By Daniel Wei
Callan Hazeldine might not have any formal journalism experience, but it doesn’t stop him from aiding the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media’s mission to build a more sustainable future for local news.
Hazeldine has joined the CISLM research team, which aims to study the local news ecosystem and provide the journalism industry with data and analysis about news loss and potential solutions for the future.
“CISLM is a very interesting opportunity for me because it allows me to work in a field I care about — journalism — and the advocacy that comes with it,” he said. “But I don’t have to have formal training (in journalism) to do so. I can use my data analysis and research skills.”
As research intern, Hazeldine is helping CISLM to collect, clean and visualize data for North Carolina local news outlets and is helping with the 2022 Diversity Audit for NC Newsrooms. His research tools include the R programming language, Excel and geographic information system (GIS) mapping.
Hazeldine graduated from UNC in December with a public policy analysis degree, and for the next year, he’ll be continuing his studies as a member of the university’s inaugural class of the Masters in Public Policy.
As a public policy student, he’s particularly interested in the strong correlation between local news and civic participation. His journey in the newspaper industry began last September at the nonprofit student newspaper that serves UNC, The Daily Tar Heel. He was drawn to the position because of his familiarity with nonprofits – his mother worked for nonprofits – and a desire to support community organizations.
DTH General Manager Courtney Mitchell was searching for a new student director of fundraising. It took just one 10-minute telephone call for her to hire Hazeldine.
“I could tell he had a skillset that could fill the shape of any container,” she said. “Anyone who works with Callan is going to find that out about him.”
Hazeldine’s versatility and understanding of nonprofits helped him thrive in his role. On top of regularly communicating with donors via newsletters, email and the phone, he helped spearhead the DTH’s very first annual student phone-athon — where almost 40 students made more than 2,000 phone calls to donors and DTH alumni.
“(Callan) really impressed me with his hard work, his ambition and his creative strategy,” said former DTH Managing Director Paige Ladisic, now director of growth and revenue for The Assembly.
In the meantime, he’ll keep finding ways to interpret the vast datasets CISLM uses to learn about the state of local news.
“He’s very good at looking at the data and understanding the story the data is trying to tell you,” Ladisic said.