Q&A with Zachery Eanes of Axios Raleigh

Zachery Eanes is a reporter at Axios Raleigh. He previously worked at The News & Observer, where covered technology and real estate, and at the Herald-Sun of Durham, covering business. In this interview, conducted by email, Eanes discusses his role at Axios Raleigh, including his work with its daily email newsletter.

Q. Describe your job at Axios Raleigh. What is your typical day like?

A. I view my job as launching a new media product in the Triangle and getting it to a sustainable place. On a daily basis that means reporting on a variety of news. Essentially, we want to cover the things that Triangle residents are talking about or giving them the news they will be talking about, whether that is politics, business, food or whatever weird thing is happening down the street. 

Typically, though, I tend to cover stories involving business and the economy, while my co-writer Lucille Sherman is one of the sharpest political reporters in the state. 

A standard day involves multiple conversations with sources, my partner Lucille as well as my editor Jen Ashley and Axios Southern Bureau Chief Michael Graff. My office is currently at home, but I try to leave it to work from different parts of the Triangle as much as possible, often to meet with sources or to do reporting.

Ideally, I will have written much of the newsletter in advance, but if not, I write in the morning and go through editing in the afternoon. Some days begin really early — around 5:45 a.m. — if I am the reporter who will be going through final edits with our copy editor in the morning. Lucille and I usually rotate that task. 

Q. The Triangle region is a busy market for news. Where does Axios Raleigh fit into the media landscape here?

A. The Triangle should be a busy market for news. It’s a hub for politics and, increasingly, it’s a hub for business. It’s also one of the fastest growing regions in the country, with many newcomers with no allegiance to a particular local media product.

That growth is creating interesting journalism. There are many great reporters working here and doing important work. It’s also driving innovation at existing outlets and new media startups.

We want Axios Raleigh to be the place local readers get smarter about the topics that matter most to their city in a time-efficient way. 

When it comes to competition, I think of Instagram, TikTok, Reddit and other social media platforms as being just as important as traditional media competitors. People are getting their news (or lack thereof) from everywhere these days, and the fight for their attention span is brutal. 

Our hope is that the Axios newsletter can cut through the noise, grab people’s attention and create a daily habit where people know what stories are important in their community. We’d also like to surprise and entertain readers along the way. 

Q. A big part of Axios Raleigh is the email newsletter. How does it come together each weekday?

A. The newsletter is definitely the biggest part of Axios, and it is where we put the lion’s share of our effort. 

Lucille and I get together every Friday to plan how we would like the next week to look. This usually involves pitching the main story for each day of the week. We aim for around five “cards” in the newsletter every day. 

But obviously, plans change. We update an editorial calendar each day, adding new ideas and bumping stories in case something falls through or big news breaks.

Every day we have a morning meeting with our editors to discuss the next day’s newsletter lineup. We try to have a draft version turned in between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. 

The final draft of the newsletter is edited around 5 p.m., when we send a test version out. If we expect important news to happen later in the evening — say at a City Council meeting — we will add that later. In rare instances, like significant breaking news, we might need to rewrite the newsletter in the evening. 

Finally, in the early morning, we have a copy editor review the final version of the newsletter. Last minute changes are discussed and made then. Our goal is to send the newsletter to inboxes by 6:30 a.m.

Q. What’s ahead for Axios Raleigh and for the overall efforts by Axios to expand into local news?

A. We recently launched a Saturday edition of the Raleigh newsletter and continue to look at different ways to expand our coverage. The goal is to add more reporters, so that we can tackle more stories and do more investigative projects, especially statewide ones with our colleagues at Axios Charlotte. 

Earlier this year, Axios was bought by Cox Enterprises (owners of Cox Communications, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other various companies). Based on everything Cox has said, it is committed to expanding local news at Axios — and there are plans to add several more cities to the Axios Local roster in the coming months, including New Orleans, San Diego and Portland, Oregon. 

I think you will continue to see Axios add cities over the next few years. I’d love to see another one in North Carolina but haven’t heard of any specific plans yet.

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