The civic accountability reporter focuses on publishing breaking news urgently, as well as breaking news himself or herself through aggressive enterprise reporting and strong local source networks. This reporter pursues exclusive enterprise stories that are essential to readers, hold leaders and institutions accountable and help readers understand the context of events that impact their lives.
The reporter must have a demonstrated commitment to fairness and accuracy, in fact and in tone, and a strong grounding in journalism ethics. He or she must have the ability, or strong desire to develop it, to build reader loyalty, engagement and growth around compelling public service journalism. Reporters are expected to develop a deep understanding of what’s important to readers in Charlotte and North Carolina, and to use that knowledge, as well as digital metrics and social media, to break and report exclusive journalism.
Civic accountability reporters must have the ability to build sources and ferret out facts, as well as the ability to frame and write, shoot and promote a story via search and social media to ensure that it reaches and resonates with our readers.
The civic accountability reporters help readers understand government and the decisions that affect their lives. They understand what is important to readers and hold government leaders accountable for response and resolution. Accountability reporters should regularly use the North Carolina Public Records Law to find potential stories. It’s critical that reporters on this beat build sources in government and also throughout the community to understand the issues that our readers care about. While the accountability reporter will cover some government meetings, he or she is focused on matters of wider interest that impact readers, not on government process.
Duties and responsibilities:
- Conceive compelling enterprise story ideas, with a clear focus on information that will be of keen interest and relevance to local readers.
- Develop broad range of sources on beat.
- Be a master of social media – both as a news-gathering tool and as a way to push the news out quickly and build our audience, as well as your own brand.
- Understand audience metrics – which of your stories are resonating with readers and which are not? Working with your editor, regularly mine this data for takeaways about how we can build our audience.
- Produce basic video and photos in the field. Work with visuals team to add more sophisticated visuals as a fundamental story-telling tool.
- On tight deadlines, write stories that are complete, fair and provide context for readers.
- Write and report on a continuous-news cycle, publishing to digital platforms as well as print.
- Use judgment in determining best digital tools for conveying news to readers in varying circumstances.
- Regularly enhance stories with third-party video, embedded tweets and links to related Observer stories.
- Engage the public: Present events, news coverage and enterprise/public service reporting in a manner in which readers understand the need for action/involvement.
- Use social networks to seek story ideas, report in real time and connect with the community.
- Meet departmental goals: Help formulate goals and actively seek to meet them.
- Participate in training sessions offered and seek out learning opportunities to keep skills updated in a continuously evolving industry.
Education and knowledge: College degree required. Minimum of two years digital journalism experience required. Extensive background in journalism, video and online media preferred.
- Creativity and independence in identifying concepts and ideas for news stories that are exclusive to The Observer and relevant to readers.
- Command of grammar, spelling, Observer and AP style, as well as clear skills in story organization and clear writing.
- Strong story-telling ability and excellent news judgment.
- Fluency in both the art and science of readership and engagement.
- Ability to tell stories using a variety of tools and platforms.
- Enthusiasm for learning new skills and technologies.
- Strong interpersonal skills, including empathy and the ability to take and give constructive criticism.
- Comfort with a job that will be demanding, fast-paced and constantly evolving.
- Expert-level skills at developing and maintaining source networks on a beat.
- Expert-level writing skills in multiple formats – short form, long form, narrative, hard news and features.
- Expert-level research skills in using digital research tools to find information.
- Expert-level knowledge in use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, among others.
- Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in developing and executing long- and short-term projects.
- Fluency in Spanish is highly desirable.
- Ability to evaluate, analyze and interpret complex documents, records, information and events, e.g., property records and court records, depending on assigned beat. Has extensive background in a wide variety of issues, beats and topics.
- Spot local, regional or national trends and find ways to make them relevant to Observer readers.
- Commitment to accurate, ethical journalism.