Research & Community Listening Project

The Blue Ridge Mountains

Western NC

In 2022 the NC Local News Workshop launched the first phase of an ambitious research and community listening project, with the goal of understanding news and information ecosystems in distinct regions across the state. The first phase of this project is focused on Western North Carolina (WNC), the state’s 18-county mountain region.

How do WNC residents get the news and information they need? Where are the gaps? What issues matter to particular communities? What challenges do they face?

The WNC research project will focus initially on learning where Western North Carolinians are getting the news and information they need in the course of daily living—information about jobs, transportation, healthcare, local government, schools—looking especially at underserved and underrepresented communities. As we delve deeper into selected communities, we hope to uncover needs and opportunities that tap into a larger and more sustainable ecosystem.

One of the NC Local News Workshop’s major initiatives is helping news organizations forge closer relationships with the communities they serve. We also recognize that many of the communities we are reaching out to in the WNC Research Project are not served, or are not served well, by existing news organizations. We hope the findings from this research and community listening project will reveal opportunities for deeper community engagement, new collaborations, or even new or expanded news initiatives.

Progress Notes

Over the course of the 12-month project, we will be meeting periodically with WNC journalists and news organizations to provide updates and gather feedback. We will also publish occasional highlights here and in the NC Local newsletter.

At the end of the year, we will present a detailed report of findings, with selected community stories and suggestions for next steps.

Share Our Survey

The WNC Research and Community Listening Project is drawing on multiple research methods. In addition to one-on-one interviews and community listening sessions, individual surveys will provide valuable insight into Western North Carolinians’ news and information sources and habits.

If you have contacts in the region who could help distribute the WNC News & Information Survey, please let us know. We will soon have digital surveys available for sharing, and we can also provide print versions to local agencies and organizations, in environments where hard copies may be more appropriate or have the potential to reach a wider audience.

Learn more about the Workshop’s texting and privacy policies.


Brenda Murphree, Fellow
WNC Research & Community Listening Project
(828) 242-2978

Shannan Bowen, Executive Director
NC Local News Workshop
(910) 442-6520

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NC Local News Workshop