As the newest editor of Folio Weekly Magazine, I am honored, thrilled and a little bit terrified to be tasked with the sacred duty of editing Northeast Florida’s independent voice. Our regular readers will probably recognize my byline from the many articles it has appeared beneath on these very pages. For the rest of you: Trust that there are some public officials whose miniscule hearts are palpitating at the news that I have been selected to run this storied organization. As they should.
Alternative weeklies provide a much-needed reprieve from the choreographed moves performed at other media outlets, often serving as the lone voice of dissent from mainstream opinions based on talking points pushed down the public’s throats by dedicated professionals whose basic function in life is framing the narrative of the news in order to placate, cajole and manipulate. Independent alternative publications have the privilege of giving a giant middle finger to the talking points, of infuriating powerful people by speaking versions of the truth that aren’t approved by their media relations experts. That’s what we do.
We thoroughly cover the arts, track trends before anyone else has heard of them, and tell you about the most kick-ass things happening around the region. We also tell stories that nobody else can get away with telling, stories that shadowy figures with deep pockets and unbridled ambition don’t want you to hear.
But not today. Today, this week, is their one free pass from being slayed in this space with the weapon that will make them fire off a dozen sanitized emails and have 100 dirty conversations behind closed doors: the pen. No matter if you love us or hate us, the media’s best, most noble purpose is speaking truth to power. That’s why most of us do this job. Media professionals don’t get out of bed in the morning with a passion for writing about kitten parades, even if those furry little faces are so fuzzy-wuzzy lovable, and guaranteed to generate a shit-ton of clicks, likes and reposts. We are driven by an unquenchable thirst to discover and reveal the truth.
Now, a bit about me. (I promise this is the only time you will endure the news of Claire Goforth, editor of FWM.)
Six years ago, the devastating loss of my sister led me to one of those rare, edifying moments when you realize that you have complete ownership over the direction your life will take. Since the age of 8, I had told anyone who would listen that I was going to be a writer. Someday. Twenty years later, I realized that there is no such thing as someday. There is only today. So, determined but absolutely clueless, I decided to leave my legal career and start from scratch as a writer.
After that, the first publication that I managed to squeeze in a byline was this one, in a Backpage editorial about what happens to a social media profile when the user dies, inspired by the chilling experience of having Facebook suggest I “reconnect with” my sister several months after her death. In fact, the person who advised me that I could get my start as a writer by submitting a Backpage Editorial to this publication, a crucial piece of advice he gave over the phone to a complete stranger, advice that led me here, to this job, was our very own Arts & Entertainment Editor, Daniel A. Brown. He literally changed my life.
That’s why my first order of business is resurrecting Backpage Editorials. FWM isn’t just my voice, or our freelancers’, or Brown’s: It’s yours. You can mail them, email them or — though I urge you to choose snail mail or email — Facebook message them. Entries of between 800 and 1,200 words about issues of local importance are preferred. I look forward to reading what you have to say.
Enough with the niceties. Let’s kick some ass.