Here’s something I say every time the Triad City Beat anniversary rolls around: We didn’t know we were going to make it this long.
Some years it’s been more accurate than others.
Truth: We almost didn’t make it through our first year. Also, our second. And our third. By the fourth year I had enough of a handle on things that I thought we could do this forever — or, at least, for a few more years.
The pandemic dropped right before our sixth anniversary. And not only was I uncertain that the paper could make it through the calamity, I was also pretty sure, in those early, panicky days, that we were all going to die by Christmas.
My opinion has since changed, about all of it.
TCB emerges from the pandemic even stronger than we were going in. We’ve quadrupled our readership, and passed an important milestone: We now have more readers online than we do in print, a tipping point from which there is no return.
More than that, after seven years at this, I’m still here. One of these days, I’m going to get that printed on a T-shirt: “I’m still here.” Perhaps I’ll add: “Motherfuckers.”
I’ve never been one to job-hop, not since 1995, when I worked at three different bars within a six-month span because I got fired a couple times. I kept that third job for about two years, until the graveyard-shift bartender at Igor’s made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I worked at Igor’s for five years, the longest I had ever been employed anywhere until I became editor of YES! Weekly in 2004, where I labored for nine solid years before I got fired on Election Day in 2013.
That’s when we started Triad City Beat. That’s when I became a publisher.
I used to think a publisher didn’t do anything. So certain was I of this conviction that in our founding documents, the job description held no official duties. We gave the largely ceremonious title to our most distinguished founding partner, Allen Broach. I took on the responsibility of getting the paper out every week myself.
How hard could it be?
I wouldn’t call myself the publisher for another couple years, after I truly learned what producing a weekly newspaper and website would entail. Later still, I understood that I claimed my position for one simple reason: Nobody else wanted to do it.
Trust when I say it is an enormous pain in the ass to put out a weekly newspaper (and website!) for any length of time. I would say it gets easier over the years, but that doesn’t quite ring true. I think we get better, that we more fully inhabit our roles, adapt to them like a really good pair of raw-denim jeans that you wear every day.
I know I’ve gotten better. I have new skills, new workflow, an ever-growing network and all the bonuses that come with more time on the road.
Here’s what never changes: How proud I am of the stories we’ve been able to publish these last seven years; the privilege of working with the best reporters I’ve been able to convince to write here; the honor I feel as a contributing member of the Triad media, which I suppose is something I’ve been for more than 20 years now.
Here’s something you might not know: Twenty years is not as long as it sounds, not when it’s spent on a career you love, in an industry you believe in, with people you respect. Seven years… well that’s nothing at all, an eyeblink for an old newsroom lifer like me.
Seven years is when you start to get lucky.
And after seven years, I’m no longer going to say that I didn’t know we were going to make it this far. Because on some level, I did.