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RTDNAC 2021 'News Operation' Award submission - WHQR Public Media

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Narrative/Letter for Judges

It’s been a strange, complicated year in the news business. Local reporting by WHQR in the Cape Fear region has been no exception.

This 20-minute audio compilation highlights the news coverage of WHQR. WHQR News is Hannah Breisinger, Ashley Brown, Rachel Lewis Hilburn, Rachel Keith, Kelly Kenoyer, and Bethanie Simms. Ben Schachtman is News Director. Doc Jarden is our fellowship/intern coordinator. Included are examples of: election coverage, extreme weather, environmental concerns, rising tensions over Covid-19 precautions and DEI in our schools, public transportation, affordable housing, and more.

We are a small station with just 7 full-time employees, 6 part-time employees, and 5 graduate fellows/interns. Our news staff includes our News Director; our All Things Considered host who also reports; Our Morning Edition host who’s also the station's Program Director and is rarely available in a reporting role; the host of CoastLine, our hour-long weekly news and interview program; two full time reporters who are also weekend and fill-in hosts; a graduate fellow/intern and a community fellow.

With that staff, we're now covering one of the fastest growing regions in North Carolina and in the country. A region that in the last few years has seen more than its share of news—including serious questions about contamination in our drinking water, a year-long debate about the sale of the largest county-owned hospital in the country, constant development battles over the speed and scope of growth, a wave of teacher and school administration firings over alleged sexual misconduct, and issues of race based on Wilmington's long history of conflict and division.

With the struggles of our local paper and a limited number of other local news sources, we're committed to providing in-depth coverage of the meetings and public hearings that affect our residents' lives—whether it's the City Council, the County Commissioners, the School Board, the Planning Boards, or the Public Utility Authority. We recognize that public scrutiny is the best defense against governmental mischief.

We're also committed to covering the lighter side of life—with feature stories that focus on the arts, music and culture of our vibrant and historic downtown. With all that, we’re also covering our growing university, and the environmental issues that go with the beaches and waterways that attract both tourists and retirees.

With news budgets under pressure everywhere, we've made it our mission to do more with less...to provide major-market quality coverage as our region grows into that category.

We are challenged every day by our ambitions, but we are very proud of the scope and the quality of our work with the staff and the resources we have.

Thank you for your consideration,

Ben Schachtman, News Director, WHQR

Rundown of Audio Compilation with Time Codes

TRT of Audio Compilation is: 19:58

Rundown of stories in compilation--with time codes--as follows:

At: 0:00

https://www.whqr.org/local/2020-08-05/nc-teachers-worry-about-the-risks-of-returning-to-the-classroom

At: 1:11

https://www.whqr.org/local/2020-12-09/uncw-settles-federal-discrimination-lawsuit-but-diversity-is-still-a-work-in-progress

At: 2:26 https://www.whqr.org/local/2020-11-23/new-report-on-new-hanover-county-schools-raises-questions-about-equity-school-redistricting

At: 4:08

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-01-11/could-universal-pre-k-work-in-new-hanover-county

At: 6:18

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-03-20/a-look-back-at-the-year-long-debate-over-reopening-nhcs

At: 7:19

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-02-16/officials-confirm-fatalities-and-injuries-after-tornado-strikes-coastal-brunswick-county

At: 8:18

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-03-22/decimated-by-covid-19-restrictions-wilmingtons-bars-and-restaurants-fought-to-hold-on

At: 9:36

https://www.whqr.org/post/its-not-just-you-wilmington-seeing-and-hearing-more-military-fly-overs

At: 10:22

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-05-20/working-like-a-dog-a-day-in-the-life-of-nhcso-k-9-bane-and-his-handler

At: 11:07

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-05-06/wrightsville-beach-captain-jeremy-owens-loved-ones-honor-a-legacy-and-hope-to-increase-mental-health-awareness

At: 12:58

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-06-03/north-carolinas-shoreline-estuaries-are-transforming-into-ghost-forests-but-why

At: 14:08

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-06-03/yes-city-officials-and-staff-clashed-over-a-car-wash-but-also-the-future-of-wilmington

At: 14:40

https://www.whqr.org/2021-04-28/paradigm-shift-new-hanover-area-will-address-all-housing-needs-not-just-workforce-housing

At: 16:16

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-05-24/deep-dive-can-wave-transit-outrun-its-toxic-past-and-turn-things-around-for-public-transit

At: 17:16

https://www.whqr.org/local/2021-06-09/community-groups-clash-outside-nhc-board-of-ed-building-over-critical-race-theory-transgender-athletes