About Us

Cardinal & Pine is a progressive news outlet that believes at its core in facts first. 

Created in 2020 by Courier Newsroom, which is owned by the progressive nonprofit ACRONYM, Cardinal & Pine is composed of North Carolina-based journalists who’ve made uncovering the truth their top priority. 

We believe the key to a strong democracy is an informed electorate and that the decline of local news around the country has negatively impacted civic engagement. The shuttering of local newsrooms has also led to a rise in unchecked misinformation and political polarization — and this is all happening at a time when we need to come together, as Americans and as North Carolinians. 

We strive to produce local journalism and storytelling that is thoughtful, informative, and relevant to all North Carolinians. Our team aims to cover the people and the communities that are too often overlooked by traditional outlets, as well as the role federal and state policymakers play in our lives and in our communities.

Because whether you live in North Carolina’s mountains or the Coastal Plain or in the Piedmont or the Outer Banks, we all want reliable information about the things that matter most: public education, access to healthcare, the economy, and our government leaders. But we go deeper on these critical issues to find the faces and the places behind every story, to find the families most impacted by the global pandemic and a wounded economy, to explore the ways income inequality impacts North Carolina families, and to address the systemic injustices that have plagued North Carolina’s Black and brown families for generations.  

Billy Ball

Managing Editor

Billy is a veteran North Carolina reporter, columnist and editor with almost two decades of experience in the state. The former managing editor of NC Policy Watch, he is a graduate of the prestigious Hussman School of Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill. A native of Elizabeth City, NC, Billy’s served as a political commentator on local, state and national issues, with a focus on education, healthcare, mental health, immigration, and criminal justice. His work uncovered the mistreatment of a North Carolina inmate with mental illness, reporting that inspired ongoing reforms in prison practices. He’s also exposed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct at the very highest level in the NC General Assembly. Along the way, he’s won more than two dozen state, regional and national awards for his reporting and political commentary. His work has appeared in publications such as The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, Indy Week, and Our State magazine. He’s been a frequent guest on shows like Spectrum News’ Capitol Tonight, WRAL’s Education Matters and on NPR, discussing all things politics in North Carolina. Contact Billy at billy@couriernewsroom.com.

Sarah Ovaska

associate editor

Sarah is a reporter and editor with nearly two decades of experience covering criminal justice, health, state and local government issues in North Carolina and Texas. Her reporting and investigative work has won multiple awards over the years, including those from the NC Press Association, Education Writers Association, Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, and more. She attended Syracuse University and has called North Carolina home for nearly 15 years. Here in North Carolina, her work has appeared in outlets including NC Health News, NC Policy Watch, the (Raleigh) News & Observer. Contact Sarah at sarah@couriernewsroom.com.

Maxwell Millington

Content Producer

Maxwell is a content creator, journalist and social media master from Charlotte. He received his B.A. in Journalism & Digital Media from Queens University of Charlotte. As a student at Queens won several awards including Campus Leader of the Year, Royal Ambassador of the Year, and the Male Humanitarian Award. Max was also featured in the Charlotte Observer and Queens Magazine for his volunteer work as a host and DJ at Ryan Seacrest Studios at Levine Children’s Hospital. Max now lives in Durham and in addition to producing content for Cardinal & Pine and Courier, he enjoys blogging about his hometown Carolina Panthers, spending time with his family, watching and playing sports, traveling, discovering new cuisine and doing volunteer work. Contact Max at maxwell@couriernewsroom.com.

Michael McElroy


Michael McElroy is a journalist, professor and former editor at The New York Times. He teaches writing, reporting and media ethics at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, one of the country’s most prestigious journalism schools. He started his 14-year career at The New York Times as a news assistant, where he helped cover several Iowa caucuses, presidential primaries, and Republican and Democratic conventions. In the days after Hurricane Katrina, he drove a supply-laden RV for The Times from New Jersey through the dark and gas-less wilds of Mississippi and parallel parked it on a deserted Canal Street, which is remarkable if only because only a few years earlier he did $3,000 worth of damage to his father’s car while at a car wash. Among other roles at the Time: Michael was assignment editor on the New York City desk; primary editor of the Times’s 2014 Neediest Cases campaign, a months-long project covering poverty in New York City; and senior staff editor on the Times’ politics desk during the 2016 presidential primaries and general election. He is from wherever he has left big chunks of his heart, including as of this writing Denver, Colo., St. Petersburg,. Fla., New York City, and, now, Raleigh. Contact Michael at michael@couriernewsroom.com.

About Courier Newsroom

Cardinal & Pine is owned and operated by Courier Newsroom, a progressive media company owned in part by the non-profit organization ACRONYM. Courier Newsroom and its affiliated sites operate independently from ACRONYM. The managing editor of each site, in addition to Courier Newsroom’s editor-in-chief, has sole discretion and control over the editorial process.

Current Courier Newsroom Properties