Shit’s different around here.

The paper’s got a new look, a slew of young talent, a buttload of new readers and we’re finally getting our distribution straightened out in downtown Winston-Salem. (Right, Mike?)

And then there’s me, the last man standing out of the original crew: Not quite a relic, but getting there fast.

Still, I like to keep up with what the young people are doing: their unbelievably raw hip-hop songs, their unabashed Tik Tokkery, their not-talking-about-Bruno. 

And so I’m making what the young people call an “appreciation post” — and what the old-timers in AA call a “gratitude list” — about these developments at the newspaper that I helped start, and that I have pledged to ride into the sunset.

The business has changed so much since I cashed that first journalism paycheck in 1994. I’ve changed, too — not just in the nature of my work in journalism, which these days is mostly relegated to the business side, but in my entire philosophy about our industry.

One thing on which I’ve come around is the use of freelance talent. When I ran newsrooms, I preferred to keep my writers in-house, where I could help shape stories as they went from pitches to reporting rounds to the first few drafts. In my experience, freelancers often filed late, sometimes delivered stories different than the ones you’d expect, resisted multiple drafts.

Now, as Triad City Beat emerges from the last couple years of changes, I’m watching Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka assemble a freelance crew that’s twice the size of any I’d dared to put together in my day, with a plurality of voices and a variety of pitches the likes of which I’ve never seen in any publication for which I’ve worked before.

She’s also trained up two new reporters to buttress our political coverage, no mean feat. News reporters are made, not born.

I’m so thankful for such a badass staff, for the people who think our work is important enough to keep reading and supporting, that I still have a place here in the trenches of history as we compile its first drafts.

Unlike its practitioners, newspapering never gets old.

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