I joined the Mountain Xpress team in May 2020 as a general news reporter. Three years ago, I spent a summer working as an intern at the Asheville-based weekly publication, and was welcomed back just two days after my virtual college graduation to start reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The newsroom is small, meaning I cover many beats. Most days, I watch and write an update on the state and local response to the coronavirus; I also write longer news features on the virus’ impact to the area’s hospitals, the ways business owners were getting creative to limit aerosol transmission and how virtual schooling affects students with disabilities.
I also cover city government, a beat that taught me more than four years of collegiate journalism classes ever could. I followed the city’s annual budget process, made more complicated by the loss of revenue brought on by COVID-19 and the eruption of racial justice protests in early June. Activists were suddenly calling for a 50% reduction in police funding, prompting the city to pass an interim budget and host a series of listening sessions to reimagine public safety.
The 2020 general election cycle began to heat up in early fall. I covered President Donald Trump’s visit to neighboring Hendersonville to tour a USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program facility, and assisted in live debate coverage between Madison Cawthorn and Moe Davis, two candidates running for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional seat.