Carrboro Commons

Upstart Northside News connects community

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 in Carrboro Connections by jock

By Louie Horvath

Alexander Stephens is the de facto editor-in-chief of the brand new Northside News, which has released two editions since September. Shown here adjusting the photos outside the Jackson Center. (Staff photo by Louie Horvath.)

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

While it may seem small now, the Northside News has big dreams.

What began in September as a double-sided single sheet of paper hopes to expand into a heftier newspaper comprised of content created by Northside residents.

Northside, Chapel Hill’s historically black neighborhood, has recently seen an influx of college students. The Northside News celebrates that heritage, while still trying to include the newest additions to the neighborhood according to de facto editor-in-chief Alexander Stephens.

“The idea is to create a publication that will keep people connected and keep people informed on things that are going on in the community,”  Stephens said.

“Also to offer people a forum for expressing their ideas. The idea is that most of the content will eventually be produced by people who live in Northside.”

The newspaper, while still in its nascent stages, has shown an interest in ensuring that Northside residents know about events and meetings held in and around their neighborhood.

“The goal is to connect residents, organizations and community centers,” said Hudson Vaughan, artist and scholar in residence at the Marian Cheek Jackson Center. “As we’ve distributed it and talked to people, people seem pretty interested in it. That’s something they would like.”

The Northside News is run by the Jackson Center, which operates out of St. Joseph Christian Methodist Church on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill. Stephens also serves as the associate director for documentary initiatives at the Jackson Center.

The Northside News fits into the Jackson Center’s goal of creating a stronger, healthier community.

The Northside News can also be downloaded off the internet. Shown here is their second issue, which came out in Mid-February. (Staff photo by Jock Lauterer)

“It is about (using the past) to shape a vision for the future of these communities,” Stephens said. “Our philosophy is you can’t really move forward toward the best community that we can have unless we understand where we come from.”

Presently, the Northside News publishes sporadically, being released when Stephens and the Jackson Center staff have the time to work on it. However, they are working toward publishing issues regularly.

“The idea initially was to have it every couple of months,” Stephens said. “We are a small staff and we’ve got a lot of other projects. We have a lot that we need to include in the next one, and it will come out maybe in mid-March.”

Stephens, who once interned at a small newspaper in southeastern Missouri while at UNC-Chapel Hill, graduated last year and went straight to the Jackson Center.

The Northside News had been something that the Jackson Center talked about creating for a long time, but only recently did the time seem right to go forward with those plans.

“It was a pretty collaborative effort of the staff, Alexander’s had a background in working with newspaper, and we had been wanting to find a way to have a print link throughout the Northside,” Vaughan said. “Our thinking was between the Jackson Scholars program and Alexander coming on the staff, and wanting to have some way to really connect people with Jackson Center, the idea just drove.”

One of the first Northside residents to accept the challenge of contributing to the paper was UNC-CH senior Jonathan Tarleton.

His note about living in Northside as a student can be seen in the newspaper’s second edition, released in mid-February.

“I’m very big on getting to know the community I’m in, especially Northside,” Tarleton said. “This community has a strong history, and people on the Northside have a strong relation with the history and the community.“

With local support, this newspaper could continue to flourish.

“So far, everybody’s raved about it,” Vaughan said. “I have a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Who does this? This is great.’ A lot of organizations have taken interest in it.”

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