Beyond GenX: Reporting on Toxins and the Companies That Make Them

Date & Time
Friday, December 1, 2017 -
10:00am to 11:30am
Halls of Fame, room 128, Carroll Hall; Zoom video conference
Contact Information
Logistic and registration questions: Michael Penny,
Workshop content questions: Melanie Sill,

Click here to register for this free workshop. In-person and video conference space is limited. RSVP required. Participants will receive directions on how to access the webinar after they register.

History of GenX

The chemical compound GenX has been one of North Carolina’s biggest public concerns since June 2017, when the Wilmington StarNews broke the story that the unregulated chemical (used to make Teflon and other products) had been found in the Cape Fear River and drinking water in several North Carolina counties, and that the compound had been tied to health risks in limited studies.

GenX is now shorthand for a larger set of questions about public health and drinking water safety in North Carolina and nationally, and journalists have been challenged to report diligently while accurately representing the many unknowns about potential harm and risk. Unanswered questions focus on DuPont and its spinoff Chemours, which operates the Fayetteville Works plant, and also on how well regulators and utility leaders have served North Carolina residents.

Journalists covering the story of GenX in North Carolina are invited to join a free, knowledge-sharing webinar featuring two national investigative reporters on their related work and the UNC School of Media and Journalism's Chris Roush on digging into companies.

The Workshop/Webinar

The MJ-school , in cooperation with the Democracy Fund’s senior news consultant in North Carolina, Melanie Sill, is hosting a workshop to offer practical guidance and open up conversation about how local journalism can continue to answer public concerns about water safety in North Carolina. Participants can attend in person or via Zoom video conference.

The workshop’s first segment will feature Sharon Lerner and Mariah Blake, who both were honored as finalists for the National Magazine Award in 2016 for work on DuPont, toxins and related issues. Lerner has expanded that work, “The Teflon Toxin,” in a continuing series. Blake, whose “Welcome to Beautiful Parkersburg, West Virginia,” appeared as a series on HuffPost, is working on a book on plastics.

Blake and Lerner will each talk briefly about their respective series and then take questions. We encourage participating journalists to read both series in full and come with questions to make the most of the conversation. Follow Lerner on Twitter @fastlerner and Blake @MariahCBlake.

Following the reporter segment, Chris Roush will lead a session on digging into companies. Roush (@talkingbiznews) is Walter E. Hussman Sr. Distinguished Professor and founder of the Carolina Business News Initiative. Finding information about private and public companies has never been easier than it is today when local, state and federal government agencies provide access to databases via the internet. Roush will give guidance on ways to find news about public companies by looking at where to look in SEC filings, and where to find news about public and private companies by exploring the online databases available.

Click here to register for this free workshop.