A Ledger look back at 2022
From NFTs to Airbnb party houses, from South End development to school reassignment, we covered a lot of ground in 2022 — and gave you local information that enhanced your understanding of Charlotte
We had a blast bringing you smart, original local journalism all year long. Here are some of our favorite stories of 2022.
From minting NFTs of ourselves to watching big development trends, telling important community stories, kicking off a pro soccer newsletter and having a little April Fool’s fun, The Ledger team worked to give you plenty to think about — and talk about — all year long.
We’re a forward-thinking bunch at the Charlotte Ledger, but we find that sometimes it’s nice to look back at where you’ve been before you charge ahead into the future.
The beauty of our Ledger community is that it’s ever-growing, and welcoming new members every day. It’s also full of busy people who don’t always have time to open all the emails they receive, or stay abreast of the news every single day.
So to those two ends, we’re offering you a list of 15 of our favorite stories of 2022. They aren’t necessarily feel-good stories, or ones that our metrics tell us were the most popular with readers. But they’re a sampling of the type of original, relevant, smart journalism that we put at the center of everything we do.
We hope you enjoy!
➡️ “I minted an NFT – and can explain what that means” (Jan. 31) Sometimes we at the Ledger use our journalism skills as a way to explore topics that puzzle us, and that’s what Ledger executive editor Tony Mecia did with this fun piece. He minted special Charlotte Ledger NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, of Ledger logos (and even our own likenesses) to see how the process works. While we didn’t get rich, it was fun to take readers along for the ride.
➡️ “South End’s booming skyline” (Feb. 9) This special report by local development expert Clayton Sealey gave a stunning visual representation of the development happening in South End, with descriptions of 17 projects that are underway and a host of others that are in the works.
➡️ “Tensions flare at Charlotte Latin” (Feb. 23, 🔒) This was the first dispatch in a story we chronicled over the course of the year — how a group of parents at elite private K-12 school Charlotte Latin were at odds with school administrators over how the school handled sensitive topics of race, politics and sexual identity.
➡️ “Ukraine gave them a son” (March 4) As the world watched at the horror unfolding with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Maddox family in Waxhaw worried about the biological family of their Ukranian-born son, Zeke, and friends they made while adopting Zeke from a Ukranian orphanage for children with disabilities in 2011. We introduced readers to this exceptional family of six — including two sons with Down syndrome — and shared their unique adoption story.
➡️ “The future of South End is underground” (April 1) April Fools’ Day is one of our favorite days at The Ledger, when we delight in serving up satirical news stories, briefs and even job postings (and often creating self-fulfilling prophecies in the process). This year we fooled readers with a story about plans to develop a whole city under South End and that hysteria was breaking out over a shortage of Russian Bo-berries. And we shared a “historical” photo of the first Chick-fil-A drive-thru in 1917 at Charlotte’s former Camp Greene.
➡️“Let’s tackle Charlotte’s Chick-fil-A traffic problem” (May 12) The gridlock caused by Chick-fil-A drive-thrus is one of Charlotte’s most grumbled-about traffic issues. Ledger executive editor Tony Mecia unpacked the problem in our weekly Transit Time newsletter and talked to city planners, politicians and Chick-fil-A officials for ideas on what can be done. “With cars consuming entire lanes of traffic in pursuit of waffle fries, it’s also a safety issue — and an issue of basic fairness. Why are we allowing a private company to hijack our publicly financed roads for the benefit of a single restaurant chain — especially one headquartered in Atlanta?” Tony writes.
➡️”Why move Charlotte’s bus station underground?” (June 9) The idea to move Charlotte’s bus terminal underground merits careful consideration, and WFAE’s Steve Harrison gave it just that in this story for our weekly Transit Time newsletter, which is a joint production of The Ledger and WFAE. Harrison looked at problems the city of Denver has faced with its underground bus station and gave deep analysis to what Charlotte leaders have been using as selling points for an underground station.
➡️ “Camper injured in fall at Camp Thunderbird” (June 15, 🔒) In a story that inexplicably received almost zero attention from any other media, The Ledger reported that a 12-year-old girl fell from a zipline and was critically injured at the YMCA’s Camp Thunderbird, which is one of the region’s most popular summer camps. For this story and our follow-up stories in the months that followed, YMCA leaders refused to answer almost all of our questions including the status of the injured girl, how the incident happened, any YMCA investigation into the fall and what’s being done about safety moving forward.
