Fifteen years ago, City Paper photographerDarrow Montgomery photographed me sitting cross-legged on my bed in my apartment on Rhode Island Avenue NW. I was 23 at the time. For me it was one of the millions of moments that make up a life, and soon after it evaporated from my conscious memory.
But I remembered it just over three years ago when I got a job as managing editor of City Paper.
“Hey, remember when Darrow photographed you?” my husband asked. “What?” I replied.
Then he jogged my memory. At the time, back in 2004, my husband was my future husband, and he was writing an article for City Paper. It was about young people buying used mattresses because they couldn’t afford anything else, and I fit that description. He interviewed me for the story. Darrow took a photo. It appeared in print. I forgot.
But on my first day of work at City Paper, I asked Darrow about it. “Remember that photo?” He was taken aback, but he did remember, because he remembers every photo. For my part, I couldn’t escape the uncomfortable thought that the universe had this moment in store for me for more than a decade.
Nine months into my time here, at what would prove to be a very low moment in the financial history of City Paper, I became the editor and took the reins of a paper that was on the verge of collapse. City Paper went up for sale two months later, and over the course of the following three months, my colleagues and I watched other big-city alt weeklies tumble as we tried to find a new owner. D.C. entrepreneur and venture capitalist Mark Ein stepped in and saved the place from certain death.
Both as managing editor and editor, I’ve overseen tremendous investigative journalism, elegant features, and the rush of breaking news stories. I’m most proud of publishing sincere and careful stories about issues that touch hundreds of thousands of people. It’s been a joy to watch the journalists and editors here grow, choosing harder and more ambitious projects than they did the month or year before.
One of our greatest accomplishments has been launching a membership program, which represents an evolving relationship between City Paper and its readers. Today City Paper is working on a new website, and continuing to build up a sustainable business model to support the in-depth local news coverage we do.
City Paper is a place that wants to thrive and evolve. I believe in City Paper, past and future.
But that husband of mine? He works in New York now, as do many of my other family members, and it’s time for me to join them there. My last day will be Jan. 22.
If you’re the editor who is going to take over this vital alt weekly, apply here.