I love writers.
I love talking with writers about their stories, mapping out ledes and structure. I love sharing the tools I’ve picked up over the years, and catching the gleam in a young wordsmith’s eye when they finally start to get it. I love getting my hands in the copy, smoothing sentences and moving big chunks around, whacking out passive verbs and dangling participles, and otherwise enforcing the rules of good writing.
These are the things that my writers hate.
But they knew that, from the beginning, I was going to be a jerk about the writing.
I’m genuinely touched that so many of our former writers contributed something for our 5th anniversary publication — for free! — and even more so that this newspaper has had such an effect on their lives.
I know it changed mine.
From the beginning, we wanted this place to be different: a safe place to work on our craft while the journalism world was crumbling around us. We all knew that a newspaper could never love us back, but we went ahead with it anyway.
Five years in, we’re still at it — in no small part thanks to the writers who filled our pages with stories.
I love them all.
— Brian Clarey
Kat Bodrie (Barstool columnist, 2017)
The first time I stepped into the Triad City Beat office, I was a total fangirl, having followed Jordan’s edgy reporting, Brian’s insightful editorials and Eric’s foray into local booze culture since they were at another publication. I felt unworthy as I scanned past covers, taped up as bespoke wallpaper, but the guys exuded an energy that made me feel not only welcome, but immediately part of the team.
Over the next few months as the Barstool columnist, I came to learn a few things: Eric has a keen ear for phrasing; Brian successfully skates the edge between crazy and cool; a regular writing practice in journalism can increase one’s comfort in interviewing strangers; and no matter how I once felt, I am worthy of my idols.
Since then, I’ve funneled my craft beer interest into a blog, but I’m still keeping up with Brian and crew in their devotion to topics and angles not represented in local mainstream media.
Happy birthday. Y’all still kick ass.
Eric Ginsburg (Founding editor, 2014-18)
Triad City Beat is, in many respects, why I stayed in Greensboro for so long. But it’s also why I left.
Six months after graduating from Guilford College, I returned from a month-long road trip across America without a job, and little direction. With a degree in history and a smattering of professional experiences — making smoothies at the Juice Shop, babysitting, pretending to be a competent valet and working as a community organizer — I sent out an urgent plea to the “adults” I knew in Greensboro. I offered to do anything; ‘Maybe you need help with yardwork?’ I suggested.
While I waited to hear back, I pestered Brian Clarey for an internship. With some nudging from Jordan Green, who’d read my writing for The Guilfordian student newspaper, Clarey finally let me come aboard in January 2011.
Even though I’d long been pulled towards the alternative press, I’d never considered it as a career. But as friend after friend moved away from the Gate City, working with Clarey and Green enabled me to build a life and a career in the place I’d come to love. Without that opportunity, I’d likely be doing something far less enjoyable and rewarding, and I would’ve been forced to look beyond Greensboro like my peers.
I never questioned my decision to quit a stable job to form Triad City Beat with Clarey and Green. It wasn’t just the youthful naivete of a 26-year-old; I understood the risks, but we’d built a trust, camaraderie and working relationship that made the jump the right decision. I believed in us, and in what we could build. Plus, if you ever have the chance to leave a toxic employer and hand in your resignation letter at the same time as a colleague, I highly recommend it.
I spent the next four years trying to make Triad City Beat into everything we’d dreamed of, and more. It quickly took on a life of its own, and that’s because so many of you picked it up and made it yours, leaving your imprint on the shape it would take.
Parts of creating a business and keeping it alive are miserable. I’d love to pretend that I grew to love my delivery route or say that the stress of cutting sections to avoid its collapse brought us closer together. In reality, there’s no neat bow to tie on it. But I don’t regret any of it, and the hard times aren’t why I left. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Triad City Beat — by which I mean not just the newspaper, but the people who embody it — allowed me to leave. It put me on a path to pursue bigger stories and write for bigger publications. It gave me self-confidence and encouraged me to think bigger. It let me dream even bigger.
It’s also partially responsible for my relationship.
