How would you describe The Assembly

It’s a digital, statewide magazine about people, institutions, and ideas in North Carolina that launched last month. We publish two to three new stories each week; a subscription costs $3 a month for access to all content, with one free article per month, and a weekly newsletter. We’re focused on deep, long-form reporting and smart-ideas writing about the state, and our intention is to give great writers the time and space to take a big swing at compelling stories. We think North Carolinians want that kind of magazine-style writing you can read about national figures—and that kind of reporting should be done here. 

What niche does The Assembly fill in our state’s media landscape? 

I found there wasn’t enough journalism about powerful institutions, especially at the statewide level. There is a lot of innovation in North Carolina around journalism, but a lot is city-specific, like the INDY, or Axios Charlotte, or there are industry-specific outlets like Business North Carolina, EdNC, or North Carolina Health News. I didn’t see a statewide outlet like Texas Monthly or Cal Sunday doing long-form, deeply reported journalism about the whole state, and North Carolina is a compelling enough place to have that. We are a 10 million-plus state and we have the right ingredients to build this kind of magazine.

How do you find your writers? 

We take pitches and are eager to hear from folks who have a story they want to tell. The Assembly has been in the works for nine months, and a lot of that time was reaching out to folks who have written stories about North Carolina before, who used to work in newspapers and magazines across the state—authors based here. In our launch issue, two of our big articles were written by Kevin Maurer and Belle Boggs, authors who live in Wilmington and Alamance, respectively, and that is the kind of talent hidden here. 

What in your background prepared you to launch The Assembly and edit these stories?

My background is as a speechwriter at UNC and higher ed institutions, and my role was largely as an editor of other people’s words and ideas. It taught me to find a compelling story and make it accessible and well-structured, and that’s what I’m trying to do here. We are really a convening place, because we have so many great writers–journalists and academics and folks in policy roles—who have a lot to say about what is going on.

The Assembly is focused on power, you’ve said. Could you talk more about that?

We look at who has power, how they got it, and what they are doing with it. That means institutional power, but it also means movement power and people power. This is about folks who are trying to make change and could be making change, and what they are and are not doing. North Carolina has powerful people who are liberal, who are conservative—and we need an outlet that is going to look at folks regardless of where they are coming from and report on what they are doing. Our focus on power allows us to look at environmental issues, higher ed issues, political issues, cultural questions. It gives us a broad perspective, and we found a good response [from] folks who want that kind of reporting.

Does The Assembly have a progressive or conservative angle from which writers approach their stories?

No. We will be writing articles that will make Republicans upset and Democrats upset, at different times. The best example of an analogy is The Atlantic. It occupies a space where folks on both sides of the aisle see value in its work. That doesn’t mean it reaches for some ideal of both sides in each article, but it approaches writing by working to tell stories and hold people accountable across the spectrum.

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