It was a momentous occasion last deadline, when City Weekly publisher John Saltas called a mandatory impromptu meeting. The whole staff congregated in the meeting room, Saltas spoke about the paper's storied history and recalled all past editors one by one, leading up to "... and now, Enrique." Smiles erupted, backs were patted and ouzo flowed like manna.
Prior to my arrival in Salt Lake City, I earned my stripes at the Santa Fe Reporter, where I worked for close to four years, and San Diego CityBeat, where I was at for nearly five. Along the way, I picked up a few awards, as well as fellowships at the Medill School of Journalism and USC's Annenberg School. I also managed to perfect the art of boomerang story pitching, stretch my freelance pennies in an unreal fashion and keep my head held high when I was passed up for promotions ad nauseam. More than anything though, I learned to love the alt-journalism industry, its people, its quirks.
This paper, and most others like it, are put together by a slim staff of some of the most dedicated individuals you'll ever share a war-torn commercial-grade carpeted room with. Folks who have missed anniversaries, birthdays and many other family functions, but never a deadline. People who hold our industry's core values true and will continue to do so from their cold, ink-stained hands. I consider myself lucky to be around them.
Here at City Weekly we're a scrappy bunch. With limited resources, we take on the big boys and go head-to-head with other operations that in volume, shadow us. Still, we manage to shine. Just last month, staffers Colby Frazier and Stephen Dark took home top honors in the Best Newspaper Reporter category, securing first and second prize respectively in the Society of Professional Journalists' Utah Headliners contest. The class we fall under, Division A, is also host to the two dailies in town. With the air in our lungs, a sometimes spotty internet connection, dubious nutritional intake (there's a two-week-old birthday cake in the breakroom that's starting to look mighty fine at noon on Tuesday) and a prayer or two, we manage to day in/week out put together the content for these pages.
It's a joint effort that wouldn't be possible without the stellar company editorial has across all of the other departments. From our staunch interns to our route drivers; account executives to our art department; members of our freelance stable to our street team. Ultimately, however, this product is for you. If you've been a supporter since the beginning, I thank you. If somewhere along the way we lost you, I hope you'll give us a second chance to win you back. If you only pick us up for the horoscopes, may your days be mercury in retrograde free.
I took the job of managing editor in December of last year and Salt Lake City greeted me in her icy embrace. I'd visited the previous summer when the Association of Alternative Newsmedia held its annual conference here and like many in attendance, I was pleasantly surprised. There's a palpable under-the-radar vibrancy here. Something that warns that SLC is on the verge of something big. I don't have to tell you this, as you've been in on the secret this whole time. I distinctly remember when I was about to head home after four days of enlightenment and debauchery, gazing upon the downtown skyline, Wasatch Front in the background, and feeling an inordinate desire to come back. Little did I know what was in store.
This past weekend, the AAN conference dawned anew. This time in Austin, Texas, where again the cream of the progressive crop gathered to throw back a few, go over financials, editorial standards, innovation and the term du jour, programmatic. It was there that the owner of a paper like this one noticed I had painted toenails and referred to me as "a sick fuck." The jubilant counterpoint to that happened the following night, when I was frantically dancing with the publisher of Orlando Weekly amid Robyn, Gaga and Gaynor. In the midst of that, I stopped and reflected on the shooting in his hometown at a club not unlike the one we were at. "This is what it was like," I told him. "They were just dancing, having a good time."
Being at the helm of this paper, your paper, is not a responsibility I take lightly. It's the ultimate prize at the bottom of this Cracker Jack box almost a decade in the making. I promise to be a worthy steward. I also pledge to keep telling stories that matter, shine a light where bureaucratic darkness reigns and to not lose our sense of humor along the way.
In a market primarily—and given its diversity, mistakenly—known for being Mormon, Caucasian and straight, I'm happy to be none of those. Queers, the displaced, the downtrodden, the mocked, the trafficked and all the rest of you out there that have been systematically convinced that you don't matter: You have an ally in me. This I give you my word on. So what do you say? Let's face this new chapter together and ruffle some feathers along the way. Sick fucks, unite. CW
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