There’s a word for what we’re feeling here at TCB after the first week of CItyBeat reporting has landed in the books: Stoked.
We built this beat in anticipation of the news desert that’s forming in the Triad, on the assumption that people here want more news about their cities and not less. After one week the numbers bear out: The piece on Greensboro’s Social District dominated the traffic on our site as soon as it dropped; Gale Melcher’s reporting on Winston-Salem’s new license-plate cameras blew up once it got scraped by digital news aggregators.
It’s working. And there’s so much more to come.
Papers like ours, once a supplemental source of news, are being tasked with heavier lifting as out-of-town interests decimate the ranks of full-time reporters covering the Triad. We lost another one this week as longtime Winston-Salem Journal reporter Michael Hewlett announced he would be leaving the daily to work for statewide news outlet the Assembly. The establishment of the CityBeat was not so much a choice as a duty. Because if we don’t do it, who else will?
I recognized the relief in our managing editor’s face when she realized that our little experiment is working, that our battle against the river of local news — always flowing, dense with important stories — had turned a corner.
I once ran a newsroom that had as many as three full-time reporters and a couple of photographers on staff. At the time it was the smallest operation in the Triad, so we battled for scoops while the Greensboro Police Department was trying to wind down a scandal and the city of Winston-Salem was still deciding what to do about Darryl Hunt.
There’s a feeling of power that comes with sending out a platoon of reporters to chase leads or to flood the zone — not, as is so often misattributed to the press, the power to shape the news but to get to the truth of the matter, whatever that day’s matter might be. I’ve been an editor long enough to know that the more reporting we do, the closer to the truth we get.
It’s a tough time for local news these days, when three full-time reporters is considered a large staff. We no longer battle for scoops but instead rely on other newsrooms to handle the stories we don’t have the resources to cover, each of us staking out our own spot in this river of news. It seems there are fewer of us out here every year. And so we’re stoked to add another one to the ranks.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story neglected to mention the WSJ reporter who is leaving. TCB regrets the omission, which has been corrected.
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