Why I joined The Ledger

Here's who I am, and why I'm passionate about giving you local news in a fresh way. I'm thrilled you're reading us, and I'm asking for your support.

Last month, in the midst of a global pandemic, with three kids suddenly in need of homeschool guidance and the arrival of a new puppy at my house … I quit my job.

It had been a great job, really, one that gave me license to roam the city in search of stories for the Charlotte Observer.

But a new adventure was calling.

Or, to be more specific, The Charlotte Ledger and its founder, Tony Mecia, were calling.

Two weeks ago, I joined The Ledger as its managing editor, and I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to tell you how you can help us create something that is good for our city.

Tony and I worked together at the Observer’s Gaston bureau in the early 2000s, when we were adventurous, mission-inspired young reporters. I’d moved south from an enviable post at the Associated Press, covering the New York Statehouse and staffing the wire desk.

But I wanted to write for a community. To get to the crux of what mattered to people and give them the information and context to make sense of the world around them.

I arrived at the Observer, and suddenly, I was writing about people’s lives. My stories explained our governments, introduced readers to their neighbors and chronicled our growing region. When I wrote about people struggling, readers responded, giving everything from bicycles to bone marrow.

A new direction: As I grew as a writer, Charlotte’s media landscape was changing, too.

A little more than a year ago, Tony took a chance and hit “publish” on the first edition of The Charlotte Ledger, with the goal of doing something different: producing an innovative, original news source that centered on a community of people who care deeply about their region and want the news and analysis to understand it better.

And he has. He’s featured some of Charlotte’s most trusted veteran journalists as freelance writers. He’s shined light on areas in Charlotte and topics that most other local media ignore.

In this relatively short amount of time, you and thousands more have made The Ledger part of your regular news diet.

Tony and I are the same mission-inspired journalists that we were in 2000. Only now we are far more seasoned reporters, armed with the instincts, the contacts, the institutional knowledge and the confidence that we hope will earn and keep your trust.

Our sense of mission and our commitment to you is why we distribute via e-mail, which you can share with your friends and colleagues. It’s why half of our content is always available for free, even though it costs money to produce. And why in the last month, as the effects of the coronavirus intensified, The Ledger has stepped up its frequency and published almost every day. Trustworthy local news is critical, and we’ve been delivering it to you.

We didn’t want a business model where we depend on advertising from big companies for our revenue. Independent journalism requires the freedom to ask hard questions and speak honestly about powerful institutions.  

Our goal is to inform you, to deliver you smart news and analysis, to not waste your time with clickbait stories or excessive advertising. We want you to finish reading the Ledger and feel satisfied that you’re a well-informed citizen of Charlotte.

In exchange, I have a request for you: If you find value in us, support us.

For $9 per month, or $99 per year, you can help us grow The Ledger. We want you to have access to all of our content, at the instant that it’s published. We want you to be able to comment on stories. We want you to become a part of this growing community. You can read the details of the different subscription plans here.

The Ledger relies on subscriber support for almost all of its revenue. It’s a business model we feel is simple: It makes us responsible solely to our readers.

My second request is this: Tell your friends about us. If you enjoy reading The Ledger, chances are your friends will, too.

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And a final ask: Talk to us. Tell us what you see in The Ledger that you like, and what you don’t. Write to us about the types of stories you want told.

One of my favorite parts of the week, pre-coronavirus, was rising early on Friday mornings and running a school newspaper at my youngest daughter’s elementary school. I’ve done this for five years, and I start every session off with two questions:

What’s interesting to you? And what does your school community need to know?

Every time, like magic, hands shoot up, and ideas pour out — good ones, ones that are curious and insightful and informed by knowledge that only students who experience school from the inside could possibly know.

I think you know exactly how they feel. And when you see a story in your community, I hope you’ll reach out to me at cristina@cltledger.com.

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When I find a good story, I too can feel it in my bones. I can’t wait to deliver it to you.

It’s why I became a journalist. And now, it’s why I joined The Ledger.

Cristina Bolling
Managing editor, The Charlotte Ledger

The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

Archives available at https://charlotteledger.substack.com/archive.

On Twitter: @cltledger

Sponsorship information: email editor@cltledger.com.

Executive editorTony MeciaManaging editorCristina BollingContributing editor: Tim Whitmire; Reporting intern: David Griffith