Here are examples of my work as an online producer and reporter, including background on how some of the clips came together.
I’ve served as lead producer for the Observer’s online Voter Guide since 2013. The goal was to make our page the go-to place to find information on races in the Charlotte region. The website includes links to candidate profiles, video and other content by newsroom staff, as well as curates non-Observer material such as links to candidate websites and sample ballots from the elections board.
For our May 2014 primary, I also led a 4.5-hour live blog to share election results. The blog began with a 45-minute long chat featuring the Observer’s lead political reporter and our editorial page editor, and a local TV anchor. The blog received 5,118 clicks and 10,271 page views on Election Night, with more from replays. You can watch a replay of the blog by clicking here.
In 2015, we redesigned the voter guide to make it more mobile-friendly and to fit within a broader redesign of the Observer’s print and digital products.
Hurricane Hugo struck the Carolinas in 1989, resulting in nearly 20 deaths and almost $7 billion in damages in both states. For the 25th anniversary in 2014, the Observer interviewed nearly a dozen residents about their memories of the storm. Only a few stories ran in the printed paper, with more coverage online. I published our reporter’s stories into an interactive built using the Tumult Hype software. In addition, I curated our online section about Hurricane Hugo with links to all of the Observer’s coverage, as well as that of our sister papers and news partner.
In March 2014, then-Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon was arrested by federal authorities on corruption charges. He resigned that same day, and is currently serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty in connection with the case. The federal complaint included rich details about the timeline of the federal authorities’ case that served as the initial source of content for the interactive. I expanded it to include information on Cannon’s political background, and other developments of the case.
Mecklenburg’s board of county commissioners has had three contentious fights for board leadership in recent years, including in 2013 effort to oust the current board chair. As has become routine for the board, the commissioners’ debate spilled onto Twitter during the meeting. I was following the discussion from home, when a journalist from another outlet suggested the social back-and-forth might make a good Storify. I took him up on the suggestion, adding some context from my history covering the county. It was a success, with 1,300 page views.
On the early shift, I’m often looking on social media and other sources for local or regional stories that could be talkers during the day. One morning, I saw a few posts from people talking about a spill Luke Bryan had taken at a concert in Charlotte. After finding multiple videos of the incident and a tweet from Bryan referencing the incident, I quickly a story and embedded one of the videos. The story was popular and finished the year as #10 on our list of most-viewed stories in 2014, with the video receiving more than 42,000 views.
Issues abound for new mayor: As the profile of Charlotte’s mayor grows, so do the challenges
Then-Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx announced in April 2013 that he would not seek a third term in office and speculation was high that he wouldn’t finish his second term. (He’d later resign when he was nominated as U.S. Transportation Secretary). Late Friday after his announcement, I received an e-mail from our metro editor assigning me to do a follow-up story during my Saturday shift seeking reaction from a wide array of sources that would take multiple reporters to gather on a business day. But using my sourcing and persistence, I was able to land a 1A story on the suddenly-open mayoral seat.
Board: Jones misled the public: Commissioners say he had right to give $60,000 payout to Crockett, but explanation was late and incomplete.
Tax rate may fall as values rise: Analysis finds room for 6-cent decrease under N.C. guidelines for revaluation
Mecklenburg County reassigned property values across the county in 2011 and there was a lot of concern about what the new values would mean for property taxes. Using data from past county audits, estimates on the new values and a tool from our N.C. Department of Revenue, I was able to estimate the revenue-neutral tax rate that the county commissioners planned to use as a starting point in their budget talks. My estimate came extremely close to county staff’s initial rate, which was adjusted after county staff realized an error in one of their property estimates.
County borrows more without voters’ OK: Method of financing means debt payments take a bigger bite out of Mecklenburg’s budget
Infighting becomes the issue: Animosity among commissioners takes time from board’s priorities
Harry Jones: ‘I feel healed’: Mecklenburg County manager’s faith restored during his battle with cancer
Former Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2011. He initially gave limited details about his exact diagnosis, but gradually began to open up. In June 2013, I sat down with Jones for an lengthy interview about his diagnosis and treatment and how it changed the way he viewed his life.