Big news at Fresh Water Cleveland: Managing editor Lee Chilcote is stepping down to focus on his new startup organization Lit Cleveland and other writing projects. The publication is launching a search for a new managing editor. Current innovation editor Karin Connelly is now serving as interim managing editor. Below, Lee shares some reflections on five years of working for Fresh Water.
Five years ago, I started writing for a brand-new publication called Fresh Water Cleveland just as Northeast Ohio was emerging from the recession. No one knew who we were, but they were excited to get our newsletter in their email inboxes each week. Quickly, word spread that we were writing about the city in a new, different way.
Each week, we ran stories about feisty, game-changing startups; new community development projects, from greening vacant lots to chef-driven restaurants; and changes taking place in Cleveland, such as new apartments being built downtown and efforts to create more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.
The tweets and Facebook posts went viral. News media outlets in town were suddenly covering our stories. We couldn't scoop them on the big stuff, but when it came to covering grassroots entrepreneurs, we were often the first to write about them. People were reading. People were watching.
Now look how far Cleveland has come in the last five years. Not a month goes by that our city doesn't land on another Top 10 list. Getting so much outside attention is a sign we're doing something right.
A year ago, when I took over as editor, I prompted a shift in how Fresh Water was covering news. We love stories about the latest beer-and-tater-tot joint, of course, but that's not all there is. We began paying attention to different neighborhoods, switching up our coverage. We wanted to cover the nonprofit organization helping to put low-income folks to work as well as the next hipster pinball hall.
All along, we've done it with a wonderful team of writers and photographers, especially Erin O'Brien (development), Karin Connelly (innovation) and Bob Perkoski (photographer extraordinaire). Our publisher, Fran DiDonato, has been a particularly amazing partner.