From the editor: Impactful journalism highlights year of audience growth for StarNews
StarNews journalists produce thousands of stories each year about Wilmington and the surrounding communities. We do this because we want to give you news that matters.
Making an impact with our journalism is at the heart of why we chose this profession, and it’s the cornerstone of our award-winning local news coverage.
In 2022, our journalism not only highlighted the tremendous growth and development taking place across the region but also focused on need-to-know content, such as restaurant openings and closings and interesting community events on tap each week.
Here are just a few examples of the impactful journalism our talented staff produced in 2022:
In January, we started the year with a bang with a winter storm that blanketed the area with ice and resulted in some road closures and power outages. As usual, weather coverage continued throughout the year – highlighted by Tropical Storm Colin and Tropical Storm Ian. We gave you the information you needed to know about forecasts, how to prepare and the aftermath of each storm.
More:Coastal North Carolina sees minor impacts from Tropical Storm Colin
More:Hurricane Ian: Cleanup begins, residents urged to use caution if they travel
In April, we published an investigative project exploring the issue of racial segregation in local schools. For more than eight months, regional investigative reporter Matthew Prensky, Wilmington and New Hanover County reporter Emma Dill and former health and education reporter Sydney Hoover investigated the impact of the district’s neighborhood schools policy. They learned that under the policy, a student's race and where they live heavily influence what kind of education they get.
More:5 takeaways from the StarNews' investigation into racial segregation at New Hanover schools
The StarNews also published an in-depth look at Michael Jordan's legacy in Wilmington. Turns out it's complicated. Reporter John Staton examined the perception of Jordan here, what he's done to give back, if more recognition is warranted and whether the city is missing out by not better promoting itself as Jordan's hometown.
More:What does Michael Jordan mean to Wilmington? It's complicated.
In July, we published a 10-month-long investigation that used thousands of records and interviews with dozens of people to examine how gentrification is erasing the history of Wilmington's Northside, which used to be North Carolina's most prosperous Black community. Regional investigative reporter Matthew Prensky produced a well-crafted main story that featured one woman's efforts to preserve a sense of place and belonging for her family. Other pieces of the project included a look at what's attracting developers to the area, a timeline and voices from the community.
More:Her family has called the Northside home for 150 years. Now that history is disappearing.
Five years after a StarNews investigation revealed that the local drinking water supply had been tainted with a toxic chemical since the 1980s, new details continued to emerge. Regional investigative reporter Matthew Prensky published a story revealing that North Carolina officials knew drinking water wells for some residents also were contaminated with GenX and other PFAS compounds, but they waited more than two years to tell residents.
More:NC officials knew some residents' water was tainted. Why'd they wait two years to tell them?
Throughout the course of the year, several reporters produced stories on embattled New Hanover County Commissioner Julia Olson-Boseman. The coverage culminated in September with a story looking at her political rise and fall and a Q&A in which Olson-Boseman directly addressed the controversies surrounding her.
More:From maverick to outcast, the rise and fall of Julia Olson-Boseman in New Hanover politics
More:In her own words: Julia Olson-Boseman responds to allegations, reflects on 20-year career
Meanwhile, reporters Emma Dill and John Staton wrote numerous stories in 2022 about Wilmington’s west bank and potential development there. While there’s still likely more to come on this topic, they took a deep dive analysis with a four-story project in October. Addressing a once-in-a-generation decision over land use, this project explored the debate between commercial development and shared public space in addition to the political, economic and cultural forces at play.
More:4 takeaways from the StarNews' deep dive into the future of Wilmington's west bank
Another impactful storyline in 2022 was the fate of TRU Colors Brewing. In August, reporter Jamey Cross published a story about how tragic incidents were overshadowing the brewery’s mission, which was to bring together rival gang members to make beer. It had attracted praise and millions in investments from the liquor industry. But convincing those at home had proven more difficult. A month later, the brewery announced it was ceasing operations after five years.
More:A Tale of TRU Colors: Tragic incidents overshadow brewery's mission, but work continues
More:TRU Colors Brewing founder says social mission was effective. Why is it closing?
We also made an impact with our coverage of Brunswick County, where we added a second reporting position in 2022. We now have Renee Spencer and Jamey Cross bringing you all of the latest news on development projects, new businesses, road repairs and more.
More: For all of the latest Brunswick County news, sign up for the Brunswick Today newsletter and like the Brunswick Today page on Facebook.
And, finally, I’d like to note that not all news has to be hard-hitting to have an impact. Reporter Allison Ballard has provided top-notch coverage of the local food and dining scene for years. And her stories are routinely among the most read on our website. She’s not only on top of the latest openings and closings but also brings you profiles of restaurant chefs and owners. She also compiles lists, such as her recent look at buzzworthy restaurants that opened in 2022, and she tries a lot of food (check out her list of the best things she ate in 2022).
More: Keep up with the area’s latest food news by signing up for the Port City Foodies newsletter and following us on Facebook and Instagram.
As a result of these stories and countless others, the StarNews has seen dramatic growth in our audience and digital subscriptions. If you don’t already subscribe, I urge you to do so. Without you, this work wouldn’t have been possible.
You can count on us in 2023 to continue providing high-quality and engaging coverage of our community. I hope we can count on you to support local journalism.
Sherry Jones is the StarNews executive editor and can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: From the editor: Impactful journalism highlights year for StarNews