Our Chatham, the student-staffed Reese News Lab news service that delivers news to Chatham County, North Carolina, via a website and newsletter, uses audience-driven reporting as one way to reach readers.
Events are another.
On Sept. 11, Our Chatham will host a community conversation about poverty’s effect on education at the Jordan-Matthews High School Auditorium in Siler City, North Carolina, at 7 p.m. The “One Chatham” event will be hosted in partnership with the Chatham News +Record.
The community conversation is the second for the news service, which uses the Hearken audience engagement model to cover Chatham County, a rural county just west of Chapel Hill booming with new residential growth. Besides letting readers submit questions about what they’d like to know about, Our Chatham hosts community conversations as a way to engage its readers.
“We are hoping to expose more people to what Our Chatham is doing by bringing the community together around issues of importance to them and drilling down on the problems and possible outcomes that could benefit the larger community,” said Hussman School lecturer Eric Ferkenhoff, who leads the Our Chatham project as editor.
A previous May 15 community conversation discussed issues of economic development, housing and disparity across the county and drew over 100 people.
“After our last event in early summer on socioeconomic disparity in the county, we heard from many people talking about poverty and education, and how one impacts the other. We had done stories about poverty and homelessness, as well as education, but this seemed like a great subject to tackle with hopes for potential solutions as well as defining the problem in Chatham,” Ferkenhoff said.
The Sept. 11 conversation is free to attend and will feature as panelists:
Dr. Larry Savage, principal of Siler City Elementary School
Chris Poston, executive director of elementary and middle grades for Chatham County Schools
Jazmin Mendoza Sosa, support specialist at Virginia Cross Elementary School for Chatham Communities in Schools
Tych Cowdin, program director for Chatham Communities in Schools’s school-based programs
Jaime Detzi, executive director of the Chatham Education Foundation