David Warner and I didn’t always get along at first.
When David joined the CL staff back in ‘04, I was a fairly established writer in the area, but not yet tempered by the highs and lows that only come with more years in journalism than I had under my belt at the time; in all honesty, I thought I was pretty hot shit. That attitude led to some unfortunate and unnecessary head-butting with the experienced editor trying to herd new cats in a new environment — one with his own vision of how an editorial staff, even an irreverent, fun-loving, occasionally dysfunctional editorial staff, should work.
Despite my commitment to resistance for the sake of resistance, I began to understand what he was trying to do: David wanted to make us a unit, a family, a little community that reflected the best of the creativity and support and values of the larger community we covered.
But it took leaving my full-time position at the paper, and experiencing how other gigs, industries, offices and companies work, for me to truly understand how important that is.
And how important it is to me.
When David offered me the managing/online editor position being vacated by the irrepressible Joe Bardi in early 2014, I’d already let him know — and not so subtly — that I wanted back in full-time. I’d been contributing for most of the time I’d been gone, and those continued relationships, emails and party invitations were more than enough to help me decide where I wanted to be.
Sometimes you’ve gotta leave home for a while to really appreciate it.
These last four years, I’ve reaped the benefits of what David built over the previous ten: an edit team — not a staff, but a team — that, in addition to being irreverent, fun-loving and occasionally dysfunctional, has been as dedicated to supporting one another as to its collective job.
(Our collective job is, to a large extent, serving you.)
Now, some of that team is gone, including David, long my friend and mentor. And, in the midst of sadness, I find myself with both an incredible opportunity and an unenviable burden. We’re going to have to not only continue to live up to the sky-high standard set under David’s watch, but surpass it. We’re going to have to do more with less, and do it better, and have fun with it in a way that keeps you as informed and entertained and infuriated as it always has. More, even.
But I feel like we — myself, A&E Editor Cathy Salustri, Food & Drink Editor Meaghan Habuda and Music Editor Ray Roa — have been well prepared for this by those who came before.
There will be some changes. You, as the readers we serve, may not always agree with or like them, but when have all of you ever liked everything we’ve ever done? We just hope you’ll give us the shot, and the readership, and the feedback we need to continue to make Creative Loafing such an integral part of Tampa Bay’s unique culture.
Because, with all due respect to our new parent company — a company I do believe wants to help make CL better than ever — we work for the paper.
Which means, in a way, we work for you.