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We're expanding our team
Good news: Because of the support of Ledger readers, we're able to hire a full-time reporter. She starts today.
I’m overjoyed to share some exciting news with you: Today, Team Ledger is growing from two full-timers to three. (The other way to say it: We are increasing our staff by 50%!)
We’ve come far enough financially, with the support of a growing number of readers, to add another reporter — someone who, like me and managing editor Cristina Bolling and our small army of Charlotte’s best freelance writers — will work to uncover trends, break news and introduce you to interesting people in our midst.
Lindsey Banks, our bright and capable intern from last summer, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill last month, and we’re putting her to work, starting today.
Lindsey, on assignment for us last summer in NoDa, where she was researching an article about Charlotte walking tours — which included murals and a stop at the Smelly Cat Coffee House.
I realize that saying we’re hiring one person in a metro area with 1.3 million workers might not sound like any big deal. But it’s a big deal to me, and at the risk of sounding corny, it stirs a feeling of pride that I’m sure many fellow small business owners share — watching your idea for a business blossom into a legit company successful enough to hire people. And it’s important in journalism, especially in local journalism, to add reporters in a community in which scores of local journalists have been laid off, bought out or otherwise downsized over the last 15 years — even as Charlotte’s population has grown 30% in that time.
Our approach: The Ledger’s approach is to produce smart and high-quality work. We’re showing there’s a market for that kind of reader-focused journalism, free of clickbait, rehashed press releases, sensationalism and barrages of distracting ads that for some reason have become the norm in our industry. Readers tell us we’re filling a void.
Lindsey, like me and Cristina, will be on the hunt for original, smart, Charlotte-focused stories you can’t find elsewhere and that tell you interesting and important things about our community. In a small operation like ours, everyone pitches in as needed, but we envision Lindsey building sources among neighborhood leaders and small business owners. She’ll enlighten us about areas of Charlotte that otherwise receive little media attention, as well as how the city’s entrepreneurs are adapting to a changing economy. She will write articles of substance that meet The Ledger’s high standards.
Reader support is critical: When readers support our work, we can use those resources to create jobs like Lindsey’s — and hire people to tell you more about your community. Why not join us as a paying member and support that effort?
You might recall some of Lindsey’s work for us last year, when she split time between The Ledger and QCity Metro:
a look at how Charlotte dry cleaners were coping during the pandemic
and, what I think was her most memorable piece, her account of going clubbing uptown with her mom
Lindsey will also help us produce our newsletters. Cristina has worked hard since coming aboard two years ago and has done a phenomenal job helping us expand to 7 original newsletters a week, across 4 local subjects. We work with some of Charlotte’s best freelancers to get that done. But we’ve lacked the financial resources to increase the in-house staffing to keep pace with that increased workload.
Now, though, our number of paying members has grown to the point where we can afford to hire someone to help us, and we’re delighted. We’re a pay-as-you-go operation: The more we grow, the more we hire. We don’t spend money we don’t have.
Yes, we are still a small operation, with three full-timers. But that’s three more people than Charlotte would otherwise have working to address the troubling decline of local journalism. So we’re counting even a one-person expansion as a victory.
We’re building for the future, and hiring Lindsey is the most recent step and one we’re excited about.
We asked Lindsey to share a few words about why she chose journalism as a career and why she’s excited to work at The Ledger: :
If I learned anything last summer, it’s that the Charlotte area is full of stories just waiting to be told, and I’m looking forward to working with a publication that strives to tell those stories. Journalism offers not only an outlet to inform readers on the happenings of their community, but a way to hold leaders and government officials accountable as well as highlight those working to make the city a better place.
I’m looking forward to being back in Charlotte with The Ledger and bringing meaningful and informative stories right to your inbox.
If you’d like to drop her a note with ideas or just to say hi, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Tony Mecia, The Charlotte Ledger
P.S. Thank you to everyone who completed our recent reader survey. On the question of why people read The Ledger, a common theme was people saying they liked meaty articles with information they can’t find elsewhere, and that they appreciate our politically neutral tone. We hear that feedback, and we agree with it. We’re still digesting some of the other results and will share those at a later date.
P.P.S. I often include a photo of myself at the end of these letters, thinking it’s a nice personal touch. But I’m holding back today, because in response to the survey question “If there were one thing I could change about The Ledger, it would be ___,” one reader responded: “Less photos of Tony. Could do without the constant headshots.”