I asked out Kacie Ragland, love of my life, after she came to TCB’s first anniversary party at SECCA. Four years later, we’re celebrating in Brooklyn, where we moved in 2018 and where I freelance full-time. I’d like to think I would’ve found a way to ask her out regardless, but I never would’ve made it as a freelancer — let alone one in New York — without City Beat.
I miss the TCB family and wish I could be there to toast all of you in person, but more importantly, I’m proud of what we built and where TCB is going. It’s so gratifying to step away and see something you helped create flourish, to see new people join the mission and make it their own. TCB will always be an integral part of my story, but what gives me even more satisfaction is knowing that — whether big or small — it’s part of yours, too.
Anthony Harrison (Intern, 2015; sports columnist, 2016)
To say, “I grew at Triad City Beat,” would vastly undervalue the importance my tenure at the paper played on my personal, creative and professional development.
I stepped into the TCB offices as an editorial intern, partnered with now-associate editor Sayaka Matsuoka. I was then something of a mess, as are many recent college grads — a decent writer, but one without concrete direction for my life or my career.
Two years and two months later, I left a different man.
If you’d told me I’d write sports for nearly two years when I began in journalism, I would’ve laughed in your face. But covering sports and leisure for TCB taught me invaluable lessons about writing: pinpointing the drama of a moment, capturing all the senses, discovering beauty in loss as much as in victory. I look back now and proudly admit most of my best writing was for the sports column.
I also made lasting friendships. Brian Clarey, Jordan Green and Matsuoka, as well as former associate editor Eric Ginsburg, are all such special people who’ve seen me through good and bad.
I would be remiss if I didn’t state that I quit drinking while working for the paper. The support and encouragement I received from the TCB crew played a key role in my successful sobriety — going on four years without a drop.
Last but certainly not least, I met the love of my life through the paper. Former intern Joanna Rutter and I celebrate our third anniversary on TCB’s fifth birthday.
I didn’t just grow at TCB. I didn’t just make memories I’ll treasure forever — though I’ll never forget attending major-league games at Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium; watching Rhiannon Giddens chug kale soup after a show and making “Weird Al” Yankovic laugh.
I owe my confidence, my principles, my purpose — my life — to the paper.
Joanna Rutter (Intern, 2016)
I earned my confidence at TCB. There’s a strength that comes from telling a true story well and learning the science and art to pitching a story, asking the right questions, pausing in an interview for the right answer, digging online for the missing nugget, writing something unpopular because it deserved to be said.
I got some humility, too. Something about staying up all night on a Sunday to have a story turned in before the Monday meeting, or a story I then had to turn back and edit down some more, for meager clicks and views on a slow week — you really don’t do this journalism thing to feel big.
I found my community again through TCB. Before interning, I had a small sense of belonging to certain neighborhoods, but it wasn’t until I wrote for the paper that I actually knew all three Triad cities well. When you meet a city’s artists, small-time politicians and cultural curators, you really do meet the finest sample of dreamers. It was easy to see the Triad through their eyes.
I lost my faux-liberalism at TCB. That’s not a guaranteed side-effect, but it was the last push I needed further into leftism. TCB is unabashedly progressive, and doesn’t apologize for it, and I needed that.
Lastly, I found love at TCB. This is not guaranteed but it has worked out great for me.
Joel Sronce (Intern and sports columnist, 2017)
You never know when the course of your life might change.
I was waiting at an auto shop, only a couple of months after moving to Greensboro, flipping through a nearby newspaper oddly named Triad City Beat. An ad for an internship caught my eye. A week or so later, during that unsettling purgatory between Donald Trump’s election and his inauguration, I walked into a newsroom for the first time and met Brian Clarey and Jordan Green. A few days later, I was offered an internship, and a couple months on, a position as the sports columnist. The latter was a dream of mine from a young age, and the course of my life did change. My time at City Beat introduced me to the trade, expanded my strengths as a writer, lengthened my worldview and sponsored my fascination with the intersection of sports and politics, an interest that has since led me into graduate school in Chapel Hill, buoyed by a letter of recommendation from Eric Ginsburg. There were plenty of memorable moments in the newsroom. We’d riff on the day’s events with compassion, awe and laughter. But just as often, it seemed, we’d fall into silence for a moment. Disbelief, uncertainty, anger.
