A Message from TLR’s Outgoing Editor

Photo courtesy of author.


By Terry E. Cohen

As I work on my last issue of The Local Reporter (TLR), I want to share with readers a look under the hood of this newspaper and to express my gratitude for the experience of being a part of the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Southern Orange County area.

I came aboard TLR on August 16, 2022, just to “help out this little newspaper in Chapel Hill,” as the call from a friend and former newspaper associate requested. My ties to Chapel Hill go back a couple of decades, and my head has hit a pillow there more than once.

In this age of the internet, Zoom meetings and business model changes from COVID-19, it wasn’t a stretch for me to do editing remotely. With a background in computers as well as media, I was working remotely and with clients long distance in different fields before it was “a thing.” Now, it’s as commonplace as oatmeal.

What was to have been a very brief stopgap turned into the actual role of editor of TLR. I immersed myself in the area’s arts, culture, community, governments, businesses, demographics, and its joys and woes—much as any area newcomer would, and perhaps more so. I strived to put my background in community news operations to good use, and I hope I’ve succeeded.

Over these past seven months, I’ve worked with the board of TLR’s nonprofit funding entity, Friends of Local Journalism, Inc. (FLJ), to draw a brighter line between FLJ and the editorial content of TLR—the journalistic equivalent of “separation of church and state.” When the members of the public write an email to editor@thelocalreporter.press, only three members of the editorial team see those communications: the editor, the assignment editor and the compiler of community notices.

That’s exactly how the public should communicate about issues and events to be covered, to share news tips and opinions, and to provide editorial corrections and take issue with something the paper has said or done editorially—not through the FLJ board or through methods the editorial team might never see. Those who are donors or interested in advertising should write to info@thelocalreporter.press.

That way, local residents can help TLR be accountable and transparent, even as it reports to help area organizations, institutions and governments do the same for people who call the area home.

I’m especially grateful to the news correspondents and opinion-interest columnists with whom I’ve worked. In a town the size of Chapel Hill or Carrboro, it’s impossible not to have relationships with some group or persons, but when a rare instance arises that may give an appearance of conflict of interest, the news correspondents are either not assigned to write on those particular issues or people, or else a relevant connection has been disclosed during my watch as editor.

This editorial team has worked so well with me; they are good writers and many take great photographs. They are willing to learn, to teach, to adjust and to share. We’ve expanded the diversity of ages, ethnic backgrounds, and writing experience, working hard to professionalize TLR’s offerings. I also want to thank the industry professionals I consulted for their expertise in helping me make the editorial decisions entrusted to me with continued objectivity and adherence to ethical journalistic standards, as well as the tech folks who made publication easy.

At a time when so many journalists are either losing their jobs, leaving the field for more sustainable positions, or—in some sad cases—losing their lives in the line of duty as recently happened in Florida, all of us need to support those willing to put their names, reputations and even lives on the line to bring us important, useful and verified information in a time of mass unreliable communications.

The Local Reporter’s nonprofit publisher has a stated purpose of education. Therefore, I hope the community will support TLR, financially and otherwise, as a new editor, Carl Blankenship, takes the helm on March 20. He’s an experienced journalist who will be local to Chapel Hill and the surrounding area—the one attribute I could not give to this position, but desired to see filled by another.

With that wish for TLR now a reality, I am confident that the editorial team will take this news source to a higher plane. To those who make TLR possible and to its readers, donors and community at large, thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives.

Terry E. Cohen is the editor of The Local Reporter. She also writes articles for a global media firm on topics related to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) in business and industry.

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1 Comment on "A Message from TLR’s Outgoing Editor"

  1. Charles Humble | March 13, 2023 at 3:53 pm | Reply

    Thank you so much for your service to the community, Terry.
    Job well done!

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