One sultry night last August, my husband and I arrived in Durham nearly comatose after traveling 1,600 miles in a CruiseAmerica RV. Yet, the move from Texas to North Carolina was a welcome one: We were relieved to see tall trees rather than scrub, to feel rain on our skin instead of relentless sun, to smell another scent besides dirt. Officially, we're Yankees—hailing from Indiana, often known as the northernmost southern state—but North Carolina feels like home.
And as newspapers across the country, their absentee owners ensconced in distant cities, sharply reduced their staffs and shrank from controversy, after 13 years in journalism, I felt fortunate to find a home at the locally owned, progressive Independent Weekly.
A year later, it's my third day as the new editor of the Independent, a challenge I don't take lightly. I am charged with leading a newspaper and Web site during a crucial era. Next year, save another Supreme Court intervention or more unconstitutional ballot box shenanigans—neither possibility can be ruled out—Americans will elect a new president. It will most likely be Year Five of the war in Iraq. Thousands more soldiers and Iraqi civilians will be dead.
Still, the Independent's job is to be intensely local. The Triangle is connected by geography and economy, but it is politically and culturally diverse. Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties could be different countries. And the Independent's task, whether in print or online, is to capture the political and cultural zeitgeist of the Triangle, and connect it to the larger world.
To achieve this, we have to accurately, fairly and exhaustively examine the issues—granted, through a progressive lens by talking to all sides while considering diversity in race, gender, age and political ideology. There can be no sacred cows. Only then can we present a well-argued, well-reported, critical account of the truth as best it can be known.
We can't do this work by trolling the Web at our desks or phoning it in. It is on the street level where we meet our readers face to face. It is on the ground where we find our best stories. It is in the common space where we earn—or lose—our credibility.
The Internet will continue to change the way we present these issues and converse with you, our readers. We want to hear from you. Tell us what you like and don't like. Let us know about the issues that are important to you. Lest this editorial sound grave, don't worry: We may take our work seriously, but not ourselves. In the same issue, you'll likely find us cheeky and serious, witty and grim. It'll be a wild ride. We hope you'll come along.
Editor Lisa Sorg can be reached at 286-1972 ext. 134, or firstname.lastname@example.org.