Hillside High School journalism teacher Jackie Novotny strikes a playful pose as jouralists from Hillside, UNC-CH and NCCU gather for a “team portrait.” (Photo by Jock Lauterer)

As the Durham VOICE (www.durhamvoice.org) enters its ninth year, when I look back in mind’s eye rear-view-mirror, the thing I see is not the 42 print editions or the hundreds of online versions of our paper.

I see faces.

Vanessa Luo of UNC-CH mentors a Hillside High School Chronicle reporter. (Jock Lauterer photo(

For if there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that community journalism – that all-in, relentlessly local form of journalism — is all about people.

And when we count up our accomplishments, it turns out that the physical newspaper is only the driver, the engine for forming and nurturing relationships, for lifting up urban teens, giving them a break and the kind of opportunities folks raised like me take for granted.

All this came to mind yesterday when, for the second time this month, the VOICE reporters from UNC-CH and NCCU mentored, shared and bonded with teacher Jackie Novotny’s journalism class at Hillside High School, as they worked on this fall’s first edition of their school paper, the Hillside Chronicle.

As the founding publisher of the Durham VOICE, I watched with a deep sense of satisfaction the interaction between Tar Heels, Eagles and Hornets in Ms. Nototny’s lively journalism classroom.

I think the photographs speak for themselves. Onward and upward.

Alex Zietlow of UNC-CH mentors two Hillside High School journaists. (Photo by Jock Lauteer)
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