From The Editor: Why I Joined The Fight To Save Local News

Save Local News

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By Sarah Ovaska

May 18, 2020

In the midst of a pandemic and an election year, Cardinal & Pine’s Associate Editor Sarah Ovaska talks about why local news is so crucial.

I’m thrilled to join Cardinal & Pine, a new and exciting publication that will cover essential stories we hope North Carolinians will add to their must-read lists. 

A little about me: I’ve worked as a reporter in this state for 15 years. Before that, I was a reporter in South Texas. I’ve covered everything from criminal justice to higher education to health care policy. You may have seen my bylines at The News & Observer, N.C. Policy Watch and North Carolina Health News

Now I get to add Cardinal & Pine to that list.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is a scary and uncertain time for us all. That makes it more important than ever to have experienced journalists on the local and state level help break down and explain these unrelenting and complex forces coming at us. 

Now is a time when more journalists and public watchdogs are needed to keep an eye on the institutions and governing bodies that intersect with our daily lives. We need more, not less, oversight of the groups that run the schools our kids go to, develop policies critical to our state’s economy and play key roles in how we support our most vulnerable neighbors. 

Sometimes I feel like I’m part of an increasingly endangered group here in North Carolina — working journalists. My heart aches to think of all the talented journalists — reporters, photographers and editors alike — this state has lost over the past decade because of broken business models and other forces at play. 

That’s why it’s so exciting to see Cardinal & Pine emerge in North Carolina, and there couldn’t be a more critical time. 

COVID-19 has arrived in our state, already taking lives and bringing a halt to business as usual. And the 2020 election is on the horizon, when voters around the state will cast ballots determining how our country and state will be run. 

This pandemic will surely be a turning point for our state. There likely will be a time when we get on the other side of this that we describe the world as pre-COVID and post-COVID. 

There’s a lot at stake as we move forward. 

North Carolina is facing off against a lethal and disruptive pathogen. We’re in the early stages of  what may turn out to be the worst economic blow to hit this state since… well, ever. More than 885,000 North Carolinians have already sought unemployment benefits since COVID-19 hit 20% of our workforce. That’s a staggering number of households with finances upended overnight.

I and others at Cardinal & Pine will be covering how our state faces off against these challenges, as well as how our schools, workplaces and more are going to change. 

I’ll end by asking a favor. Let me know what’s going on in your community, your city, your county. 

I want to hear how your family and neighbors are affected by federal and state policies hashed out in places where lobbyists often have more sway than citizens. And I want to help inject more accountability into the public structures intended to protect us, help us and serve us. 

You can reach me at [email protected]. I look forward to getting to know you.  


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