About the Fund for Investigative Reporting and Editing (FIRE)

More About FIRE's Purpose and Activities
Funding, and How You Can Contribute
Service Area
Board Members
Staff Members
Other Members of the FIRE Team


Our mission is to promote locally-based reporting that encourages citizen participation and the sense of community in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region. Because we believe that a strong democracy is based on freedom of speech and access to public information, we provide resources to local activists, reporters and editors who favor these principles.

More About FIRE's Purpose and Activities

When a rural, community-based media organization goes out of business, it is often a death knell for the whole town. As development in our region increases, it is important to us to preserve our Appalachian culture as we embrace the new. This is the purpose of FIRE, a non-profit organization located in Asheville, NC.

For example, when growth occurs, larger media organizations often replace smaller ones. Daily newspapers are usually established or purchased by conglomerates. These papers ultimately tend to base their editorial and content decisions on factors determined by a distantly-located headquarters. Healthy debate (or controversy) is often geared toward middle-to-higher income individuals who advertise with the media outlet. In some communities, residents complain that short shrift is given to stories about people who have lower incomes or belong to minority populations.

For these reasons, FIRE encourages citizen participation and access to information by supporting community media, nonprofit organizations and other worthy community endeavors. Media and nonprofit organizations need support because they are community-based, have very limited resources and are much more likely to focus on issues which directly impact their communities.

FIRE currently offers two services that are designed to support free exchange of information in Appalachian communities. First, FIRE conducts seminars for community-based journalists and nonprofit employees/volunteers to help them learn how to conduct research and how to access public information quickly and efficiently. Second, FIRE operates a free online archive at this site so that community residents and journalists can gain immediate access to new or old stories. Before FIRE launched this archive, there was no affordable mechanism that would enable anyone to search for this information. Even the reporters and editors at the media organizations often could not easily locate old stories, if they could at all.

Some people may remember FIRE when Calvin Allen and his staff did a lot of hands-on research and writing for news organizations in western North Carolina. Those stories led to positive action on many community concerns that had gone unreported. FIRE has now switched from "doing" to "teaching," and is not currently providing reporters or funding to conduct investigative reporting.


FIRE is also supported by seminar participants, community media organizations and individuals. We are always appreciative of support! Follow these links to use our website to become a FIRE contributor or volunteer:
Tell Me More About Contributing
What Volunteer Opportunities Are Available?

Service Area

FIRE focuses its efforts on Western North Carolina, although it occasionally provides services to residents of neighboring states. Anyone can use FIRE's online archive for free, but only media organizations based in Western North Carolina, and special interest publications throughout North Carolina, are eligible to post stories on the archive at no charge. Organizations served include non-daily news or documentary media outlets, and media organizations serving members of a specific minority, gender or sexual orientation. Other community-based and special interest publications outside of FIRE’s service area may archive stories for a fee. Please note that while FIRE's focus in North Carolina is on the western part of the state, all special interest publications in NC are served.

North Carolina: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey (special interest publications from all counties in NC are served)

Board Members

Jeff Fobes, President
Mary Ellen Brown
Nelda Holder
C. B. Squire

Staff Members

Ann Wilder, Consultant
Christina Kaufmann, Archive Volunteer
Bill Scobie, Computer Lab Provider and "safety net of solutions"
Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN), Seminar Hardware Provider
Black Box Studio, Original Web Design and Site Programming


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Fund for Investigative Reporting and Editing (FIRE)
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