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Charlotte Talks: How Local Journalism Serves And Evolves Amid A Pandemic


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Even before the coronavirus took the world by storm, local journalism struggled to make ends meet. During a pandemic, factual, community-centric information is more critical than ever, and local media is evolving as we speak in order to both inform and survive.

The Hispanic population of Mecklenburg County has grown 28% in recent years, but there are remarkably few Spanish-language resources to meet that need. Publications like La Noticia, a Spanish-language newspaper, are particularly important for this moment, considering that an estimated 70,000 households lack internet in Mecklenburg County. Schools and libraries remain closed as a result of the coronavirus, and thousands of families simply can’t get online, making access to basic information virtually impossible to find. Print copies of the paper are available for free at places like grocery stores, one type of business still allowed to remain open under the stay-at-home order.

Despite COVID-19 disproportionately impacting communities of color and African Americans in particular, Qcitymetro.com, a black-owned and operated website, was one of the first publications to report on the inequalities. Among other achievements, their reporting successfully urged county leaders to create a testing center in west Charlotte.

The Charlotte Ledger has emerged as a business newsletter, recently ramping up coverage and extending its reporting to health and politics. Queen City Nerve serves as an alternative weekly paper that specifically searches out underreported stories and covers them in depth. Their business model expanded within weeks of the outbreak - while free copies are still available for pick up in the city, they now include the option for a delivery-based subscription.

We talk to four local media outlets that reflect the Charlotte community, are adapting to the pandemic and fill the gaps mainstream coverage has left behind.


Hilda Gurdian, publisher of La Noticia, The Spanish-Language Newspaper

Glenn Burkins, founder and publisher of Qcitymetro.com

Tony Mecia, founder and publisher of The Charlotte Ledger

Ryan Pitkin, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Queen City Nerve

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.