State policies directly affect people’s daily lives, and state-level political battles shape the national landscape. While traditional news coverage of national politics has increased in recent years, state coverage continues to shrink—leaving a void that is too often filled by partisan or unreliable sources. A 2014 Pew Research Center study showed that less than a third of U.S. newspapers have reporters covering their statehouses, a number that has certainly decreased in the last five years.

As a result, important issues in the states are under-covered, with real consequences for real people. Ultimately, the Newsroom exists to provide the relentless stream of quality reporting and commentary that helps sustain a vibrant democracy.

Each Newsroom outlet is led by a veteran local journalist with deep knowledge of the state’s political history and media landscape who oversees a staff of experienced capitol reporters. Our Washington, D.C. bureau reports on congressional delegations and key Supreme Court and administrative decisions that affect the states. The Newsroom’s headquarters is led by Director and Publisher Chris Fitzsimon and includes Deputy Director Andrea Verykoukis, Digital Director Nelle Dunlap, and Media Administrative Professional Tori Addison.

The Newsroom is a project of the Hopewell Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that incubates projects and provides professional support and guidance. The Newsroom and its affiliates are independent, and we decide what we cover.

Chris Fitzsimon

Director and Publisher

Chris oversees the content and themes of the organization, managing financial resources, and supervising the state editors. He also travels frequently to hire and visit editors and grantees and appears weekly on the TV political talk show NC SPIN.

From 2004 to 2016, Fitzsimon was the founder and original director of NC Policy Watch, North Carolina leading online news and commentary outlet, where he led a team of seven journalists, hosted a weekly radio show and wrote a syndicated column on North Carolina politics and government.

Fitzsimon was also the founder and director of Common Sense Foundation, a progressive think tank in Raleigh. From 1991 to 1994, he was the spokesperson, speech writer and policy adviser for N.C. Speaker of the House Dan Blue. Before his stint with Speaker Blue, Fitzsimon was an award-winning television news reporter covering politics and government.

Andrea Verykoukis

Deputy Director

Andrea is the former Communications Director for Public Schools First NC, a statewide education advocacy organization, and a longtime contributor to NC Policy Watch’s blog. She and Chris worked together (many) years ago to quantify the dearth of state political coverage on capital area TV news, a project that helped inspire the creation of NC Policy Watch and later the Newsroom. She plays a long game.

Between stints in the political and journalism worlds, Andrea raised two kids and volunteered for auctions, boards, cancer fundraisers, and as a reading tutor for underprivileged students in Durham and Chapel Hill. Supporting Chris’s work as publisher, Andrea travels regularly to develop leads for editors and reporters in the states and manages day-to-day functions in the Newsroom.

Nelle Dunlap

Digital Director

Nelle oversees the online presence of the Newsroom’s state news outlets, working with the staff of each state on social media strategies, website modifications, audience development, and content delivery. She also provides graphic editorial content for the state outlets and explores new ways to expand the reach of each state’s reporting and commentary.

Before coming to the Newsroom, she spent a few years as the New Media Director for NC Policy Watch. She has also worked as an instructional designer for a kids tech company, and adjunct art professor, a digital storytelling fellow in India, and a freelance web, video, and graphic designer. Nelle has an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BFA from the University of Iowa.

Tori Addison

Media Administrative Professional

Tori’s role with the Newsroom includes assisting the Director and Deputy Director, handling administrative and research tasks, and offering state-level news briefings. She also produces weekly newsletters for Newsroom editors, helps the Digital Director with web tasks, and offers administrative support to the state editors. She previously covered state politics and education for the Register-Star, a daily newspaper in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her experience also includes work for the Jules of Life Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps connect cancer patients with medical care and related resources.

Tori is a native New Yorker who recently moved to North Carolina to escape the snow. She is a graduate of the College of St. Rose, where she studied communications and journalism. As a student she interned with the Times Union, a Hearst publication, and led St. Rose’s student-run newspaper, the Chronicle.