From the editor:
I’m not from Atlanta. Like so many residents, I’m a transplant, lured here by opportunity, staying here because I found it.
In 2013, I unexpectedly found opportunity in a side project I started, Decaturish.com. It started as a blog I created to showcase my writing so I could look for other job opportunities. I never expected it to actually become my job.
Three years later, I’m still gainfully self-employed. Atlanta – specifically Decatur and its neighbors – has kept me busy. But opportunity calls again, and it is in the form of the best idea Atlanta has had since the Olympics.
The Beltline, an ambitious public works project tying together 45 diverse neighborhoods, has the potential to unite Atlanta like nothing before it. Uniting people was one of the reasons I started Decaturish. I thought hyperlocal websites had gotten it wrong by creating geographic fences around their communities. Whether you live in the city of Decatur, or the Ish of greater Decatur, you should care about what happens to your neighbor, because it affects you whether you realize it or not.
And that’s the potential of the Beltline, a project that could tighten the bonds between neighbors by connecting their worlds. Today the Beltline is a darling of city and business leaders alike. But in order for it to fulfill its promise, it needs the careful scrutiny of a free and independent press. The Beltline’s board is a public entity that needs watching. Its neighborhoods are resources that need protection. The neighborhoods are full of people whose stories need telling.
I’m not here to tell you I’m the be all, end all of news on the Beltline. Other journalists and media organizations have tracked its progress well. But I think Atlanta Loop can add a strong, compelling voice to that discussion.
And it won’t just be me doing the talking. As with Decaturish, I will work with a crew of talented freelancers and will employ an Associate Editor at Atlanta Loop to help our site stay vibrant and relevant. All news organizations need a diversity of voices to keep the conversation going.
I started my career at a little paper in Anniston, Ala. called “The Anniston Star.” One of its storied publishers, Col. Harry Ayers, once said, “It is the duty of a newspaper to become the attorney for the most defenseless among its subscribers.” The paper is also a place where disparate voices can have a conversation, about shared values and shared challenges. These voices do not always agree, they don’t always listen to each other, but the discussion makes the paper a part of bettering the community it covers.
Col. Ayers’ message is one that has guided me throughout my career. I promise always to treat my employees with respect, to hold our public officials accountable and to make sure our readers, especially the ones who can’t fight for themselves, remain our No. 1 priority.
We’ll do that by telling your stories, letting you know what’s going on around your communities and, if we’re doing our jobs, annoying a few powerful people along the way.
This is the beginning of our discussion. Hopefully it will be a long and interesting one.
– Dan Whisenhunt, editor and publisher