A publisher’s reflection: Giving thanks at a 10-year milestone

The new Durham VOICE college staff assembles for a group photo during their orientation site visit to Durham, Jan. 19, (front row, left to right) Professor Lisa Paulin, NCCU publisher; Samantha Perry, UNC; Courtney Staton, UNC; Veronica Correa, UNC; Hannah Towey, UNC; Adjunct Professor and VOICE Founding Publisher Jock Lauterer, UNC; (second row) Dareonna Franklin, NCCU; Diane Adame, UNC; Adrianne Cleven, UNC; Elisabeth Beauchamp, UNC; (third row) Tahlia Dixon, NCCU; Cheyenne Beasley, NCCU; Arianna Swain, NCCU; Spencer Carney, UNC; Sabrina Berndt, UNC; (fourth row) Celia McRae; Hannah McClellan, UNC; Keely Gay, UNC; (fifth row) Natasha Townsend, UNC, Isaiah Johnson, NCCU; Johnny Sobczak, UNC; (back row) Tianna Degraffenried, NCCU; Cameron Rogers, NCCU, Jack Frederick, UNC; Brighton McConnell, UNC; and Will Shropshire, UNC. (Staff photo by Prof. Bruce “D.P.” dePyssler, NCCU)


As every good reporter knows, a proper news story must satisfy a little formula we newsies call “the Five Ws.”

What, who, where, why, when…and sometimes How.

So, here are the 5W’s on our own story.

WHAT: With this new year, the Durham VOICE turns 10, a marker anniversary that could not have been reached without the aid and support of a holy host of civic angels.

WHEN: We are a weekly online community media site and a monthly print newspaper with a circulation of 2,000 distributed to 60 drop spots throughout Northeast Central Durham during the school year.

WHERE: We are dedicated to reporting on the “other Durham,” that part of town bifurcated by the Durham Freeway, left out on the hipster foodie tours, and struggling to come to terms with the ambivalence of gentrification. Call it Hayti, call it the five historic neighborhoods or Northeast Central Durham.  But call it the Community.

WHY: Our mission is help build up this community with relentlessly local reportage of the good things and good people who make our Durham unique and special. We are there to help our people find their voices, so to speak, and help them tell their stories in an authentic, honest and empathetic narrative. Additionally, the VOICE is dedicated to mentoring the urban youth — high school journalists who come to realize the power of the written word and published photograph and how that can change their world for the better. Our tagline says it simply: “Our Times, Our Community, Our Voices.”

WHO: The Durham VOICE is a strategic partnership between the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill, the communications department at N.C. Central University, and the youth development NGO, Partners for Youth Opportunity. Our other community partners include the City of Durham’s Neighborhood Improvement Services, SEEDS, Durham Tech, Hilliside High School, Antioch Baptist Church, and the East Durham Children’s Initiative.

The brainchild of Associate Professor Mai Nguyen of the UNC Dept. of City and Regional Planning, the VOICE grew out of the UNC Center for Public Service’s inaugural Faculty Engaged Scholar program, directed by Lynn Blanchard.

Taking my cue from Prof. Nguyen, I launched the VOICE in 2008-2009, in partnership with NCCU professors D.P. dePyssler and Lisa Paulin; as well as the vital input of the late Earl Phillips and his assistant Melva Henry at Neighborhood Improvement Services and the African-American community, led by the NECD Leadership Council.



This year’s Durham VOICE staff at UNC-CH includes: Co-Editors Samantha Perry and Courtney Staton, Social Media Editor Hannah McClellan, Special Projects Editor Veronica Correa; Sports Editor Jack Frederick, Photo Chief Will Shropshire assisted by Adrianne Cleven, Broadcast Editor Brighton McConnell; Print Editor Misha Maruf assisted by Spencer Carney; Teen Mentoring Coordinator Hannah Towey; and staff writers Diane Adame, Natasha Townsend, Johnny Sobczak, Celia McRae, Sabrina Berndt, Elisabeth Beauchamp and John Bauman.

At NCCU, the reporting class of Prof. Lisa Paulin includes staff writers Arianna Swain, Isaiah Johnson, Tianna Degraffenried, Tahlia Dixon, Cheyanne Beasley, Marquise Little, Heaven Gullate and Cameron Rogers.

Partners for Youth Opportunity teen staff writers, led by PYO Workforce Director Carlton Koonce, include, Teen Editor-in-Chief Qaadir McFadden, and staff writers Cindy Chen, LaMon Jones, Khadijah McFadden and Rocky Jones.

And sometimes HOW:

How do we do it? With the generosity of angels — most notably, publishers and brothers Walter and Lockwood Phillips of the Carteret County News-Times of Morehead City, who donate the printing of each monthly ink-on-paper Durham VOICE. We are forever indebted to them for their generosity.

So, how is the VOICE going to get to its 20th anniversary?

That’s a big question — but I can tell you this, it will be with the help of a host of angels.

To the best of my knowledge, the VOICE is unique in the entire nation: the only collegiate lab newspaper published as a strategic partnership between the state’s historic flagship university and the local HBCU for an inner-city neighborhood.

Long live the Durham VOICE. And thank you for your support and readership.