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Ten Years at 'The Loaf' and I'm Just Getting Started

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I still remember the bittersweet feeling I got from having my first story published in Creative Loafing.

I was a CPCC student working as a CL intern in the fall of 2008. I had pitched a story about a slew of accidents that had occured at the Duke Energy Center construction site. I had begun looking into the issue after coming across a police report of a glass window dropping from many floors up and landing on a woman's car as she drove through Uptown with her daughter.

I reported on the story, speaking to local OSHA reps and other folks familiar with the site, only to come in on Monday to learn that my story had been killed because the Charlotte Observer had run one similar to it that morning.

On Tuesday, before the paper went to print, I came in to find that a construction worker had died at the site and that as soon as I updated it, we would run the story. The worker's name was Jonathan Beatty, only 24 years old, killed after being struck by a tool that had fallen down an elevator shaft. I can't forget the name, because I still remember the rollercoaster of emotions I went through — a rush of excitement at finally achieving my goal of getting a byline in print, then a strong wave of guilt when I stopped to think about what exactly I was celebrating.

It was an important and humbling lesson to learn. In the 10 years since that December day, I have written countless more stories for Creative Loafing and learned many more humbling lessons. I've gone in depth on crime, homelessness, arts, music, the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Charlotte Uprising and everything in between. And I can't forget The Blotter, which I started writing during that internship in 2008 and have continued doing for a decade — save for a short stint as editor of Union County Weekly in 2013-15.

Creative Loafing is where I learned how to be a journalist, and that's why I'm proud to announce that I will be taking over as editor-in-chief of the paper this week.

Over the last decade, I have worked with many different editors: Carlton Hargro, Mark Kemp, Kim Lawson, Ana McKenzie, Jeff Hahne, Anita Overcash, and finally, Mark Kemp again.

While I learned a lot from all of them, I am especially proud of the work I have done with Mark over the last year and a half, hyper-localizing our coverage of arts and music, shining a light on a burgeoning scene through interviews in print and on our podcast, Local Vibes.

It's been enlightening to learn from Mark, and to be on the front lines as Charlotte's culture continues to bloom as the city grows. I am a firm believer that the city's creatives are in a stronger position to make their voices heard than ever before in this town, and I want to continue to provide a platform for them to do so.

One of the most important aspects of covering Charlotte's cultural scene for both me and Mark during our time working together was to shine lights on the more marginalized corners of the arts and music worlds; folks who don't always get funding from the big name Charlotte arts organizations. Folks like LeAnna Eden, who in two months will host the second annual BLA/ALT Festival, building the event from scratch just to showcase Charlotte's black alternative music scene. Folks like Chanel Nestor, founder of NC Always, who responded to my question about where she gets funding to run her creative consulting and event planning organization with a simple answer: Her day job at Applebee's.

It's folks like these that I want to continue to push to the forefront of Charlotte's cultural scenes, because they deserve to be a part of the conversations being had in Charlotte just as much as any new brewery, restaurant or bar.

I want to keep looking at the fringes of Charlotte culture to make sure to include everyone. For example, when I recently wrote a cover story about the Southern Tiger Collective and the growing street art scene in Charlotte, I heard about a few local graffiti artists who felt slighted that their medium was being underrepresented.

And that's exactly what I want. Am I missing something? Let me know. I still look forward to writing that graffiti story once I connect with the right sources.

In the meantime, is there an amazing singer/songwriter/rapper/artist/dancer/actor/sculptor/activist/advocate/organizer/anybody that deserves the spotlight? Reach out and tell me about them.

That way, we can all shine together.

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