How citizen-based reporting got the news

In the early ’90s, more than 20 people filed for the Asheville City Council primary election. Instead of Mountain Xpress reporters interviewing the candidates, the paper asked for community volunteers to help. A group of volunteers met with Julian Price in an upstairs room on Page Avenue. We were given a set of questions to ask the candidates. I was assigned three candidates: a UNCA administrator, a lawyer and an 80-year-old woman. The administrator was very liberal. The lawyer was a moderate. The woman refused to talk with me.

All the volunteers’ information was collected and printed in the paper. The lawyer was one of the winners in the primary.

In 1995, Wayne Stanko was a 54-year-old research engineer for BASF in Enka. He is now retired. He currently publishes the newsletter for the local Mensa group and serves on the Board of Directors of Descriptive Audio for the Sight Impaired, which describes live theater productions for the blind.

Julian Price introduced the results of this 1995 citizen-volunteer-based reporting project: “We at Mountain Xpress want to help you decide whom you’d like to represent you for the next two years. We gathered together a panel of seven interested and concerned citizens (of diverse backgrounds and points of view) to look at all the candidates, ask them a lot of questions and then discuss their findings. …

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About Margaret Williams
Managing Editor Margaret Williams has been at Xpress since 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987.

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