As we say goodbye to 2017, North Carolinians are completing a year of triumph and growth. We are also completing a year of self-inflicted wounds and disaster recovery.
We witnessed the Tar Heels of UNC Chapel Hill take home the 2017 NCAA basketball national championship, celebrated N.C. A&T State becoming the first MEAC football team to ever complete a perfect season after they won the Celebration Bowl, and saw the Durham Bulls win the Triple-A Baseball National Championship.
Our state also bloomed with economic growth spurred on by reforms that are being modeled across our nation. Despite the political quicksand of the bathroom bill — which led to the toppling of the Charlotte mayor who started the situation — N.C. finished 2017 ranked as the best business climate in the union and our tourism numbers continued to climb.
We also continued to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and — in typical N.C. fashion — we innovated in the face of adversity. One of the products of Hurricane Matthew was a community unity movement known as the Sunday Supper. A singular event in 2016 that was intended to give beleaguered people a moment at a common table to forget the devastation of the hurricane, the Sunday Supper is now a full-blown movement. As residents of Charlottesville, Va., sought reconciliation following racial tensions over Confederate monuments, the Sunday Supper brought that community together through food and fellowship. In 2018, I can’t wait to see how this new nonprofit organization continues to do good work through good food.
For North State Journal, 2017 has been a year of growth and growing pains. We have welcomed new staff members and said goodbye to others. We have now published more than 5,000 articles since our first issue that now seems distant, but was just in February 2016. As we grew, our journalists were recognized for their contributions to elevating the conversation in a new frontier for traditional media. The feedback we receive from both our readers and peers — the NSJ photo staff took home 21 awards from the N.C. Press Photographers Association, including staff of the year — further strengthens our commitment to quality journalism through writing, photography and design.
This newspaper also highlighted some of North Carolina’s best. On the pages of the North State Journal, we met farmers, soldiers, artists, educators and leaders – from Murphy to Manteo. Our sports section continued to journey beyond the box scores and maintained our commitment to cover college sports in a way that engages all of North Carolina. We were there for baseball to come back to Kinston and we captured the excitement of sled hockey for disabled athletes.
Our news team was creative and intrepid as they covered state government and politics during a time when the media is trusted less and politicians want to pick and chose which outlets they talk to. We witnessed first hand the need for quality journalists with fairness as their compass and our reporters wrote the news with truth and beauty.
As we turn the page on 2017, I look forward to following up on the stories we covered in 2017. I am rooting for NC State startup Reborn Clothing Co. to take off. I want to sample the honey from Bee Downtown, a beekeeping collaborator that we covered during the summer. I hope to see more articles about economic development and new jobs coming to our state.
Along the way, I am sure that all of the news in 2018 will not be positive. But I hope that we can cover the news in a way that readers can learn lessons from the facts and we have the opportunity to share the good news of compromises made and promises kept.