Arts and Humanities

Melding longform journalism, multimedia to tell N.C. stories

Carolina alumni chronicle North Carolina stories for their digital publication, Bit & Grain,

The cofounders stand together.
Bit & Grain co-founders and Carolina alumni, from left, Baxter Miller, Ryan Stancil and Sandra Davidson.

Carolina alumni Sandra Davidson, Baxter Miller and Ryan Stancil have put so many miles on their Yukon SUV’s odometer that they’ve driven it “out of commission” on their travels across the Old North State.

As they chronicle North Carolina stories for their digital publication, Bit & Grain, their car trips are filled with music, thoughtful conversation, two dogs and — more often than not — barbecue.

“Wherever we are, we will find a local barbecue restaurant,” Miller said.

Their ambitious endeavor — to publish one multimedia story a week about North Carolina’s people, places, issues and culture — is already garnering rave reviews. The narrative stories are interspersed with large photos, video and audio interviews in a clean, modern design.

The Columbia Journalism Review wrote: “It has engagement that would make more established local outlets salivate. … at a time when longform journalism is making a comeback thanks to thoughtful design and attention to audience engagement.”

The three co-founders, all natives of small North Carolina towns, bring to Bit & Grain different perspectives. They graduated with undergraduate degrees in 2011 — Davidson (political science and folklore), Stancil (public policy and religious studies), and Miller (journalism and history). Davidson also went on to receive a master’s in folklore in 2015.

“We were all noticing how North Carolina felt fragmented,” Davidson said recently over a cup of coffee at Sugarland on Franklin Street. She had just come from a photo shoot in Durham for a story about the state’s hip-hop culture. “We wanted to invite people into a conversation that wasn’t divisive and wasn’t just reinforcing one side or viewpoint.”

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