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Posts published in “Asheville Watchdog”

Publisher’s Letter: Why Don’t Asheville Watchdog Stories Appear in the Citizen Times Any More?

Gannett says it's all about profits

By BOB GREMILLION, Publisher, Asheville Watchdog

Many of you continue to ask why the Asheville Citizen Times no longer carries stories by Asheville Watchdog

We wondered that too, so we asked. And it turns out, according to Mark Russell, the Memphis-based executive who oversees the Cincinnati-based editor of Asheville’s only daily newspaper, the Citizen Times prioritizes local news that can be put behind a paywall and monetized.

As a not-for-profit local news organization, Asheville Watchdog believes in public service journalism that is freely available to the local community. We don’t put our stories behind a paywall, nor do we allow others to erect paywalls around the work we give to them without charge. 

“I am familiar with the non-profit model you described — and I am sure your content is relevant and useful,” Russell wrote to me in an email exchange in July.


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The Watchdog welcomes 2 to news team

Asheville Watchdog proudly welcomes reporter Scott Carroll and engagement editor John Shore to our news team.

Scott Carroll, a Report for America corps member, will join Asheville Watchdog June 1 to cover reparations, homelessness, and social justice issues.

An accomplished newspaper reporter and editor, Carroll comes to Asheville from The News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon, where he won five first-place awards in the 2021 Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association contest, including Best Writer and Best Story.

Before that, Carroll worked for 17 years at The Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune. As the Herald-Tribune’s projects editor, his reporting teams won awards from numerous organizations and publications, including Editor & Publisher, Associated Press, American Society of News Editors, Society of Features Journalism, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors,


Asheville Watchdog Is Selected As Journalism Service Program Host

Local nonprofit news team to add full-time reparations beat reporter in 2022

Report for America, a national service program that places talented emerging journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities, today named Asheville Watchdog a host newsroom for 2022 and 2023. The award will help support a full-time reporter — Asheville Watchdog‘s first full-time paid employee — to cover topics related to Asheville’s and Buncombe County’s 2020 commitments for reparations to the region’s Black communities.

“We’re grateful to Report for America and to The GroundTruth Project for selecting Asheville Watchdog for this honor,” said Bob Gremillion, publisher. “And we’re especially grateful for the support of our donors in the local community, whose generosity gives us the resources we need to participate in the program. We look forward to welcoming our new reporter to Asheville.”

Asheville Watchdog was selected from among scores of applicants for the Report for America host program,


On Guard in Asheville

Asheville Watchdog is powered by a cadre of accomplished journalists who retired to the North Carolina mountains.

Asheville Watchdogs, from left: Tom Fiedler, Sally Kestin, and Bob Gremillion

[Editor's Note: This article first appeared Nov. 18 in The Assembly, a digital magazine about the people, institutions, and ideas that shape North Carolina. It is reprinted here with permission.]

The view from the deck stretches past a wall of changing trees to the jagged ridge of the Blue Ridge mountains. On a rainy afternoon in October, the sun had just begun teasing its way through the clouds. 

Tucked in the hills of north Asheville, the deck is at the home of Sally Kestin and her husband, Bob Gremillion. They were joined that day by three other retired journalists, transforming the deck into a sort of newsroom for a digital venture that’s not only filling gaps in western North Carolina journalism, but trying to become a model in the state’s rapidly changing media environment.

Kestin and Gremillion started the Asheville Watchdog in early 2020.


A Letter From the Publisher

Dear Friends,

As the publisher of the nonprofit Asheville Watchdog, I have been amazed at what our all-volunteer reporting staff has accomplished in our first year and a half. Of course, my expectations were high based solely on their credentials – three Pulitzer Prizes and impressive careers at some of the country’s leading media organizations. But their hard work and attention to detail is unmatched, especially for a group of retirees! 

Through their meticulous reporting, The Watchdog has revealed the underpinnings and consequences of the sale of Mission Hospital, the misinformation and lies told in the critically important NC 11 Congressional race, and we are preparing to publish a major investigation, the result of a year-long effort, detailing how mostly elderly and Black homeowners have signed over their properties to a local investor and forfeited years if not generations of equity.


Alex Comfort Joins Asheville Watchdog Staff

Alex Comfort

Alex Comfort, a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), is joining Asheville Watchdog as director of fundraising programs for the 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization. A fundraising professional for 35 years, Comfort was formerly Associate Vice Chancellor for Development at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and has twice been named “Outstanding Fund Raising Executive” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, first by the AFP chapter of Greater New Orleans in 1995, and then for the western North Carolina AFP chapter in 2010. 

He has also been a capital campaign field director for Ward, Dreshman & Reinhardt; Director of Development for Covenant House New Orleans; Vice President of the LSU Medical Center Foundation in New Orleans; and Executive Director of the Cradle of Forestry Interpretation Association in Brevard, North Carolina.

A consultant in fundraising since 2011, Comfort is a popular public speaker and has taught a “Fundraising Boot Camp” course in regional universities since 2013. He is the author of “Even a Blind Squirrel Finds an Occasional Acorn: Fundraising Tales from the Front Lines.”

Comfort graduated in history from Sewanee: The University of the South,


Becky Tin Joins Board of Asheville Watchdog

Becky Tin

Becky Tin, a lawyer and former district court judge, has joined Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors. 

Tin, who divides her time between Asheville and Charlotte, was a Mecklenburg County District Court judge for 16 years, presiding over domestic violence cases, high-conflict divorces, landlord-tenant and other civil and criminal matters. 

She received the 2013 Women of Justice Award for Public Service from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly; was recognized as 2018 Judge of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys; and received the 2019 John B. McMillan Distinguished Service Award for exemplary service to the legal profession from the North Carolina State Bar. She also served on the North Carolina District Court Judges’ Education Committee with faculty from the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill, helping to design curriculum and lecturing at statewide judicial conferences.

Before her legal career,


Trish Jones Joins Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors

Trish Jones

Trish Jones, a former senior executive at Turner Broadcasting System in Atlanta, has joined Asheville Watchdog’s Board of Directors. As director she will help oversee overall direction and strategy of the year-old nonprofit news organization.

Jones, a resident of Asheville, was senior director of business planning at the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta before joining Turner. At Turner she held roles as executive vice president and general counsel of Turner Broadcasting International and deputy general counsel of the Turner organization. She went on to become senior vice president and chief emerging technologies officer.

A graduate of Spring Hill College and the University of Richmond School of Law, she earned a master’s degree in international law at Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of the Virginia and Georgia state bar associations.

Jones is also a director of the National Center for Women &