Today we announced the end of publishing New Raleigh. About 7 years ago, I had the overwhelming urge to capture the momentum of the city. I felt like what was out there wasn’t capturing any of the truly unique things happening and they had no discrimination about what they wrote about. Our focus with New Raleigh was on being critical, discriminating and exposing the best and worst of the budding downtown. We did that 10 fold – it was wonderfully exhilarating . We honed our strategy and built an audience.
Almost a year before launch I thought of the name/found the domain name. And on Halloween night I pitched it to Mark Kuykendall and Chad Evans. I wanted to expose the poor development practices happening downtown and I wanted to highlight all of the cool things that weren’t part of Glenwood South. I remember very early- 6 months before we launched- I told local PR guru Allison Beale that I wanted to be the site that everyone in town begged to be on- and that being on it meant your event would be successful.
Early on Barden Culbreth and Jedidiah Gant joined up and together we really covered the meat of interesting culture in Raleigh. Later on we had many great editors like Vince Carmondy, Isaac Weeks, Khaner Walker, Tim Ayers, Stacey Wegner and Ladye Jane Vickers. Ultimately though- the core of our success came down to the super hard work of three key editors: Mark Kuykendall, Acree Graham and Jedidiah Gant. Their dedication is nicely reflected in our analytics- with soaring peaks that correlated directly with their focus and hard work.
Of course Jedidiah Gant is the site’s patron saint. His dedication carried the bulk of the work the last 3 years. A true talent for knowing everything going on and being friends with everyone in town- he was the picture of everything I would want in that editor-in-chief and without him the site would have been shut down years ago.
Well that all happened and we slowly became the defining events list for Raleigh. We also became the hub of architectural & development news, restaurant news and anything art and music. Where entrenched publications like the Indy really couldn’t get it together online, we excelled. Businesses would act totally ridiculous trying to get their stuff on the site. Many people acted so friendly, but ultimately they just had something to promote. That was actually the only part of the site that I really regretted- that it became really tough to decipher who my local friends really were. With or without a developed business model this would have been a problem- it was never ads these folks wanted- they wanted editorial.
I think what you see is that New Raleigh grew from intrinsic motivation, it wasn’t suited for business models or arbitrary journalistic standards- it was an artistic expression- the gestalt of a city reborn and our experiences within it.