A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SDX Awards: Radio public service, WFAE 90.7 FM

By Quill

“Trust Matters” examined the issue of interracial trust in Charlotte, N.C. Despite the region being ranked as one of the highest in the country with regard to volunteer work and charitable giving, Charlotte was next to last when it came to trusting others of a different race.

WFAE reporters and producers spent months preparing for the project, conducting interviews and doing background research on trust issues.

WFAE’s managers and programming, news, production and community outreach staff participated in the weeklong series of feature-length reports, a one-hour documentary and a community town hall meeting.

The work explored why Charlotteans have trouble trusting one another, the lack of trust in Charlotte’s international community, how children learn trust and the role faith plays in bringing people together or keeping people apart.

Charlotte is a city of churches – more than 700 houses of worship, attended each week by around 400,000 people. An estimated 70 percent of Mecklenburg County’s population attends a religious service at least once a month.

It’s no wonder the Charlotte’s social capital study rated the city high on the scale of faith-based involvement.

On one hand, Charlotte’s faith community would seem like the ideal place to build understanding and trust among the region’s racially and culturally-diverse population.

But step inside most Charlotte churches, and that diversity is hard to detect.

It’s Sunday morning at Ascension Lutheran Church, on East Morehead Street, near uptown Charlotte. Like nearly three-quarters of Charlotte churches – the congregation here is predominantly white.

The picture brings to mind the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 observation that “11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.”

Judges applauded the quality packaging of “Trust Matters.”

“WFAE has tackled an uncomfortable subject that affects everyone and done so in an even-handed, illuminative manner,” said the judges. “Programs demonstrated knowledge and commitment to a changing community.”