Hello again, Annapolis.
When I last talked with you, I was ending a 33-year career at The Capital. It was an emotional decision to go, but as I explained in my farewell column as editor, I was looking for new opportunities.
Now I’m back with Meanwhile, in Annapolis. It's a mix of reporting and commentary based on my long experience as a journalist covering this community. I hope it fills a need in the public debate, is fun and worth your time.
I’ve spent the last several months taking stock, catching up on sleep and chores around the house. I've taken a few trips, trying to adjust to the reality that I didn't have to keep engaged with the newspaper every day.
And, I’ve been sorting out what opportunities existed and where I might find them. I didn't really have a plan, other than telling people that I wasn't done yet — “not retired!” became a joke around my house.
I considered jobs in D.C., but the idea of that daily commute sucked all the joy out of even the most engaging opportunities. I looked at teaching, but it felt like giving up the best part of my work.
Freelance writing helped. Some success there made me think that, just maybe, I really didn't need to find another office somewhere. The future of offices is unclear anyway, and I’ve already worked in the best I could ever hope to find.
Maybe there was a way to do what I do best: listen to what people say about their ideas and concerns, then share what they say with others.
The idea kept leading me back to Annapolis, a city I’ve called home for most of my life. It’s where my wife and I met (Rams Head) raised our two children (Annapolis High School) and where I’ve developed a great group of friends (You know who you are). It is a city I understand, as well as anyone can comprehend a kaleidoscopic picture that is never the same twice. It is a city with a past, a future, and a story to tell.
Annapolis is my life. Journalism is how I live it.
Then Facebook, now called Meta, came calling. The people there have this idea of using their global social network to support local content through a subscription newsletter platform called Bulletin. It’s an effort to lift up individual voices, giving them a chance to cut through the noise of daily public life in the 21st century.
It’s important to say that Annapolis is not a news desert. The city has a daily newspaper, and regional print and broadcast media swoop in to cover big stories. It is home to blogs, podcasts, aggregators and has attracted interest from nonprofit newsrooms, both old and new.
I’m not trying to compete with them. Instead, I think the city needs something more.
Every one of us with a cell phone has the world in our hands, with access to every flavor of information conceivable. Honestly, it's too much. How do you make sense of it all?
Part of what good journalism does today is help do that. Annapolis needs perspective — the kind of storytelling that comes with taking the time to understand a community. That's what Meanwhile, in Annapolis will try to do.
My plan is to produce well-reported and thoughtful essays on greater Annapolis: its problems, victories and failures, culture, people, history, and in general, life in a small city by the Chesapeake Bay. Anything that touches on Annapolis is fair game.
Along the way, I plan to have a lot of conversations. I want to hear from readers about where they think I can take this venture. Because I have a platform, I know some people will tell me where to shove it. I find those conversations meaningful too, if less fun.
I also believe there is an audience for Annapolis stories beyond this city. Problems here mirror those in other parts of our country: crime, poverty, climate change, addiction, injustice, and despair. But Annapolis also has unique examples of success, generosity, creativity, kindness, and prosperity.
The search for solutions is universal. There's no reason it can't start here.
That explains the name. Meanwhile, in Annapolis — there's always something worth the conversation.
I’ll admit that I was dubious about working with Meta. There is a lot the company can do better, and it has a lot of questions to answer.
Love it or leave it, though, Facebook is ubiquitous. People who proclaim quitting it are just confirming that fact by being proactively contrarian.
There is no company better suited to focus attention on the problems in our society, a process that just might start with strengthening important ideas lost in the digital whirlwind.
Creating a platform for local voices is a step in the right direction, and I hope Bulletin will succeed.
As to how it works, well, we’re living in a subscription world. Picking out services and products you want while bypassing the clutter can be very satisfying. It can be ridiculous, too.
I’ll confess to subscribing to my dog’s food on Amazon, getting scheduled deliveries of what I can usually find at the neighborhood grocery. He appreciates it, I suppose.
For a marketplace of ideas, though, subscription makes sense. Pay for the content that brings you relevant, insightful, and challenging information. Not satisfied with what you’ve got? Make a change.
So yes, there will be a subscription to Meanwhile, in Annapolis. I think you’ll find it a good value at $4.99 a month, or $49.99 per year.
Hopefully, the payoff will be a deeper understanding of the world through hometown eyes — through the lens of Annapolis.