Carolina Public Press is an investigative nonprofit news organization that serves nearly 1 million residents of the 18 largely rural counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It acts as the only nonprofit regional investigative news service with distribution partners in print dailies, weeklies, online-only, radio and television stations across North Carolina. The region is stymied by a lack of access to fast internet, which makes it a challenge for Carolina Public Press to reach its audience.
To help solve this problem, Carolina Public Press will institute a series of face-to-face forums in those communities. They aim to organize, market, and conduct 18 free and public meetings called the “News Exchange” series. Additionally, it will create four public policy forums called “Newsmakers.”
What knowledge will be gained from this experiment?
Carolina Public Press hopes to evaluate whether this type of engagement program will impact organizational development, particularly in building a base of new individual donors and increasing gifts from individual donors.
By tracking participation and the engagement of readership, Carolina Public Press will determine the long-term potential of this type of reader and donor engagement program to increase readership engagement and, thus, increase the organization’s source of revenue from new and retained individual donors.
This project will also highlight the ability of a rural news outlet to engage readers in shaping the news. Carolina Public Press expects this engagement to increase community ownership and involvement with both the organization and regional and statewide community issues.