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Raleigh Convergence is changing. Here’s why.

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen, Raleigh Convergence editor and publisher.

From the editor: The early spring trees are blooming pink and white around Raleigh. It’s a new season, both literally and figuratively, as COVID cases trending down leads to cautious optimism. 

It’s a time of transition. For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about what the future holds for Raleigh Convergence.

Raleigh Convergence is coming up on 2 years of operation, and it’s not yet sustainable. As our community looks to recovery, local news information needs will change, too. 

In this transition and uncertain future, I turned to you. More than 20 of you, over Zoom calls that lasted from 30 minutes up to an hour, over the last few weeks. This also comes after nearly 80 of you completed an extensive survey in December.

What you shared will set the path to a better Raleigh Convergence and a better way to discover and engage with our community. 

What I’m talking about is no less than a local journalism transformation. This means leaving the parts that don’t work in the past and creating for the ways we learn and connect now.

Raleigh Convergence will transform

Here’s the biggest takeaway from my recent conversations with 20+ readers: Besides the unique COVID analysis, Raleigh Convergence in its current form isn’t distinct enough

First, honestly, it was tough to hear. Then, when I really listened, it was completely freeing. 

We can create a completely new hyperlocal journalism experience for how we learn and engage now, together.

I still believe local journalism can be a tool to build better communities, as I did when I launched Raleigh Convergence in April 2019.

But more creative experimentation is needed to create journalism that serves communities, and Raleigh Convergence is uniquely positioned to be that community resource. 

The vision for the future includes solving for what’s not working

When I asked you about your media habits and what you’d like to change about the news industry as a whole, it was eye-opening.

After all, I’m someone who nerds out on news readership reports and spent her first 12 career years at legacy news orgs, and it was still enlightening.

Our media habits have changed dramatically over the last few years. We’re starting to be aware how and what we consume, with conversation-sparking The Social Dilemma on Netflix or books such as Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism.

You also said in these interviews, the news at large is overwhelming, leading to burnout and tuning out (there’s some research on that, too — and this was before the pandemic). 

One person said that you feel as if the news industry prioritizes their eyeballs over their brains. Others said the news feels commoditized, slanted and negative.

Another common thread: News makes you feel helpless and hopeless. 

I believe we can change that. Local news and community information can be actionable, meaningful and empathetic.

Timeliness to take local action is the primary factor of something being newsworthy for Raleigh Convergence, but I want to expand that news value.

Converge community + news, with your help

In the future, Raleigh Convergence will be bridging the gap between community and news in unique yet relevant ways that are concise and worth your investment of time. 

I also have an ask. I want to keep Raleigh Convergence’s website and newsletters free, so ability to pay isn’t a barrier for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to actionable community journalism.

But forgoing a paywall or traditional metered subscription doesn’t make producing Raleigh Convergence cheaper. Real costs include media insurance, Mailchimp and website hosting.

I’m setting goal of 100 new members by the end of April, our 2-year anniversary month. You can have an active role in deciding what local news future you want to see. 

Are you in? Let’s build the future of local news together. 

What’s next

A new mission statement and hyperlocal journalism process will be revealed over the next few weeks. The best way to stay in touch is to subscribe to the newsletters, which publish Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Sign up here.

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Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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