Barbara Wetsig-Lynam appointed Executive Director of Western NC Journalism Foundation Supporting Local Journalism in Western North Carolina

Supporting Local Journalism in Western North Carolina


MORGANTON, NC (May 6, 2024) – Barbara Wetsig-Lynam, a leader in designing and executing philanthropic partnerships globally, has been named Executive Director of the newly formed Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation (WNCJF), based in Morganton.

WNCJF was created in 2023 to support all-local, in-depth, original non-partisan journalism on a broad range of topics for Western North Carolina residents, starting with Burke County.

The Paper, Burke County’s only all-local print and digital newspaper, is one of the benefactors of the Foundation.

Wetsig-Lynam recently was the Principal Advisor for Philanthropy Strategies, Geneva Switzerland, where she designed strategies for individuals, foundations, and trustees from project inception to execution; was Head of Strategic Partnership (Healthcare & Foundation) for the World Economic Forum; was Managing Director, Quality/Accountability & Learning, for ACT Alliance, one of the largest global alliances active in humanitarian response and sustainable development; and Regional Disaster Planning & Preparedness Delegate for the American Red Cross.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy Studies and French from Duke University, and an MBA with Specialization in Nonprofit Management from the University of Geneva.

Locally, Wetsig-Lynam is a co-founder of a community-based nonprofit, Waiting for the Train, advocating for the return of passenger rail through western North Carolina. This growing effort is based in Morganton.

“The fit between WNCJF and Barbara is sensational,” said WNCJF President Allen VanNoppen. “She sees the importance of local journalism, has observed that the landscape has changed dramatically in the last five years as legacy media struggles while a new model of nonprofit media emerges to inform citizens on crucial topics of interest.”

The challenges for local foundations funding journalism require the skills that Barbara brings to the WNCJF, VanNoppen said. “Her leadership enables our Foundation to increase awareness and mechanisms to fund nonprofit, community-focused journalism projects across western North Carolina.”

In addition to leading WNCJF, Wetsig-Lynam will assist the Community Foundation of Burke County with growth and management of the Nelle and H. Allen Smith Limited Endowment, a fund specifically designed to protect The Paper’s financial future.

"I am thrilled to take up this needed community effort to safeguard local journalism,” she said. “Securing our future of continued in-depth coverage of local news and information is paramount for an active civic society.”

 “I share Allen’s vision for honest, transparent, local journalism, locally owned and rooted in the community. The WNC Journalism Foundation is well-placed to be a key partner in achieving this goal,” Wetsig-Lynam said. “The Foundation will initially focus on attracting grants so The Paper can grow its local coverage and ensure all communities in Burke County have the news and information they need to be active citizens. As funding allows, we will engage in a variety of programs for local journalism throughout the region. I look forward to hearing from community members to help drive this vision.”

Recent studies by the University of North Carolina’s Local News Lab report that more than 1,300 communities have lost local news coverage in a nine-year period beginning in 2008. Vast areas of North Carolina lack basic accountability news coverage.

“The traditional newspaper model is broken,” VanNoppen said. “Half of the remaining newspapers are owned by institutions whose cost-cutting strategies have stripped newsrooms of the resources necessary to produce consistent, original local reporting. Local news, nonprofit-supported news, tends to be purpose-driven and deeply connected to the community it serves.”

WNCJF was formed in conjunction with The Paper. While credentialed by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public foundation, VanNoppen strategically waited until The Paper had advanced from a concept and start-up to a proven local news property that dominates its market across all benchmarks, including subscription growth and advertising revenue.

"These advancements would not have been possible without the philanthropic support from community leaders who recognize the need and the potential of The Paper," VanNoppen said.

ABOUT WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA JOURNALISM FOUNDATION: Supporting local-only, locally-owned, nonpartisan print and digital media publications engaging with and informing citizens about local government, education, business, economic development, civic affairs, arts, recreation sports and local community events. Western North Carolina Journalism Foundation is a nonprofit corporation filed on April 13, 2023 with IRS recognition of 501(c)(3) status. Your donation qualifies as a deductible charitable contribution to the extent the law provides.