Ocracoke Observer editor, Connie Leinbach, greets Durham VOICE student journalists on Ocracoke, N.C. Photo: P. Vankevich
Ocracoke Observer editor, Connie Leinbach, greets Durham VOICE student journalists. Photo: P. Vankevich

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In early August 2016, the Durham VOICE, a community newspaper written by teens, and Partners for Youth Opportunity, the nonprofit that runs the newspaper, teamed with the Ocracoke Observer to bring the teen writers to this Outer Banks island for a working weekend. 

Jock Lauterer, senior lecturer and director of the Carolina Community Media Project at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Media and the founding publisher of the VOICE and the project leader, arranged the visit. 

Joe Caposky. Photo: P. Vankevich

Joseph Cabosky, an assistant professor at School of Media and Journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill, accompanied them and filmed their interactions.  He received the Best Overall Film Award for his feature documentary, “Writing My Own Happy Ending,” in the Marquee on Main Film Festival in the historic Turnage Theater in Washington, Beaufort County, last October. A total of 732 films entered in the festival. 

The documentary will have its Durham premiere at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Carolina Theater, 309 W. Morgan St.  Plans are to show the documentary on Ocracoke in the near future. 

The Durham VOICE is a community newspaper based in the northeast central part  of Durham, and each year students from Partners for Youth Opportunity intern as reporters. The paper acts as more than just a news source for these neighborhoods. It also provides an avenue of empowerment for the young teen writers seen in “Writing My Own Happy Ending.”
The following is from the press release:  
“When this group of young writers takes a trip to Ocracoke Island–a short drive, but a world away from northeast central Durham–they meet with the older staff of the local newspaper. As these two wildly different groups of writers interact, they exchange ideas and share parts of their culture. The teens face the challenge of learning about the island by writing feature stories about its residents. But what begins as a fish-out-of-water story is slowly revealed to be much more. 
Witnessing another community allows the students to realize how much knowledge and power they already have back home.  By using their own platform, they are able to uplift their community and offer a unique perspective. And while they learn so much from adults, they realize that what they have to offer is as valuable as what others have to offer them.”
Durham VOICE journalists attend a Molasses Creek concert at Deep Water Theater in 2016. Photo: P. Vankevich

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