At a time when national and state leaders are still sculpting criminal justice reform, The News & Observer is expanding coverage of police, criminal courts and related entities. But not with more crime scene news.
This initiative will go deeper, using data, policy and personal stories to report on powerful institutions charged with both protecting North Carolina residents and addressing inequities.
N&O criminal justice reporter Virginia Bridges will lead this coverage, leveraging years of reporting inside Triangle courthouses, police stations and family living rooms telling important stories well.
"Virginia is the perfect fit for this important role. Her intensity is driven by a natural quest for fairness. Her reporting consistently focuses on those affected the most," N&O Executive Editor Bill Church said.
Bridges will chronicle policy shifts and debates by state legislators, local governments and law enforcement. She will also document the influence of individuals and politics steering practices here.
With all of this, she will bring her commitment to include the voices of people who dwell far from corridors of power.
The initiative is made possible with funding from the nonprofit The Just Trust, a grant-giving initiative affiliated with the New Venture Fund. The N&O maintains independence in reporting and writing for funded positions.
Bridges joined The N&O in 2012, after reporting for the Press Register in Mobile, Ala. and The Herald-Sun in Durham. She expanded her insights about the Triangle one beat at a time, covering business, the complex community and government of Durham and, most recently, crime and courts across The Triangle.
Her journalism has won multiple N.C. Press Association awards, including recognition for coverage of issues such as bail for murder defendants, civil rights lawsuits against police and overturned murder convictions; how North Carolina cities responded to pushes to defund police departments; and the lengthy evacuation of a Durham public housing community after carbon monoxide exposures.
As we launch this effort, we want to hear from readers about stories that need telling. We welcome your tips and ideas here.
The Just Trust, which supports criminal justice reform projects across the country, will also support expanded criminal justice coverage at The Charlotte Observer, one of two McClatchy newsrooms in North Carolina.
McClatchy newsrooms maintain full, independent editorial control of all journalism supported by philanthropy.
Reach Virginia Bridges at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org