For a third straight year, the reporting staff of The News & Observer will be supplemented by reporters from Report for America, a nonprofit journalism organization that supports local news coverage at hundreds of newspapers across the country.
The reporters will help the N&O continue to provide in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and will allow the paper to enhance its coverage of historically under-represented communities.
Reporter Ben Sessoms, who joined the N&O thanks to Report for America in June 2020, will continue to focus on the pandemic’s effect on affordable housing in the Triangle and beyond. Sessoms is a graduate of Appalachian State University whose work appeared in several Eastern North Carolina newspapers before he joined the N&O.
He will be joined by Laura Brache, a 2017 University of North Carolina graduate who has spent the last year with Report for America in Charlotte, working for public radio station WFAE and La Noticia, a Spanish-language newspaper. Brache was born in Massachusetts and raised in the Dominican Republic. She now lives in Burlington.
Brache will cover minority communities and changing demographics in the Triangle, including demographic shifts in age, education, income and employment. She will begin with the N&O on June 1.
Report for America is an initiative of the GroundTruth Project, a nonprofit news organization that supports journalists worldwide. This year, RFA will place about 300 journalists in more than 200 newsrooms across 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam.
In North Carolina, financial support for RFA reporters has also been provided by the N.C. Local News Lab Fund and the Dogwood Health Trust.
Like newspapers across the country, The News & Observer increasingly relies on support from community members to help offset the costs of covering local news. To make a contribution, go to www.newsobserver.com/donate.