Dec. 22 2015 03:05 PM

Reflections on joining the CityBeat squad

I was reacquainted with the agony and the ecstasy of print publishing when I became editor of San Diego CityBeat nearly nine months ago. Now as my first calendar year here winds up I'll take a moment to reflect.

CityBeat isn't my first rodeo. I've helmed more than my share of publications and websites around town. There's an affecting thing about being a free agent who moves from one set of pages to the next. It's been my experience that you almost instantaneously begin to see the world framed through the fan base of your current employer.

Yeah, you drink the Kool-Aid.

Ever worked on two sides of competitive markets? One day you're an editor at glossy San Diego Magazine. Everywhere you go people mention how much they love your content and how you've got the greatest collection of printed material outside of Vanity Fair. Kiss, kiss. Years later you're the editor of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. Now you're circulating (literally and figuratively) in slightly different circles. And a new set of people are drooling over your content and comparing you to a regional Architectural Digest (though those people are usually slurring their words and holding cocktails).

The point is that every publication has its niche and usually is connected with a diehard readership. The same goes for CityBeat. The difference being CityBeat devotees speak with unflinching, unfiltered fervor. Yes, we get love letters from readers. But we're just as likely to get hate screeds. If your skin isn't thick just the roar of this crowd will melt you.

My hiring was the first-ever editorship change at this nearly 15-year-old alt-weekly. Would I wreck things? Pulses raced. For me, it was like being on an old-time steam train, opening an unknown door and discovering the boiler room. Nine months later, my eyebrows have grown back.

Of course there's been some change. Some staff has moved on and some new voices are in the paper. Our covers look different. We'll continue to evolve in our aesthetics as well as content. But we won't move from being a progressive voice of social justice, and we'll continue to provide the most extensive coverage of local music, arts and food. Period.

There is a talented, creative and passionate editorial team working here. Yes, Ed Decker is still telling his Sordid Tales. Aaryn Belfer continues to do it Backward And In High Heels. And you should make a point of reading Ryan Bradford's columns because Well, That Was Awkward is going to become a catchphrase.

I love telling the story of how art director Carolyn Ramos cold called at our North Park office and dropped off her resume. That resume was a brilliant, eight-page reproduction of our paper—with a cool cover and her own illustrations designed around her cover letter and job history. This out-of-the-box application was handed to me and I asked if the designer was still here. She'd just left. I ran out the front door and down University Avenue to catch her. She was, indeed, a great catch.

There's not enough room to thank every one of our writers—staff and freelance—with a personal message. They've all offered their support to the cause of continuing the great tradition built when CityBeat was born.

This little-alt-weekly-that-could is a rare and eclectic bastion of journalism and opinion. We work blue, and that's something I had to get used to. We do call bullshit. But, truly, I appreciate everyone who has sent words of encouragement. And seriously, thanks for the doubt and the reservation. It didn't kill me, so I guess it made me a little stronger.

Happy holidays.


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