Continued focus on rural news deserts

This post is part of a series of reflections and perspectives about local news and information strategies for 2023 that will help achieve a shared vision for our state’s ecosystem. Read more about the shared vision and collection of perspectives here.

By Les High

Publisher, The Border Belt Independent

There should be continued focus on rural news deserts in 2023. Many rural counties are served by one-person newspaper staffs, if they even have a local paper. Social media posts or blogs often fill the vacuum with hateful, malicious disinformation. Regional, nonprofit newsrooms that focus on counties with similar demographics and challenges are a possible solution.

This is dreaming big, but what if we could fund a series of interconnected regional, nonprofit newsrooms across rural North Carolina that focus on issues? Added to this could be a powerhouse co-op that provides extensive coverage of state government and the legislature, shareable to everyone.

Remember the days when competition among newspapers was bloodsport? Fortunately, that’s changing and we’re stronger because of it.

Another point worth mentioning: overwhelmingly, what we’re hearing at listening sessions, advisory council meetings and civic club visits is that people want to hear more stories of joy and successes. People have always said that, but it seems to be something our communities need at this moment in time.

NC Local News Workshop