Here's what happened in print, TV, digital, and social in 2019 that made our little corner of the country a more drama filled place to live.
1. The Observer embarrasses itself
Our hometown paper, the Charlotte Observer, spent 2019 consistently topping itself in poor decision making and plain bad luck.
The trouble started when Panthers beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue, famous for her hot take that racist jokes are funny but sexist jokes aren't, announced she'd be leaving the old fuddy duddy Observer for a role at The Athletic. This continued the Athletic's stellar track record for gets after nabbing Joe Person the year before, ensuring the Athletic is gonna have a strong streak of years before Deadspinning their entire staff in 2028.
Marcel Louis-Jacques headed to ESPN. Then, Charlotte Agenda hired Katie Peralta from the Observer to work on some of their non-soup related content. Then, the Observer inexplicably folded their digital-first Charlotte Five imprint into the unusable main Observer site. Lastly, the Observer announced the end of Saturday editions, signaling the early death rattle for this dinosaur.
2. Creative Loafing gets red-pilled
If you don't know what getting red-pilled means, first of all, I envy you. Secondly, to be red-pilled is to be radicalized by fringe-right politics, typically nationalist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and anti-feminist. Its origin comes from a Reddit community that compares becoming a whiny right-wing incel to taking the red pill Neo takes in The Matrix movies.
In late 2018, Creative Loafing Charlotte ended its print publication, fired its entire staff, and turned the keys over to Alex Womack and Mia Chamberlain.
Suddenly, the Creative Loafing feed started to get... weird. CL began retweeting far-right talking points that had nothing to do with Charlotte, sharing its editor's Gwyneth Paltrow level schmaltzy self-help nonsense, and publishing straight up press releases verbatim, even giving Press Release a byline on the website.
When Creative Loafing's former editors launched a new print publication called Queen City Nerve, the folks at Creative Loafing bragged on Twitter about dumping copies of the new paper in the trash.
The whole thing is a big yikes, and with an election cycle and an RNC coming up in 2020, I can't wait to see what Press Release and Creative Loafing will do next.
3. EatWorkPlay flies by night
EatWorkPlayCLT is considered to be one of the OG new media properties in Charlotte. At over 76K Instagram followers, owner Davon Bailey built a sizable digital empire.
That's why I didn't bat an eye when they launched an ambitious but ill-fated "Charlotte and the Chocolate Factory Gala." Some tickets cost as much as $2,000. So when the date started moving (November to March to February back to November then back to February), some eyebrows got raised.
In a stunning piece of journalism, Charlotte Magazine started asking around and it was revealed that several children's charities had not received promised donations from EWP benefits. Robbing rich millennials of money is one thing, but robbing kids is something else entirely. A claim on Instagram that the company had a "multi-million dollar acquisition offer" made the money troubles even more perplexing.
I'm going to make two bold predictions: 1) This mysterious acquisition deal doesn't pan out 2) EWP will continue to make a butt load of money on events and have a ton of loyal followers on Instagram, because people in Charlotte just can't help themselves.
4. FOX 46 Nick won't stop dancing
It's like some sick metaphor for gentrification. FOX 46's weatherman somehow knocked NBC's Brad Panovich off the iron throne of most annoying TV news guy in Charlotte when his Slide Like This challenge went viral in April. It made its way onto several influential youth-oriented urban Twitter accounts, such as World Star, where Gen Z made their first in a long life of horrible decisions by telling Nick he "killed it."
Since then, he's become known simply as the Dancing Weather Man, and no matter how much we all are sick of it, he just won't stop dancing. It's like that episode of Spongebob where Spongebob won't stop ripping his pants.
I'd point out some racial implications of the whole thing, but Nick doesn't see color.
Here's a challenge for Nick: accept the 15 minutes are up and move on.
Charlotte Observer hates Cam Newton so much
Brad Panovich flops on another snowpocalypse prediction
A bunch of people give Charlotte Agenda their money
Everyone and their mother launches a new Charlotte media platform (hey, that's me!)
A bunch of restaurants close and Charlotte media's food hype machine gives a Steve Urkel-esque "Did I do that?"