ColumnsEditor's Notes

Touching a Nerve

What a difference a month makes.

Just 35 days ago, I woke up thinking it was just another print day at the paper I had worked at for three and a half years. A little over a month later, I’m writing the first Editor’s Note for a brand new paper of which I am co-owner and editor-in-chief.

I’m not a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. I watch the news these days and can’t imagine a justifiable reason for any of it — no matter how mysterious. But I am a believer in blessings in disguise, and that’s what I think I’m dealing with now.

When my former boss walked into our office on Halloween and told me and my staff that we were all suddenly out of jobs, nobody involved could have imagined where we’d be sitting today. After a couple days of commiseration and not a little drinking, our team dusted ourselves and each other off and looked at what we had in front of us: an opportunity.

One reason for that was you, the community.

As we worked week after week to put out the best paper we could for our readers, it wasn’t often that we came up for air to read the room. Sure, we listened to criticism, some of which was well founded and deserved attention and some came from trolls. We also felt the love. Whether out covering news, checking out a show or hanging out at an art exhibit, we were constantly hearing from Charlotte creatives and patrons of the local arts how our publication had turned a corner recently and was more relevant than ever. That was always great to hear, but for the most part we kept our heads down and our ears to the street for the people, stories and ideas that needed our attention.

But nothing could have prepared us for the reaction from folks come Halloween when news broke that Creative Loafing Charlotte was shutting down its print publication, laying off the entire staff and relaunching as a digital media outlet in 2019. The outpouring of support from people on social media who had grown up reading the paper over the last 31 years, or had used it as a social lifeboat upon arriving in the Queen City more recently, was nothing short of overwhelming.

The reality began to sink in just 24 hours after the news broke, when local band The Business People made a Facebook post stating their support for the former CL staff, and their frustration with the closing of one of Charlotte’s most important publications for covering local culture.

In the post, The Business People expressed a desire to host some sort of concert or event to raise funds for me and my newly unemployed crew. They weren’t sure if the idea was even viable, but hundreds of people from all around Charlotte’s creative and business communities began replying to the post pledging their support.

Ryan Pitkin (far right) and fellow RIP Fest organizers on the night before the event. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

And that’s how RIP Fest was born. On Nov. 17, more than 20 local performers volunteered their time to support the former CL staff and our new venture, the Queen City Nerve. The entire show, held at five different venues throughout NoDa, went off without a hitch. The turnout cemented something that we had already begun to realize: the city was behind us, and it wanted to void left by CL’s closure filled.

And that’s what we intend to do with Q.C. Nerve. While we will be releasing bi-weekly print editions featuring longform stories like you would find in our old paper — and of course we wouldn’t imagine leaving out the crossword and horoscope — what we’re really excited about is our new website, Queen City Nerve.

By spreading out publication dates, we will be able to focus on more widespread coverage of Charlotte’s music, arts, food, news and culture online. We will include shorter pieces about upcoming events, video content, photo galleries, hell, even health and fitness tips to get you through the new year. We also want to amplify a diverse range of voices around the community, so if you have any story ideas for us — journalist or not — please feel free to reach out to me at rpitkin@qcnerve.com.

We also plan to stay present in the community not only through our publication but by hosting regular events that highlight local culture. From concerts like RIP Fest to art exhibits to culinary contests.

So whether you were an avid CL reader in the past, hated us with a passion or are unaware of us altogether, we hope you’ll give us a chance to show you what we’re about. Everyone involved in this paper feels a strong passion for highlighting local news and the creative culture, which is growing every day. It takes a diehard crew just to keep up, but we’re up for the challenge.

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