August marks my 20th anniversary as editor of Atlanta Intown. I can’t believe it, either. What a strange, wonderful, sometimes nerve-racking trip it has been.
When then-publisher Joe Hiett called and asked if I was interested in the position, I jumped at it. I may have even wept. I was in career hell the summer of 2002, having been promoted to executive editor of a group of neighborhood newspapers on the southside of the city.
The position of executive editor came with more money and responsibility, but it also meant I was no longer writing or doing any actual editing. Instead, I drove endlessly to babysit some of the most dysfunctional reporters I’d ever met and take complaint calls. Not to mention the constant “change in direction” foisted upon us by the publisher, who wanted us to be more “feature oriented” one week and “hard news” the next. Exhausting doesn’t begin to describe it.
Atlanta Intown offered me a lifeline. Not only would I have the chance to write again, but also shape the coverage and design. This was my dream job, and it still is.
Along the way, I’ve made lifelong friends, worked with some of the most dedicated journalists, and met some incredibly interesting people.
Not long after I arrived, I went to Cindy Wilson’s house to get a tour of The B-52’s archive and watch her rehearse with her own band. Another time, Delta Burke of “Designing Women” fame kept me on the phone for nearly an hour – blowing off several other interviews – to talk about her favorite places in Atlanta.
Before I interviewed performance artist Laurie Anderson, I chatted with her husband Lou Reed. Forever foxy Pam Grier gave me one of the greatest hugs ever. I had the most delightful lunch with singer extraordinaire Candi Staton. President Jimmy Carter shook my hand and held it after seeing the old presidential campaign button on my jacket lapel.
I’ve also had the great honor to meet and share the stories of countless Atlantans who have also dedicated their time and efforts to our city – from politicians and non-profit leaders to artists and educators. They’ve kept me coming back to my desk –- whether on West Peachtree Street, Inman Park, or now at home – for two decades.
Of course, there have also been challenges. We weathered the 2008 financial crisis by being fiscally conservative and cutting expenses to the bone. We did the same during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we never missed a single issue in those 20 years – even when I was traveling in Europe and around the country publicizing my novels or poetry collections or when I was recovering from cancer (I got the one-year “all clear” last month. Woot!).
Intown has also grown and diversified over the years, too. With our “digital first” approach, news and features get to you in a timely manner via our website or social media. Our free newsletter, Rough Draft, has become a morning-must read for subscribers. And there’s still more growing to do and stories to tell.
Our loyal readers and advertisers continue to make this possible every month. Without y’all, we’d be nothing. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: It has been the honor and privilege of my life to be your editor. As you read this, I’m hard at work on my 240th issue.