In 1993, the metro editor of The Charlotte Observer sent me to Monroe to be the Union bureau chief.
I didn't want to go. Leaving "the big house" of the Observer newsroom was not a good career path, I thought.
But I was wrong.
I went to Monroe, and I had a hot dog at The Oasis Grill. I bought vegetables from the pickup truck that pulled up to my office door. I chatted with the sheriff when he stopped by to visit.
And I learned.
I learned from people like Bob Glendy, legendary fishing columnist, that the stories close to home matter most. I learned from Jim Utter, then a young clerk/reporter and now a NASCAR expert, that a short story previewing an event earns community gratitude. I learned from the chamber of commerce, and the women's business club, that personal meetings tie the community and the media together. I learned good news stories show the wholeness of your lives.
And I learned those community ties matter when it comes time for journalists to ask the hard questions. We earn your trust every time we write about your family's youth sports teams, your neighbors, your whole lives.
So I never left community journalism.
Through the years, I had roles in editing, design, management and technology, all as the voice for local news. For the last four years, I've tinkered with a blog for my neighbors. For the last three years, I dug into technology, business models, marketing and social media, as the term "hyperlocal news" became fashionable. For the last year, I freelanced, taught and consulted in the big world outside newsrooms.
And now I'm back.
I'm the new editor for Cabarrus News. I join a fresh, dedicated team led by Tom Tozer, senior editor for community news, as he focuses on the launch of two community newspapers for south Charlotte, starting April 28.
We're all looking forward to sharing news, and we're counting on your continued help as we tell your stories. Let me know how I can help.