If you're not on Twitter, you might not have heard the news that my longtime associate editor, Kelly Davis, and I are both leaving CityBeat. Kelly and I moved to San Diego together in 2002 from our sister paper, the Ventura County Reporter, to help launch CityBeat, and, independently, we each decided it was time to do something different.
Kelly, actually, will continue to do what she's currently focused on—first-class reporting on criminal-justice issues—but she'll be doing it on a freelance basis, eventually reaching readers from a statewide or national platform. For the time being, she'll also keep writing her "Cocktail Tales" column, which runs every three weeks, including this issue. Kelly's last day on staff will be March 3.
As for me, I've accepted a job as a communications specialist in Sacramento for state Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. I believe my desire to get into public policy stems largely from my visit to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2008, when I added a D.C. leg to a trip to a journalism conference in Philadelphia and spent a day with then- Congressmember Bob Filner (in happier times). Given the ugliness and dysfunction in the Capitol these days, this may sound funny, but I was inspired just by being there. And I've long admired Atkins, ever since she spearheaded—as a member of the San Diego City Council, one month after I arrived in town— the declaration of a state of emergency in housing affordability, which continues to this day.
I'll have more to say about Kelly in our March 4 issue, and I'll reflect more deeply on my time at CityBeat in our March 18 issue, which will be my last. For now, I want to make sure y'all know that our departure does not foretell CityBeat's demise.
I hadn't planned on writing this column, but several people privately asked me if Kelly and I leaving means the paper's a goner. Paul Krueger, a senior producer for NBC 7/39, asked me if NBC could report that the paper would not close. So, if friends and journalists are concerned about the publication's future, others might be, too. Let's put that talk to rest.
CityBeat isn't going anywhere, at least not in the foreseeable future. Kelly and I are leaving not because the ship's sinking—it's not—but because it's simply time for us to try new things. Kelly's one year at the Reporter and her nearly 13 years at CityBeat are the whole of her journalism experience. She'll benefit from a new perspective and working with new editors at varied outlets. I've been a journalist working for a weekly publication since I joined my college newspaper in the spring of 1991, bouncing from Chico to Point Reyes Station, back to Chico, down to Ventura and finally settling in San Diego. I'm incredibly proud of the impact that I've had in San Diego, but I've increasingly longed to be more directly involved in policy. It was time for a new challenge. It's as simple as that.
Suggesting that CityBeat's days must be numbered ignores all of the talented people who remain. Kinsee Morlan, for my money the queen of the San Diego art world, will soon take maternity leave, but she'll be back in June. Also not leaving are music editor Jeff Terich, staff writer Joshua Emerson Smith and web editor / columnist Ryan Bradford (whose book Horror Business came out this week, by the way—so buy a copy). The freelance columnists and contributors are staying, as are the folks who make up the backbone of the operation—the people who sell the ads that keep us in business and the production staff who assemble this beautiful beast.
I have hired an extremely promising investigative reporter, Carly Nairn, to take Kelly's seat in March. And the search for my replacement has begun (send a résumé and a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you've got what it takes).
Yes, CityBeat will be different; it has to be when the top two people in the masthead go. Kelly and I shaped the paper's direction and mission. However, my prediction is that, if anything, CityBeat will be in great shape after a transfusion of new blood starts coursing through its veins.