Since he left the Leader last year, it's been well-known around town that Mitchell was looking for investors to back him in starting a newspaper. He's obviously found them, but he says he can't disclose the identity of the partners behind Mecklenburg Newspaper Group, LLC, because they'd rather remain anonymous. Mitchell describes his share in the company this way: "I own as much as anyone else, but I don't own a majority."
The total market circulation strategy, where the paper is free and is mailed to customers whether they want it or not, is a bit different from the strategy used by most free weeklies across the county, which depends on getting the customer to pick up the paper from racks around town. It may eventually lead to paid circulation, says Mitchell, or, if advertisers like it enough, things may stay the way they are. There are 25 advertisers who bought spots in the first issue without being able to see what the paper would look like.
But what will the readers think? It's hard to say, since most Huntersville residents probably fit a different profile than the readers of the successful papers in East nowhere that Mitchell modeled the Herald after. They're more educated and they likely weren't born in Huntersville, which has essentially become a suburb of Charlotte. It's also uncertain whether anything interesting actually happens in Huntersville, or whether they'll be interested enough to read it.
But Mitchell has built a career around finding the interesting in the mundane, and he'll have help from a full-time reporter, a handful of freelancers, a columnist or two and Andy Warfield, another Leader refugee who succeeded Mitchell as editor of the Leader after Mitchell left last year. With Warfield now installed as the new editor of the Herald, the curious have to wonder if some of the in-depth political reporting the Leader once thrived upon will find its way into the Herald. . .and whether what remains of the Leader staff will too. *