Only because of Observer reporters Ames Alexander and Gavin Off did the public learn about the corruption going on inside North Carolina’s prisons, with officers colluding with inmates.
Only because of Observer reporter Fred Clasen-Kelly does the public know that George Dunlap led secret budget talks with Mecklenburg County commissioners, making decisions by email rather than in a public meeting.
Only because of Observer reporters Danielle Chemtob and Katie Peralta do readers understand how gentrification affects not only long-time residents but also small business owners trying to carry the economy and make a living.
The newspaper industry has been reshaped in recent years, with readers consuming news differently and print advertising revenue falling sharply. At least two other things haven’t changed, and they are as or more important: Journalists’ obsession with finding and reporting the truth, and society’s need for an independent, vigilant press. Yes, the Observer’s staff is smaller than it once was, as is our print page count. But our mission and our commitment to the cause is as strong as ever.
That’s why I’m so excited to be named the Observer’s next managing editor. It’s a challenging but crucial time to help lead the Observer’s newsroom on a day-to-day basis. For 133 years, the Observer has been the leading force telling this community’s stories, holding up a mirror, helping residents identify and solve the region’s biggest problems. Great cities, like great nations, benefit from vigorous journalism – coverage that embraces a place and requires accountability from community leaders at the same time. The Observer and its journalists have loved this city, state and region, warts and all, for generations, which often means telling hard truths.
That will continue. So will journalism that makes the Observer a must-read source of news every day, whether you’re a life-long Charlotte-area resident or a newcomer just learning about your new home. I told our staff: In addition to the watchdog reporting and storytelling we do so well, I want us to break exclusive news more often, and also to dive deeper into important stories to make readers smarter about things going on in our city and state. I think you expect all of that from us. And we have to get those stories to you on whatever platform you want them.
The one thing that makes me most energized and optimistic about my new role? The bright young talented journalists who have recently joined the veterans in our newsroom.
People like Teo Armus, who works tirelessly to bring you stories about populations that have traditionally not had much of a voice, such as immigrants, the LGBT community and others.
Like Annie Ma, who started covering education at the Observer last month, after stints at Mother Jones and the San Francisco Chronicle and as the executive editor of the Dartmouth College paper. She brings sophistication and smarts to one of our most important beats.
Like Lauren Lindstrom, who moved to Charlotte from the Toledo Blade, and who is quickly becoming an expert covering one of the city’s most enduring challenges – affordable housing – full time.
Outstanding journalism costs money, and that’s where you come in. The digital revolution has undercut what had long been newspapers’ lifeblood: print advertising. So if you value a free press, an informed community and a beacon shining light on public officials, give us your support. Subscribe to the Observer, in print or digital. Your small financial commitment is essential, and it’s easy to do here. Charlotte needs a thriving Observer long into the future; help keep us strong, and yourself informed.