This story is part of our 10-year-anniversary issue. To find all of the stories in the issue, go here.

Get over yourself

I knew from the beginning that if I took on this endeavor as some sort of divine ego trip, we would be sunk before we started. So from the get-go I really tried to push my own needs to the margins and act on what was best for the paper. That made it easier to gradually give up writing for the paper so I could spend more time working on it.

Listen to your people

To that end, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people with great ideas and the drive to make them happen. I’ve heard pitches I never could have come up with, and had my own blind spots pointed out more than once.

Robert Paquette

Sometimes you lose one

Robert Paquette sat in the art director chair from 2017-22, the second person in our history to occupy that space. He didn’t drive, so I took him home from work a lot, and he was always up for lunch as long as it wasn’t a smoothie. I was shocked when he died in September 2022 — so fast, so young. But I’m grateful that some of his illustrations and other design work live on in our archive. 

Learn new skills

This business has changed much since I got started all the way back in 1994, when all we had was print and there was nothing else to read. I spent my first couple years as publisher learning about digital marketing, web design and server maintenance. I had to learn how to sell ads — anathema to someone reared in the newsroom — to keep books and do payroll. These days I spend more time making emails than I do proofing pages. And I’m learning to write grants and navigate the realm of philanthropy, which has become an important source of sustainability for local news outlets.

When the worst happens, use it

I’ll never forget Election Night in 2016, when I raced to the office from a GOP watch party to report that Donald Trump had won the election. We had a pretty good idea how bad it would get — our cover the next day was fairly apocalyptic. So we leaned into it, doubling down on our coverage of right-wing extremism and the encroachment of fascism in our country. Likewise, when the pandemic nearly wiped us out, we responded with deeply reported Covid coverage and, when it came time, utilized all of our assets to bear witness to the Racial Reckoning that summer.

What is an altweekly anyway?

I’ve spent pretty much my entire career in altweeklies, a colloquialism for pugnacious free papers like ours known for speaking truth to power, highlighting stories that other media neglect, bringing some swagger and style to the news cycle. But as the media landscape here and elsewhere continues to deteriorate, I feel less “alt” than ever. A few years ago I was wondering if we’d ever be able to get a cannabis writer. Now I’m looking to fund a reporter to cover the school board.

Be fair

I realized a long time ago that “journalistic objectivity” is a canard. None of us are able to filter these stories through our consciousnesses without coloring them in some way with our proclivities and biases. So we can’t truly be objective, but we can be fair. This means, among other things, giving everyone equal say but not giving their arguments equal weight, like: “These people think the LGBTQIA2S+ community deserves equal rights, and these people don’t.”

People love bullshit and hate the truth

Everyone who’s ever worked in this business knows it: People would rather read a happy little lie than an unpleasant, hard-found truth. And people will hate you for delivering those truths. We should never reciprocate that hate, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek it out. One of the highest pieces of praise I can give a reporter after reading their piece is, “They’re gonna hate it!”

Self-care matters

This is a new concept for me — for most of my time in the news game I drove myself like a cheap rental car: hard and fast, and with low-end fuel. In the beginning, I put so much of myself into TCB — literally! — that I lost 25 pounds and my hair started to go gray. But after the pandemic I pulled back as much as I was able, taking most weekends off and recognizing when I’ve given all I can.

It’s a privilege

When I get down about things, I try to remember that it is a privilege to do the people’s business, to record these first drafts of history, to bring into the light those things that might have remained in darkness were it not for us. 

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