In mid-February I was at once dismayed and proud to read Jordan’s account of the most recent devastating ICE raids, of the activists standing up to them, and of his own call to action to resist the terror imposed on our neighbors. It will take more than Jordan Green to turn the tide of the venerable American traditions of xenophobia, state violence and family separation. But one of the important forces in that fight will be the publications and the journalists who demand that those realities are faced not as only a series of numbers or an analysis of policies, but as indefensible practices we should rail against. I’m grateful to have cut my teeth in that tradition, to have confronted this political moment by their sides. I’m proud of the writers who came before me and the ones who followed. I’m proud that Greensboro has City Beat to call its own.
Danny Wirtheim (Intern, 2015-16)
Watching the Triad City Beat editorial team process the news was a fascinating thing to witness. One of the three editors — while I was interning, it was Brian, Jordan and Eric — would get a piece of news and then announce it to the newsroom. That news would stir around the room as everyone asked questions, trying to find the context that framed it best.
I felt that I could actually see Brian’s brain working as he went through this process. He would stand next to his desk with an unlit cigarette in his hand as the new information filtered through his constantly-updating model of the world. He would take a few moments to go over each facet of the new information before finally arriving at the lede, the point where this new information would most affect the readership.
I remember meeting Jordan in Winston-Salem to report for a cover story on a new pedestrian path that was to be built. We walked — burnt shoe leather, as the newsroom saying went — and filled our notebooks. We talked to citizens and made notes on the new pathways that were to be built. It feels so mundane, but it was a powerful feeling for me as a recent college graduate to be outside of the university and practicing my skills in a way that was really meaningful to the Triad citizenship.
On another occasion Eric Ginsburg took me court reporting. I learned how to pull files, how to talk to the administration and what to pay attention to. It was something I never learned in college and I admired the way Eric had learned to navigate that system.
Craftsmanship shouldn’t be a new concept, but with the push-notification economy of newspapers today, I think that taking the time to construct real perspectives and burning shoe leather is a bold notion.
When I think of Triad City Beat, I think of real people who actual care about what they’re doing. I couldn’t imagine a better place for developing a sense of craft. Theirs is a model for small newspapers of the future. I wish them the best for years to come.
Ian McDowell (Freelancer, 2014)
Happy 5th birthday! I’ll always be grateful to Brian for giving me my start and encouraging my attempts at literary journalism, and to TCB for printing my cancer memoir.
Ryan Snyder (Freelancer and, photographer, 2015-17)
It feels inevitable that there will be some Bukowskian biopic about Brian Clarey, and not only because there are likely hundreds of signed copies of The Anxious Hipster and Other Barflies I’ve Known to be skimmed from used bookstore bins around the Southeast, and very likely the Delta regions. It’s a pretty great starting point at least, because like “The Rock Says…”, the real story gets way, way better after the last page.
Maybe it will be James Ransone. Or Colin Hanks, following in his father’s footsteps in portraying canny, grizzled newsmen. But there will be a scene where the person portraying Clarey is on the phone with one of his longtime former writers, unconvincingly trying to sell him on his belief that the general public will fill its pants in delight over the clever reference in the name of his new altweekly concept.
“Triad City Beat. TCB. Takin’ care of business. It’s an Elvis thing, you know.” I might not get it, but the people who need to will, he promised. “Okay, Brian. You’re gonna do great no matter what.” Cut to his former writer less than five minutes later, taking a seat at a bar in Charlotte’s NoDa district. Emblazoned on the wall is the initialism ‘TCB’, riding a hand-painted lightning bolt across it. I never said it would be a very good movie.
That’s the kind of hubris it takes to go off and start any print publication from the ground up in 2014, let alone an altweekly, with the pivot-to-video circle jerk in full swing. Brian, Jordan and (formerly) Eric have witnessed some of the most iconic weeklies in the trade fold since, not because consumption habits have shifted, but because the moral tenets of ownership have. LA Weekly. East Bay Express. Creative, uh, somethin’. All pillars of culture whose cachet has been siphoned off and diminished by people without the best interests of their communities in mind.
