And that's a wrap — another year for Memphis, for Tennessee, for the good ol' USA — and for the Memphis Flyer, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in February.
It has long been a tradition that the Contemporary Media staff takes a week off between Christmas and New Year. In order to do so, we produce an annual "double issue," in which our writers take a look back at the year just past in their columns and make some fearless prognostications for the coming year in the cover story. We're calling this one "2020 Vision." Har.
I'm very proud of the work we've done this year. Our serious news coverage included groundbreaking cover stories on the city's unfortunately booming eviction "business," the struggle to keep abortion safe and legal, the growing immigration crisis, the apartment-building explosion, warehouse workers' labor struggles, LGBTQ issues — and Memphis' best coverage of local politics.
We published some stellar environmental reporting in 2019, including stories on a controversial proposed "poop-line" north of the city, the continuing threats to the Memphis Sand Aquifer that supplies our drinking water, the nascent Climate Reality Project, criminal (in)justice and poverty, and the problems faced by the city due to a declining demand for recyclables.
We covered the city's media landscape with stories about the corporate ownership of Memphis television stations and the fragmentation of our other news sources, including the issues facing The Commercial Appeal and The Daily Memphian.
But it wasn't all serious. We had some fun last year. For example, we covered one of our readers' favorite subjects — food — like your mama's best tablecloth. In addition to our weekly food columns, we did cover stories on Memphis vs. Nashville barbecue (duh), the city's best pizza, and the 10 best hamburgers in town. And when it comes to adult beverages, well, if you read our Bar Report and Brews columns, plus our annual "Beer Bracket" contest for local craft brewers, you know where to go to get your drink on. We also introduced a CannaBeat column this year, which, er, highlights developments in the growing hemp and cannabis trade.
So yeah, food, booze, and pot. We got you covered.
In sports, the Flyer kept readers abreast of the Grizzlies, the Tigers, the Redbirds, and the new 901 FC soccer team. We even covered the short-lived AAF pro football enterprise, the Memphis Express. (Farewell, Mike Singletary. Alas, we hardly knew ye.)
I'm really proud of our commitment to the arts — the best in town, in my humble opinion — with weekly coverage of film (the only local movie reviews in town), music, theater, books, and local galleries.
And if you want progressive opinion pieces, well, we've got you covered there, as well, with our Letter from the Editor, reader-sourced Viewpoints, and Last Word columns.
Sometimes, we just wander off into weird places and do cover stories on, say, Mexican Wrestling, "working" pets, or a "vacation escape" to Summer Avenue. It's just what we do.
The end of 2019 also marks the end of a decade. It's been a tumultuous one for media, and for newspapers, in particular. If you'd told me in 2009 that the Flyer would have a larger print circulation than the daily Commercial Appeal in 10 years, I wouldn't have believed you. But it's true, mainly because the CA print run has declined precipitously while the Flyer has pretty much held steady. I don't mention this to gloat; we need the CA and The Daily Memphian and the Memphis Business Journal. The more reporters — and reporting — we have in Memphis, the better off we are as a city.
Like those publications, the Flyer is increasingly utilizing online coverage. In fact, if you're not going to memphisflyer.com every day, you're missing some of our best work. Also, like those other publications, we rely on our readers and advertisers to keep us going. We're particularly grateful to the hundreds of "Frequent Flyers," who've made a supportive pledge to help us continue our work. I hope you'll consider joining them in the coming year, if you haven't already.
But now, it's onward into a new year, one that should be interesting, to say the least. Hold onto your hats — and keep reading the Flyer.