11 news organizations join Elections Funnel training series

The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media will welcome 11 news organizations to UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media this week for a training series that will help them meet the moment of the 2024 elections.

The Elections Funnel is a tactical training series focused on using funnel discipline to drive audiences to high-quality election coverage and convert them for the long haul during 2024. The first session will be hosted at UNC-Chapel Hill on Wednesday, Feb. 7 with a follow-up in late May.

Election years are an important time for building audiences for news organizations. Outlets are planning to allocate significant resources to covering local, state and federal races that impact their communities. Audiences are going to be looking for information that helps them make informed choices.

Programming at the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media is generously supported by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the UNC Office of the Provost.

This application-based cohort was open to teams from the Southeastern United States who have been a part of the UNC Knight Foundation Tables Stakes Newsroom Initiative or are affiliated with the program. Over the last six years, more than 60 news organizations participated in the program, designed to equip news organizations for a digital future. The organizations participating include:

  • Border Belt Independent: A nonprofit, online newsroom that focuses on issues and challenges that affect Bladen, Columbus, Robeson, and Scotland counties.
  • Carolina Public Press: An independent nonprofit news organization dedicated to nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news built upon the facts and context North Carolinians need to know.
  • Charlotte Post: A Charlotte-based award-winning publication covering the Black experience since 1906.
  • CityView Media: An online news organization dedicated to covering local government, schools and other issues important to residents in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.
  • Education NC: A nonprofit news organization that works to expand educational opportunities for all students in North Carolina, increase their academic attainment, and improve the performance of the state’s public schools.
  • Enlace Latino NC: Enlace Latino NC is a digital independent nonprofit news organization published in Spanish that covers politics, government, immigration, and community affairs in North Carolina.
  • INDY Week: Indy Week is an alternative weekly published in Durham.
    The News & Observer: A regional daily newspaper that serves the greater Triangle area based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • The News and Observer: A regional daily newspaper that serves the greater Triangle area based in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • PBS NC: A public television network serving the state of North Carolina.
  • The Current GA: An inclusive nonprofit, non-partisan news organization providing watchdog journalism for Savannah, Brunswick and Coastal Georgia’s communities.
  • Triad City Beat: A weekly print and online media outlet providing news, opinion and cultural coverage of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point.

UNC Table Stakes coach Nation Hahn will lead this training with help from Perel and others. The training will be tactical, with an emphasis on audience experience and performance. Three subject-matter experts will join the teams this week to provide ideas, advice and inspiration: Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen, freelance editor, consultant and strategist; Eric Frederick, of Education NC; and Jorge Millares, CEO of The Creators’ Collective.

“I can’t wait to welcome these teams to UNC. They’re allocating significant resources to covering an important election, at a time when attention is fragmented, where AI is changing the nature of search and where social media platforms send significantly less traffic to news sites,” said Erica Beshears Perel, CISLM director. “We want to help give them resources, but also time and space, to consider how their journalism can get to the folks who need it.”

If you’d like to learn more or have any questions, please email cislm@unc.edu.