Bryan Hanks: Reflections on the first year of Neuse News
Around 15 months ago, B.J. Murphy had a crazy idea: Let’s put together a team and bring local news back to Kinston.
I left the local paper in 2016 because of frustration with ownership. Although I missed the people I used to work alongside, I sure as heck didn’t miss what newspapers — including the local entity — had turned into: A shell of its former self. A newsroom that teemed with more than 20 employees in 2002 when I arrived in Kinston was sitting at around six when I left. Furthermore, I was being asked to make additional personnel cuts under the guise to our readers that “we’re actually bringing you more!”
It didn’t make sense then and it sure as heck still doesn’t make sense now as that newsroom has dwindled to even fewer employees.
So when B.J. hit me up with his idea of a hyper-local news website for Kinston, Lenoir County, Greene County and Jones County, I was intrigued. We got together some newsroom and journalism veterans, including Junious Smith III, Jon Dawson, Keith Spence, Michelle Taylor and Scott Cole and added new talent in Bud Hardy, Aleatha Thrower, Linda Whittington and others … and here we are today, exactly one year after the launch of Neuse News.
Over the past 365 days, we’ve started developing new writing talent in the form of Catherine Hardee and Kristy Bock. B.J. has brought in a local group of summer interns — Ethan Cahoon, Gracie Herring, Norma-Jean Miller, Parker Mitchell and Alita White — who are going to be amazing journalists and marketers if they continue in this field.
From Day 1, B.J. has committed himself to the edict that Neuse News is going to grow with local talent that we are going to develop in-house — and he’s never backed away from that idea.
He also wants to give you, dear reader, the column stylings of Reece Gardner, Mike Parker, Tammy Kelly, Jane Phillips and all the others you’ve become accustomed to, but with a twist — while they are the same columns you might see in print in other places, you get them for absolutely free at Neuse News.
And that’s the beauty of Neuse News — while our competition is part of a company that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, our little fledgling company has been built right here in Kinston and Lenoir County. Additionally, every employee of Neuse News lives right here in our coverage area.
Our publisher and owner — B.J. — grew up, went to school, married a former Miss Kinston-Lenoir County, built a family and continues to make his home right here.
The Neuse News editor — me — has lived in this community for nearly 17 years. When I went through the darkest period of my life in losing my wife in 2015, I had several opportunities to leave this area but I chose to live here because I love Kinston, Lenoir County, Jones County and Greene County. You are my family and I am very thankful for you.
My point is this: If the leadership, ownership and employees of your allegedly “local” news source don’t live in your readership area, just how “local” are they? Or do they just want to continue to take your subscription and advertising money and continue to send it to their corporate overlords in New York?
Neuse News only survives because of you, dear reader and because of our awesome advertisers. B.J. has never backed away from his original premise for NN: We are not going to charge folks for our content and those advertisers have helped make that mission a success.
It’s been an amazing first year for Neuse News — please check out a video on our Facebook page from B.J. that chronicles a lot of our successes (seen below); I promise you will enjoy it!
And thank you again for supporting this site; it’s only been a success because of you! Here’s to many more years of Neuse News.