An Open Letter to our Readers

Rediscover reporting rooted in experience and expertise

Dear Readers,

Some of you may subscribe to The Lenoir Voice and/or the Appalachian Chronicle. Others of you do not. I am writing for your help to expand our reach for both publications. If you already subscribe, invite others to do so. If you do not, please do so and ask others to join you.

There is no charge for a subscription and never will be. We do not think you should pay to read the news.

Four years ago this month, we posted the first article on The Lenoir Voice. I ask you to please take the three minutes or so to read it, as there you will learn of the philosophy that led us to establish this publication in the first place. Nothing has changed except the urgency of the times. You need in-depth news coverage and analysis, not the superficial and sensational reporting that has become the standard, whether on local TV or in your local news. We believe you will rediscover reporting rooted in experience and expertise when reading our publications.

The Appalachian Chronicle has been around for about 10 years now. The same philosophy guides it. There is overlap in the publications at times; however, the focus of my coverage in the Appalachian Chronicle has been about the impact of the fossil fuel mono-economy on the people and land of West Virginia, in particular natural gas fracking and related pipeline development. Some of these articles, while heartbreaking or angering even, are still ones I enjoyed writing the most because I was in the field and digging deeper than the surface, so to speak. 

That is what experienced and seasoned journalists do.

By subscribing, our articles will come directly into your inbox. No need to check the website daily (though we’d like that). Plus, because we do focus on field reporting (when I can get back into the field), sometimes I’ll be researching and interviewing for an extended period, meaning that we are focused on quality, not quantity.

Still, you can expect a rich offering of articles. Below is a brief outline of articles we plan to publish over the next several weeks.

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EDUCATION

  • Caldwell County Schools Consider Deep Budget Cuts
  • An article related to the Coronavirus
  • Analysis of North Carolina’s budget, taxing structure and its impact upon the public schools. (I have written about the Leandro Case from day 1. A quarter of a century later, we continue to fail at providing many of our state’s students with the constitutionally required education. My experience as an education reporter, school board member and teacher all work together to inform my writing on this topic).

HUMAN INTEREST/POLITICS

  • What has Happened to Richard Burr? (Note: I was very well acquainted with Senator Burr in the 1990s and beyond. The man I knew then is not the man we read about today. This very personal account of a time that our family spent with then-Congressman Burr is a head-scratcher).
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U.S. Senator Richard Burr

THE CORONAVIRUS AND COMMUNITY DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Mark Twain said to write what you know about. That’s especially true for a reporter. A reporter must be — or become — a subject matter expert on each topic covered. It requires thousands of hours to become an expert. That is why I am confident that we will provide you with some of the most comprehensive reporting you’ll read in Western North Carolina, Appalachia and beyond about community preparedness, response and recovery to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

I hold a post-graduate Certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the University of North Carolina School of Public Health. I am trained as a paramedic and EMT instructor. I have served two hospitals as Safety Officer/Emergency Management Coordinator. I have numerous certifications in the National Incident Management System, Hospital Incident Command System, and HAZMAT. I trained staff in those hospitals in these areas. I served as Incident Commander in numerous disasters, have triaged mass casualty events, and led communities through several exercise scenarios, including a pandemic. Indeed, I directed the emergency response to the H1N1 outbreak in 2009-10 at Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory, N.C. Our crisis communications during this outbreak were cited as a best practice by the Raleigh News & Observer and regional hospital administrators.

I have conducted annual facility risk assessments and threat assessments known as the Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA). I’ve been in command during real emergencies in real time. I was confident each time because of the devoted people with whom I worked in both hospitals and the solid Emergency Operations Plans we had developed based on that HVA. 

So, here are a few of the articles you can expect to see in the coming days and weeks about the Coronavirus:

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  • A Failure of Leadership. On February 15, 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives issued “A Failure of Initiative: Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation and Response to Hurricane Katrina.” We have already witnessed a failure of leadership in planning for and responding to the pandemic, so we’ll use the report from the 109th Congress as a guide as we consider our current situation
  • Community Preparedness and Disaster Management 101 (Conducting an HVA; Writing and exercising an Emergency Operations Plan; Writing an After Action Report and more)
  • Crisis Communication in Disasters
  • Issues in Mitigation
  • The Role of the Military in Disaster Management
  • Healthcare Response Structures (Health Support Structures; Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations; Public Health Agencies; Communications and Planning)
  • Outbreak Investigations
  • Forensic Epidemiology
  • Surveillance Systems
  • Food Safety Preparedness
  • Issues in Recovery
  • And others as circumstances warrant

DIVERSIONS — Collecting oral and family histories and writing prompts

Finally, we can all use a break from the news, so I will also be posting articles about collecting oral and family histories and writing about important people, places and events in our life. Based on my “Just Write” workshop from my “Community of Writers” ( © Michael M. Barrick, 2001-2020) booklet. There is no better time to do it.

  • The Oral History Interview
  • Gathering Your Family History
  • Autobiographical Writing

© Michael M. Barrick, 2020. Mask photo by Ani Kolleshi; family photo by John-Mark Smith; home page photo by David Travis. All on Unsplash

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