Fiona Morgan is an associate in research at the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy at Duke. She chairs the Raleigh Public Record’s board of directors.
Journalism is changing – in some ways for the better, in other ways for the worse. Today I’d like to share with you one small development in that larger change that signals hope that we can hold on to the media institutions we need while adapting to the new realities of readership:
The Raleigh Public Record is now a member of the North Carolina Press Association.
The NCPA’s board of directors voted to approve the Record’s application at its 2012 annual meeting last month.
“This is totally new for us,” said Beth Grace, the NCPA’s executive director. The Record is the first nonprofit, online-only newspaper and only the second online newspaper to become full members. (The other online-only member is The Outer Banks Voice. Several nonprofit organizations are associate members.)
Grace estimates that the NCPA is one of about 10 press associations in the U.S. with online newspaper membership.
“Online newspapers are the biggest up and comers,” she said.
What does this mean for the Record and its readers?
“We’re going to keep doing exactly what we have been doing,” said Charles Duncan Pardo, the Record’s founder and editor. “I think we’ve been doing some very good journalism, like William Huntsberry’s piece about the Wake County school board ethics controversy that was, and Jennifer Wig’s story about the politics surrounding the proposed transit tax.”
In the long run, membership will make the Record a stronger news organization, with access to NCPA training, a legal hotline, and other resources.
“We are creating a trusted news source to serve Raleigh,” Duncan said. “Being a member lends credibility to our work.”
The Raleigh Public Record is not a blog. Blogs have a place in the local media ecology, but that isn’t the niche this organization fills. The Record is a professional news outlet that adheres to the ethical code of the Society of Professional Journalists (a beautiful document; you should check it out).
The Record pays its writers in order to ensure a professional quality and credibility in its reporting. Meeting the NCPA’s standards affirms the Record’s commitment to professionalism.
The NCPA is a nonprofit professional organization founded in 1873. It is the state’s leading advocate for public records and open meetings, publishing the North Carolina Media Law Handbook and pocket guides to state statutes, and lobbying state leaders to support open access to government.
Being part of the NCPA “also means we’re a member of an organization with common goals, such as assuring good access to public records and open meetings,” Duncan said. “It’s an honor to be part of that statewide effort to hold people accountable.”
Terms of the Record’s membership do not include voting rights nor, for the moment, eligibility for annual editorial awards.
As chair of the Record’s board of directors, I’m proud and delighted to see the hard work of Charles, Jen, Ariella, Leslie, Will and all the other staff recognized. Not only will the Record be stronger for it, so, ultimately, will the city and the state.
Thanks for reading,