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The Newsroom: Civil discourse isn't dead, news deserts can be irrigated, and beaches... well, they're complicated

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On this episode: Heading into a local election, political tensions are dangerously high. Can we lower the noise enough to hear each other? Plus, news deserts are a threat to democracy. How can we change things? And, beaches are central to local life and local governments — but keeping them from washing into the ocean is difficult and expensive.

We'll talk with Andre Brown and Will Knecht — chairs of the Democratic and GOP parties — about local elections, engaging the public, unaffiliated voters, how to sustain a big tent, and more.

Then, Les High and Sarah Nagem — founder and editor of the Border Belt Independent, respectively — on their new project. The Border Belt aims to provide high-quality, investigative journalism, for free, to newsrooms along the South Carolina border. We'll get into what inspired the project, and why it's important.

And, Port City Daily reporter Preston Lennon joins us to break down the complicated saga of beach-nourishment — that's the complex, expensive, and, at times, politically fraught process by which New Hanover County's beach towns keep their sand, and their economies, intact.

Links for this episode:

  • Wait...did Ben Schachtman say the Russians (technically the Soviets) had a disinformation campaign in the 1980s that tried to convince the Black community AIDS was a lab-created weapon of racial genocide? Yes, he did. Here's more from The Guardian: Russian fake news is not new: Soviet Aids propaganda cost countless lives
  • Want to know more about the Border Belt Independent? You can find more from WHQR here, and you can see what BBI is up to here.
  • Catch up on Preston Lennon's reporting on the beach renourishment saga here.
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Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.