to stealing thousands of dollars worth of drugs.

In addition, we’ve furthered efforts to promote investigative journalism in rural North Carolina, including coverage of quality threats on the French Broad River, prevalence of food deserts and efforts to preserve native Cherokee culture in the region.

In terms of community outreach, we launched a highly successful Full Disclosure workshops aimed at training civic leaders, journalists, students and local residents on how to access public information at both the state and federal level. Our latest workshop series spanned three days and attracted more than 100 people.

With these accomplishments at our backs, Carolina Public Press is focusing on the future. Ideally, we’d like to grow our readership. We counted nearly 73,000 unique visitors and nearly 136,000 page views in our first year. We also want to grow our financial resources so we can add staff. We raised about $65,000 from grants and donors in the first year.  However, we’re inundated with requests and suggestions for reporting and are ambitiously planning to meet the needs and demands for more investigative reporting in our region.

We at Carolina Public Press would like to thank everyone at J-Lab and the McCormick Foundation associated with the New Media Women Entrepreneur Award. So much has transpired since we received the honor of being NMWE grantees in April 2012.