➡️ “10 things Charlotte FC has taught us about soccer” (July 15) We rolled out a new “Fútbol Friday” soccer newsletter this year to keep tabs on the inaugural Charlotte FC soccer season, and the Ledger’s Carroll Walton did an incredible job of chronicling the season for both soccer experts and casual fans. This piece is a great example of how Carroll’s insights enhance fans’ understanding of soccer and helps you feel in-the-know enough to talk about it smartly (say, at a holiday party).
➡️ “The problem with park rentals” (July 29, 🔒) Some community groups that want to rent park facilities in Mecklenburg County are at odds with Mecklenburg County’s Park and Recreation department over what they say confusing and costly rules regarding rentals. It’s an issue that some community organizers say is keeping them from doing important work to help the city’s less fortunate.
➡️ “Stopping Charlotte’s Airbnb ‘party houses’” (Aug. 22) What’s it like to live next to short-term rental homes that host wild parties and are the settings for rap video filming? Ledger staff writer Lindsey Banks explored the frustrations of local residents who are tired of being kept up at night (and even having their cars peed on), and explained why Charlotte is doing nothing about it, while other cities are taking action.
➡️ “Historical Heavyweights: “The ‘King’ of Charlotte (before it was Charlotte)” (Sept. 10) Our popular “Historical Heavyweights” series by writer John Short introduced readers to big-name people from decades or even centuries ago who had fascinating stories that shaped Charlotte. Arataswa “King” Hagler was the chief of the Catawba tribe from 1750 to 1763, and he was a master diplomat whose negotiating prowess with white colonists helped shape the border between North and South Carolina.
➡️ “Pumping iron before puberty?” (Oct. 14) The Ledger was thrilled to bring on a part-time healthcare reporter, Michelle Crouch, this year as part of a partnership with North Carolina Health News. In this story, Michelle looked at the teen boys’ “muscle madness” and how their desire to bulk up has increased during the pandemic. She talked to doctors, psychologists and trainers about how to spot a problem in a weightlifting teen, and how they can exercise safely.
➡️ “After 56 years of marriage, they died 3 days apart” (Oct. 18, 🔒) This remarkable story by writer Ken Garfield in our weekly Ways of Life obituaries newsletter introduced us to Sue and Larry Breckenridge, who cherished each other through Alzheimer’s disease and melanoma and died within days of each other in late August. “As Sue’s body was being taken away, Larry kissed her goodbye, tapped her on the nose and told her, ‘I’ll see you soon,’” Garfield writes.
➡️ “CMS narrows list to 3 draft maps in south Charlotte school boundary shuffle” (Dec. 7, 🔒) Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is getting ready to open a much-needed new high school in south Charlotte in the fall of 2024, and the task of drawing new school boundaries is a major Charlotte education story. The Ledger is keeping close tabs and writing regularly on this issue that will affect some 10,000-plus students across the region — you can expect to see much more coverage as school leaders approach decision time in 2023.
End-of-the-year giving options🎁
We know this is the season when many people are looking to make end-of-year tax-deductible donations, so we’d like to point you toward two good resources for finding worthy causes to support.
“Our readers picks: favorite local charities”: One of our favorite Ledger traditions is our annual reader Charity Shout-out, where we invite our community of paying members to write in about their favorite charity. We publish the list on Giving Tuesday, and this year, members wrote in about 64 local charities.
Help boost our healthcare coverage: This year, The Ledger began a partnership with North Carolina Health News which allowed us to hire a part-time reporter to produce original healthcare reporting focused on Charlotte. Your tax-deductible donation will help us continue this work and grow our reporting on our city’s medical institutions and healthcare issues.
Thank you: Whether you’re new to The Ledger or have been a supporter of ours since the beginning, thank you for being part of our community of smart, informed Charlotteans.
We’re excited to dive into 2023 and see what stories make next year’s list. As always, we invite you to reach out to us with tips, story ideas and questions about interesting things you see from your slice of Charlotte. One of the key ingredients of the Ledger’s success is having readers who pass along interesting and helpful news tips — we couldn’t do what we do without you!
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Contributing photographer/videographer: Kevin Young, The 5 and 2 Project