I hope there's a bright future for local journalism

Old sources of information are struggling. But new ones are emerging to fill the void. You can help pave the path to the future.

A note to Ledger readers from our reporting intern, Queens University of Charlotte student David Griffith:

I remember I was in high school having that talk teenagers have when they’re thinking about life beyond high school.

My friend had just asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a journalist,” I said, beaming.

And I remember my friend just started laughing.

That was what I wanted to do with my life? He couldn’t believe it. Didn’t I know journalism was a joke?

So, yeah, I faced ridicule for my career path from day one.

There was a reason for that ridicule. The news isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago, when I would spread out the Charlotte Observer and check NBA scores while I waited for the bus. Social media exploded, and money that once flowed to newspapers started going to Google and Facebook instead. Journalism started to wither.

Even though it has become unprofitable for newspapers to show up every morning at your front door, the news doesn’t go away. In fact, in the age of instant information online coming from many different sources, professional journalism is more important than ever.

Somebody has to be here to tell the story of their community, to tell sometimes-painful truths and to be the voice of the voiceless. As newspapers die out, newer publications are stepping in to fill the void. Publications like The Charlotte Ledger.

I joined The Ledger to contribute toward making a difference. Well, also because my school requires internship credits to graduate, but that isn’t as marketable a reason. I’m sure from an outsider’s perspective it was just another name in the byline occasionally, but it was much more significant than that for me.

I came aboard part-time in March, right when the pandemic was shutting down the country. Businesses were closing and laying off employees. Nobody was hiring. Why would a publication take a chance on a college student with little experience at a time like this?

This was the first sign, to me, that The Charlotte Ledger is not your typical publication. Its editors, Tony Mecia and Cristina Bolling, genuinely care about giving readers a product that they can enjoy, and one that will tell the stories of the Charlotte community. Four days a week, sometimes more, they put out the highest quality product they can.

I’ve learned a lot in the months since. My first attempt at reporting an article led to me getting run out of a nursing home by a very profanity-laden security guard. As Covid had just started to arrive in North Carolina, my goal was to describe the scene where the most at-risk population lived. I probably should have realized that just showing up to where the most vulnerable were living during the onset of a pandemic wouldn’t exactly go over well. (Drawing on one of The Ledger’s contacts, I later reached an 85-year-old resident by phone, and as everybody else in Charlotte cleaned out grocery store shelves, she described the surprisingly calm scene for our readers — one of the first such articles in the Charlotte area.)

Tony and Cristina have mentored me and honed my reporting and writing since then, showing me the ins and outs of how they are able to find and reach out to sources and land interviews, and how to best format my writing so you guys, the readers, enjoy it. Using their teachings, I was able to produce my summer series: Beloved Businesses, which describes how well-known Charlotte businesses — from the McNinch House to Park Road Books to The Charlotte Post — are adapting during the pandemic. It also helped me meet a number of amazing local shop and restaurant owners throughout the city.

This work, both mine and the Ledger’s as a whole, doesn’t come free. News and information are important facets of any strong community, and publications like The Ledger are essential for providing them. But we can’t do it alone.

Yes, this is the part of the letter where I have to ask for your help. It’s cliché, I know, but I was hoping you would consider subscribing to The Ledger. It costs less than most streaming subscriptions, and we hope we have shown you the return is well worth it: High-quality newsletters delivered right to your inbox. All the information you need in one screen. Fair, unbiased local reporting.

So, what do you say? Journalism is rapidly shifting, but it’s as essential to our livelihoods as ever. We want to continue providing you with the news you deserve, and we hope you will consider subscribing so we can do just that.

Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David Griffith

Journalism student at Queens University of Charlotte

Reporting Intern for The Charlotte Ledger

Get 14 day free trial

For a few more days, The Ledger is offering a 14-day free trial. Sign up for our paid version, at $9/month or $99/year, and receive the full Wednesday and Friday editions. And as David mentioned, you’d be helping build a durable, future-oriented source of smart and reliable information in Charlotte. You can cancel within 14 days at no charge. If you have been thinking about subscribing, why not check it out?


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Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN AdvisoryReporting intern: David Griffith