Hail and Farewell

July 3, 2012
by
2 mins read

The first story I wrote for Folio Weekly, in 1995, touched on crack cocaine, slavery, rural transvestites and the grim isolation of agricultural poverty. In an odd way, the story about migrant labor camps in Hastings was a rough guide to the issues that keep altweeklies alive: offbeat, sometimes uncomfortable stories that brush against the grain of acceptability while advocating for social justice.

Which is not to say that’s why people read altweeklies. Ask any person why they pick up Folio Weekly and (assuming they cop to it) they’re far more apt to say they do so for the arts and music listings, or the News of the Weird, or the “I Saw U” personal ads.

But the most rewarding and consistent pattern I’ve witnessed during my Folio Weekly tenure (which officially ended June 30) is the willingness of once-disinterested readers — even former haters — to circle back for a second look. More times than I can count over the past 17 years, someone who has either been or felt skewered by this publication has called at some later point and asked for help with a story.

“I don’t always agree with what you guys write,” the caller will begin. “But you are the only ones willing to touch this.”

That reputation for telling stories that the mainstream media has under-reported or ignored has helped carry Folio Weekly through a devastating time for subscription periodicals and daily papers, and an economic downturn felt by everyone. Though we are by no means immune to either, the weekly today has more readers and more reach than it ever has, and is a far more established part of the local media landscape. It also feels more valuable in an environment driven by partisan shoutfests that pass for “dialogue” and soundbites that pass for news.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t great news outlets out there. My decision to take a job heading up First Coast News’ investigative unit is rooted in the belief that I can do important reporting inside a larger company — even one that appears on the stock ticker. But I will keenly miss the altweekly world, and continue to believe its mission is both a positive influence on the region and a necessary corrective for other news outlets.

Folio Weekly’s new editor, Denise Reagan, comes to the job with deep Jacksonville roots, decades of newspaper experience and a surname that those familiar with the city’s political and journalistic scene will recognize. More than that, she brings a passion for reporting that elevates and improves the community, and a strong desire to make a difference. The staff and ownership of Folio Weekly have great confidence in Denise, and we all look forward to the paper’s evolution under her leadership.

It’s an exciting time in the news business, and while it’s generated a lot of casualties, it’s also created some great opportunities. Folio Weekly is well poised for the challenge ahead. I’m grateful to have been a part of its past.

Anne Schind

Schindler.anne@gmail.c

Twitter @schindy

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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