After about two weeks of prep, the first issue of Triad City Beat rolled off the line six years ago this week — Feb. 26, 2014. It came amid a late-February winter surge; the ensuing road ice would, within a few days, claim my 2006 silver Jetta, which spun out as I crossed the frozen railroad tracks on Yanceyville Street, then smashed face-first into the concrete bridge abutment over the creek.

All it meant back then was that I’d inherit my wife’s beat-ass Saturn Wagon, with the squeaky brakes and sad front bumper, because it was her turn for a new ride. But now I think of it allegorically: the sloughing off of an old husk that, eventually, would evolve into something better.

And so it has.

After six proper years in business, we’ve put more than 300 issues of TCB to bed from our tiny offices on South Elm-Eugene Street, encompassing thousands of interviews, quotes, stories, photos and opinions — moments captured on paper, that most antiquated and ephemeral of media, and saved for posterity in the digital abyss.

We’ve won a good handful of national awards since then, and our writers have gone on to see their bylines in the Washington Post, Gourmet magazine, Teen Vogue, the Raw Story, the Guardian, the Nation, the Bitter Southerner and other outlets that, as a young freelancer, I used to dream of cracking.

Not anymore.

These last six years have shown me that my highest purpose in this business no longer lies in the written word — though I do like to dabble.

It becomes more clear every week that my role is to keep the fires lit, keep the water flowing through the pipes, to hold the line against the forces looking to consume our industry.

And every week, it remains an honor to sit in this chair.

A few years ago, the Saturn died a peaceful death in my driveway, just a few months before I stopped driving a weekly newspaper route. I was able to graduate to something a little less noisy, a little more sleek, better on gas mileage and, ultimately, able to take me further on down this road.

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