Building on work by Reese News Lab interns in the Spring of 2017, Reese News Lab launched Our Chatham in 2018, a student-staffed, audience-driven news service covering Chatham County, a rural but growing North Carolina county that has long been neglected by local and regional news coverage . What began in July 2018 as an email newsletter, now includes a website.
Through interviews, observations and prototypes, students identify unmet information needs of Chatham County’s growing and diverse population, with the goal of demonstrating to local news publishers how innovative tools and techniques such as design thinking, audience engagement, data analytics and email delivery might contribute to a financially sustainable future in communities where traditional television and newspaper reporting had faded.
In the first half of March 2019, Our Chatham had 817 site visitors and the email newsletter has grown from 108 subscribers to 300 while maintaining an open rate of between 55 and 70 percent.
Reese News Lab Chief Innovation Officer Steven King runs this subsidiary project focused on creating immersive media with augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, drones and robots.
Carolina Data Desk provides tools and services to small newsrooms that do not have their own data reporting resources. Faculty, students and professionals help reporters and editors in North Carolina and beyond use data to lower the cost of accountability and explanatory journalism as well as develop new products. Carolina Data Desk is also home of the N.C. Votes project.
Each semester, students in MEJO 463: “News Lab: Creating Tomorrow’s News Products” pitch their product ideas to a panel of media innovators and entrepreneurs. We’ve posted most of the past student pitches on our site.