Yeah, I know how it looks, and you make some good points.
I’m young–only able to drink legally for a year, or six if you happen to be reading this in Louisiana–and inexperienced. A week ago I was making mixtapes for a pretty girl, which is admittedly a little closer to a normal summer job for me than an editorial position at a newspaper. And it’d be easier to hold down the fort at Big Lots or work the cash register at Piggly Wiggly than to embark on this particular mission.
I’m talented, but I’m aware of the downside that, historically speaking, the track record for whiz kids maturing into whiz men isn’t stellar. Herbert Hoover was the ultimate progressive, until he wasn’t; his logistical ability arguably saved the Allied war effort during the First World War once America intervened, and he was even nicknamed “Wonder Boy” by the infamously tight-lipped Calvin Coolidge. Then the wunderkind, bona fides and all, had the misfortune to wander beneath the plummeting Acme safe of the Depression. More recently, Cameron Crowe went from conning his way into being Rolling Stone’s youngest ever contributor at age sixteen to making Elizabethtown. The nation is still in recovery.
The point is, as a pretty accomplished student of history, I’ve got an idea of what I’m getting into as Weld’s new New Media editor. So while I could yammer on about my abilities, or about my experience as a writer, or about how I won’t be reenacting Ryan Howard’s career arc on The Office, going from temp to coked-up would-be Web 2.0 guru, I’ll tell you why I’m still approaching this opportunity with all these caveats in mind.
When I first joined Weld as an intern last summer I was sold on an idea more than anything else. A dream, even. The soul of this newspaper isn’t the promise to deliver more comprehensive, honest, and just plain better reportage of what this city wants to know than what it already has available. That’s its backbone, the serious work that keeps this engine humming. Weld’s soul is the mission to unite a bitterly divided city into a more harmonious whole, an e pluribus unum community brought together by a platform of shared interests and an openness to the prospect of understanding one another.
It’s very high-minded–it is a dream, after all–and it’s a notion that’s weathered quite a storm over the last few months. It’s something I believe in nevertheless, and it’s something I’ll dedicate myself to wholeheartedly until I’m convinced it’s given up the ghost. Weld and its website will flourish in my time here because of the wealth of competent and proven people working here already, because of a well-defined vision for the future, and because we can boast the best damned writing you’ll find in town. But we’ll endure because of that ennobling, emancipating dream at the heart of our mission.
If you still believe in that dream, and you’re with us, then we’re with you, Birmingham. We always have been.
Now it’s time to get to work.