On an overcast Saturday morning last August, Kevin Davis and I hunkered down at Ninth Street Bakery and hatched a plan. After a several years’ hiatus, he had recently restarted Bull City Rising, and, as a loyal reader of the blog, I was eager to chat with him about it.
And, personally, I was still stinging from a one-two punch: The Wednesday prior, I had been abruptly “let go” from the INDY after nine years, eight of them as editor. My husband had been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer and was undergoing radiation, which would not save his life, but hopefully prolong it.
I had long considered BCR the INDY’s main competitor for Durham readers. BCR was smart, informed, analytical. Influential people read BCR. Kevin had great sources. He broke stories. Sometimes BCR beat the INDY. And I did not like getting beat.
What would Kevin think about my joining BCR? Perhaps he would be game. In 2010, we had successfully co-moderated a congressional candidate forum between incumbent Democrat David Price and B.J. Lawson a Republican with Libertarian leanings. (Successful meaning the questions were thoughtful, the room was packed, and the police did not have to intervene. Democracy was served.)
Fortunately, Kevin said yes. And over the next 11 months, he and I have worked together to again make BCR a go-to source for deeply reported, well-written news. In addition to the civic responsibility of election coverage, BCR often achieved what every respectable journalist wants: positive change.
Our reporting about the Durham Co-op allowed rank-and-file workers to have a seat on the board of directors, a right that had been in jeopardy under proposed by-laws. BCR called out the Durham Housing Authority when it misinformed Section 8 voucher holders about where they could live. Stories about Black Wall Street Plaza alerted people to the importance of preserving the city’s last piece of prime green space downtown. Consistent coverage of development and affordable housing kept the issue in front of the public.
Sometimes Kevin and I disagreed, and one of us would write a counterpoint. Exhibit A being the funding disparity between The Art of Cool and Moogfest. Each of us was glad to have the push-back; it made our respective reporting sharper. (Our approaches to news were different as well; we used to joke that Kevin is Google satellite view and I’m Google street view.)
And here we are, 11 months later, and I must leave BCR. On Monday, I start a new job as an environmental investigative reporter at NC Policy Watch, a state-wide journalism outlet that I’ve loved and respected for many years. My husband, thankfully, after several failed treatments, is responding to chemotherapy. He’s still alive and has a decent quality of life.
Writing for Kevin and BCR has been one of the most rewarding journalistic experiences of my career. I had creative license, the freedom to pursue any story, and the opportunity to continue reporting on the city that I love.
BCR will continue under Kevin’s leadership. I’ll be a loyal reader. I hope you will be, too.