The Charlotte Observer Joins American Public Media’s Public Insight Network

Contact: Jacqueline Cartier
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The Charlotte Observer Joins American Public Media’s Public Insight Network

Initiative Facilitates Expanded News Coverage through Active Audience Engagement


Saint Paul, MN(September 14, 2010) American Public Media (APM) today announced the addition of The Charlotte Observer as the latest newsroom partner in APM’s Public Insight Network.

The Public Insight Network, funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is the industry leading platform for journalistic audience engagement, giving individuals a direct channel for sharing their knowledge, experience and insights with reporters around the country. This collaborative model in turn helps newsrooms improve journalistic context, depth and quality while forging deeper connections with the communities they cover.

“We are very excited to have this new way to draw from the vast knowledge base of our community,” says Rick Thames, editor of The Charlotte Observer. “We have a wise and engaged public, and the input will add tremendously to the quality of our journalism.”

Also, in a first for the Public Insight Network, the Observer has agreed to help create a regional insight hub, and to recruit other Carolina news outlets to collaborate. The first partner in that venture is, a local North Carolina web site that seeks to enrich the intellectual and artistic capital of the region with essays, stories and visual presentations.

The Observer is just the latest in a growing number of leading news organizations, from WNYC in New York and The Miami Herald, to Oregon Public Broadcasting and the St. Louis Beacon, that are building and engaging the Public Insight Network to improve the depth and breadth of news coverage.

The Public Insight Network was founded in 2003, and to date nearly 95,000 people around the country have signed up through websites, social networking, blogs, serious games, email surveys, virtual forums and face-to-face interactions. Demographic information and insights are stored in a secure, searchable database. Participating journalists search the database for knowledgeable sources, or use it to test hunches, identify trends and support production of major projects. In the last year alone, Network sources informed or unearthed more than 700 stories for Minnesota Public Radio News and American Public Media shows like Marketplace. Branching into newspaper newsrooms has long been a goal of APM’s Public Insight Network initiative.

“We spend a lot of time researching newsrooms around the country and courting those that value community engagement, embrace collaboration, create opportunity and, above all, pursue remarkable journalism,” says Linda Fantin, director of Network Journalism and Innovation at American Public Media. “We’re thrilled to partner with The Charlotte Observer, a paper known for innovation and leadership and a perfect match for the Public Insight Network.” Joaquin Alvarado, senior vice president of APM, adds, “The new generation of partners like The Charlotte Observer are taking the Public Insight Network project to a whole new level.”

To learn more about American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, visit