About one year ago, I wrote my first editorial, for the inaugural issue of the North State Journal. Published on Feb. 28, 2016, it was titled “A New Statement for North Carolina.” In that piece, I spoke for the editorial board of North Carolina’s only statewide newspaper when I rolled out a vision for what the content of these two pages would look like each issue.
“(W)e want to give our readers the whole story when it comes to the major topics of the day, and let them share their ideas to improve our state and nation as well.
“Whether it is the viewpoint of our opinion staff, a guest commentary from an established leader, or letters from our readers, we promise to elevate the conversation by widening the views that drive the public policy and cultural debates of our time, whether the issue is business, policy, politics or basketball and barbecue.”
I don’t think I have written any editorials on barbeque or basketball. (I’m far too smart to take a firm stand on barbeque in this state, but I do have some pretty firm opinions on basketball. Specifically, I don’t think that a player falling out of bounds should be able to chuck the ball against an opposing player’s leg to allow his team to keep the ball. There’s no way that referees would allow that anywhere else on the court, why is that permissible at the boundary?)
Digression aside, I hope that we have begun to fulfill some of that original promise. I hope that, along with the other sections of the paper, we have begun to elevate the conversation in North Carolina.
I hear from many people who are pleased with the product we are becoming, and Publisher Neal Robbins tells me that he hears from plenty of folks along the same lines. That’s not all we hear, of course. From Murphy to Manteo and from left wing to right wing, we’ve also gotten called plenty of names in the past year so we must be doing something right.
There is also something else we got right: the business model. While we have had to continually adapt and alter the details of our business plan, the core proposition that by expanding the market statewide, there were enough interested readers to support a print newspaper has been confirmed. We owe much to our subscribers in that regard.
Thank you for taking a chance on a start-up publication with an ambitious mission. Thank you for telling us when we missed the mark and when we hit the bullseye. Please keep doing so. Please keep telling your friends who value high-quality journalism about the North State Journal. If there is one thing we’ve sacrificed in our first year in publication, it’s that we’ve amassed a modest-but-influential group of subscribers without spending much at all on marketing.
Instead, we have chosen to spend our resources on designers, photographers, and journalists in short, we have chosen to make the product the best it can be this year. And be assured that the first anniversary of the print product is just an artificial milestone. It’s gratifying to look back and gauge how far we have come in 52 weeks, but there is no chance that we will rest on our laurels. In fact, there may be more changes in Volume 2 than there were in Volume 1.
As this editorial page heads into our second year, we will continue to value results over intentions and recognize the responsibilities of a free press in a democratic society. We will continue to practice transparency by never publishing a piece without the author’s name prominently shown. And our fervent hope is that we will continue to enlighten, challenge, and entertain our readers in every issue.
On to year two.
Drew Elliot is a member of the North State Journal’s editorial board, separate from the news staff. Unlike other newspapers, the North State Journal does not publish unsigned editorials; the author or authors of every editorial, letter, op-ed, and column is prominently displayed. To submit a letter or op-ed, see our submission guidelines.