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Eric Barnes

Eric Barnes is President & Executive Editor of The Daily Memphian.

From one Memphian to all the others: Welcome home

By Updated: September 18, 2018 5:34 PM CT

You’re reading the first issue of The Daily Memphian. This is no small thing. The people, the effort, the money and resources that had to come together to make this possible cannot be underestimated. But now we’re here.

Read our stories, share them with your friends, talk about them with your family. Disagree with what we write, throw your mouse at the wall in annoyance at a column, allow us to make you cry as you immerse yourself in a point of view you’ve never before considered. Let our journalists – via the photos we take, the videos we produce, the podcasts we publish, and the written words we form – show you parts of our city that you never knew existed.

Then, tomorrow, wake up and read us again.

That’s our ambition.

Like I said, this is no small thing.

For nearly 20 years, metro newspapers in this country have been steadily retracting. Cutting staff. Reducing content. Centralizing decision-making in regional and national headquarters far removed from the realities of the cities those metro papers attempt to cover.

It all made sense on a spreadsheet.

But it made no sense to readers. To cities. Or to Memphis.

And so what you’re reading right now is a response to this two decades of slow and progressive defeat.

And what you’re reading right now is arguably unprecedented in local journalism in this country. That’s not to say many very good upstart publications haven’t been launched in cities nationwide. They have. But overwhelmingly they’ve involved a small number of journalists. A limited footprint. A stated desire to carve out a niche.

There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

But Memphis didn’t want just a niche publication. Memphians weren’t satisfied with a limited number of journalists. Memphis wanted something more.

What that means is that The Daily Memphian is attempting to cover the entirety of our city. We’ve hired one of the largest newsrooms in the city, staffing it with journalists who’ve covered Memphis for many years or many decades.

And instead what you see today is only the beginning of what we’ll do.

In other words, we’re not remotely done. Soon we’ll be rolling out many new features, including:

  • Podcasts, covering politics, sports, food and dining, business, and more.
  • Obituaries, which will range from short notices written by the family and friends of those who have passed, to staff-written articles not only about people well-known to all Memphians, but also about those who, given the contributions they’ve made to this city, should have been well-known to everyone.
  • Guest columns, in order to give voice to a range of opinions on issues of importance to the people of Memphis.
  • Media partnerships, which will expand beyond our current relationships with the University of Memphis, WKNO, High Ground News and Chalkbeat to include not just more sources of local news, but more outlets for the local journalism we are producing.
  • National news, utilizing the Associated Press and their comprehensive coverage of everything from politics to sports to entertainment.
  • Many other features that, quite honestly, we’ve yet to fully define or even consider, not least of which because we’ve only just launched – and have only just begun to hear feedback from readers, subscribers, skeptics and those who don’t even know about our plans.

That last point brings up something I’ll never emphasize enough. The Daily Memphian will be an integral part of this community. That means I and others on the staff and the board will constantly be available to speak directly to you. We’ll hold public events. We’ll speak to your church groups, business associations, the civic enterprises in which you participate. Email me. I’ll find a time and date to come talk to your group not just about what it is we’re trying to do, but also about what it is you want – and don’t want – to read and hear and watch.

Let me also say that beyond the new features I mentioned above, we’re already working to expand access to the news that we produce. We’ll soon be free in libraries and other public buildings and spaces. But that’s not enough. We’ll make the site free to all teachers who want it. We’ll find other groups who need and deserve this sort of free access.

This is an essential goal of The Daily Memphian – to reach all Memphians who want to access to our quality content, while also building a financial model that sustains our content for decades to come.

A teacher told me recently that, while it was good she’d be able to read the site for free, that wasn’t enough. What about the parents of the kids I teach everyday, she asked me. Parents who can’t afford to subscribe to The Daily Memphian, but who want to read news about Memphis, who want to share those stories with their children. What about them?

I’ll be honest. I didn’t have an answer that she found adequate.

But I do know that we will, eventually, reach those parents and families.

For The Daily Memphian to be successful, we must find a way to reach everyone willing to read the stories we write.

But, like I said, this is no small thing.

Read us. Share our stories. Tell your family and friends.

And, tomorrow, do the same thing again.



<strong>Eric Barnes</strong>

Eric Barnes

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