But here you’re holding in your hands a sincere, incorruptible and defiantly anti-capitalist (heh) model for media. Its imperatives will always be derived at the ground level for those on the ground. It’s the spiritual kin of protest and boycott; of The LAnd and QC Nerve; of everything that’s right and just with your city, anywhere that may be.
Jeff Laughlin (Sports columnist, 2015)
My artistry lies somewhere in a cavalcade of maestros’ teachings, but my use of that artistry lies firmly in Greensboro and Triad City Beat.
My one-line openings and penchant for turn of phrase developed under Brian. My refusal to accept truth handed down from singular authority developed under Jordan. And my eye for subjects came from Eric. And that’s just the writing aspect.
I couldn’t have survived the weird, collected and overwhelming struggles I’ve seen without having written at TCB; without knowing at least I held a small audience, once. My whole life I’ve vacillated between wanting attention and refusing power and oddly enough I feel like that vomited out of me in my sports columns a few years ago.
Getting to cover the people who pour their lives into physical entertainment allowed me access to a side of the Triad that most ignore: the parents at baseball games, the small-college coaches, the kids working their asses off in gyms with no spectators.
Triad City Beat were my readers, my editors and my friends who believed in my craft — I didn’t just fill column inches, I was molded to present myself as an authority. This crew does that so exceptionally well without giving themselves any credit.
But most of all, I got to be that professional.
I get to look down at this weird meatsack body that has tried to kill me since the day I was born and hold up the newspaper with my name on the cover. I can hold that until my body wins and there’s not a damn thing it can do about it.
Thanks, TCB. May you outlive us all somehow.
Savi Ettinger (Intern, 2018-19)
Before sending the email asking about a possible internship at Triad City Beat, I let at least five other people read over what I wrote before I hit send. I’m pretty sure I let someone else hit send, actually.
Although I love writing, I have lacked confidence at times, especially when it involved talking to others. I stuttered my way through thesis presentations and poetry readings in college.
Through being an editorial intern, I’ve been able to cut down on that anxiety. I kept a healthy bit of fear to keep me going, rather than a general worried attitude, especially when it comes to being myself and doing what makes me excited to continue.
I correct people on my name now. I’ve gone by Savi to basically everyone for over three years now, but I used to hesitate with asserting it.
I credit the moment that I was asked upfront what I wanted my byline to be as the moment I began to be more self-assured as a writer. I’ve got a complicated relationship with my legal name and with gender. Getting to choose what name I wrote under seems simple, but it was the first step in me becoming more confident in my writing.
Every week, I got to meet someone new, talk to someone different, experience something I hadn’t before, and most of the time I went to events alone. I used to stay within my comfort zone but being with Triad City Beat helped me look at discomfort as nothing more than an adventure I haven’t yet had.
Sayaka Matsuoka (Intern, 2015; associate editor, 2019)
When I graduated from college almost five years ago I, like many of my friends and fellow graduates, had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my life. College was easy. I had a plan, I knew where to go and what to do for four years. After that, I figured I’d try to get a job with my art history degree (ha!) and make it out in the world. When I failed to get into the one public graduate art history program in the state, my quarter life crisis really began to set in.
That’s when I discovered TCB.
I applied for an internship and astonishingly, got accepted. In the five months that I worked at the small, just-starting, altweekly, I learned everything that would change the course of the next few years of my life and beyond.
I learned to interview and really listen to people when they talk. I learned to write, I learned to edit, I learned to have more faith in myself.
When I finished my stint and moved to the Triangle, I had the clips and the confidence to pitch to Indy Week. During my two years in Chapel Hill, I continued to write regularly for Indy and amassed dozens of clips and even branched out to writing a piece for Durham magazine. In between my random service jobs and even a few months working for a larger company, journalism was the thing that kept me going. It was the constant in my life. On nights when I came home and cried for hours because I felt lost in life and hated my day job (and there were many), being able to find and tell stories was what kept me sane.
When my fiancé and I moved back to Greensboro last summer, I reached out to TCB and began working as a staff writer covering culture. After a few months, I was promoted to associate editor.
Coming back and working for TCB again is a true homecoming for me. I finally feel like I know what the hell I’m doing and love doing it. There’s still so much to learn and I can’t wait.
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