As Bowie says in his song “Changes,” it’s time to “turn and face the strange.”
Like most media outlets, LEO is going through some changes, and one of those is losing our fearless leader Scott Recker as he branches out into other things. This means that someone else has to step up into his place, and LEO’s owner Euclid Media Group asked me to do it.
Did I hesitate? Yes, because sometimes I just enjoy being in my lane and flying under the radar and maybe, this was too big a task considering all that this “little newspaper that could” has been through. We struggle, y’all.
We’re not above free coffee, food and the occasional lucrative partnerships… especially that last part.
But LEO, like Louisville, is kind of special to me.
It’s been there through many seasons of my adult life and always a place I would go to read or find something that I couldn’t find elsewhere. It was the paper of the weirdos, the underserved, the folks who didn’t have a voice elsewhere. From drag shows, to art, to poetry, to cosplay, to concerts, we found community in its pages. We also found our way to the local porn shops, but this is a no-judgement zone.
LEO covers things that other outlets do, but most of the time, we do it in a way that is very much our own. Love it or hate it, the sometimes sardonic and biting tone of LEO lets us have discussions other outlets can’t. We don’t have the pretense or the need for filters in the way that other outlets do. It’s something we’re fiercely protective of.
With that in mind — a job that lets me speak the truth, be in community and share space with my favorite people in the world, Louisvillians — I said yes to the job (cue panic attack).
We’re more than smart asses, though (insert diabolical grin). We’re also creators, taxpayers, homeowners, voters, parents, etc. We’re Louisvillians. The issues and people of our city matter a whole lot to us. We’re not outsiders talking without experience, here.
I’m aware that while we’ve been good at speaking truth to power for a long time, and that we are focused — most of the time — on punching up instead of down, the challenges we’ve faced as an outlet — ownership changes, staff changes and reduced budgets — have left us a bit battered and in a bit of an identity crisis.
What is LEO and who is LEO for?
Simple answer is that it’s in our name: Louisville Eccentric Observer. We’re here for Louisville.
Louisville’s landscape has changed since our founding in 1990. It’s more diverse (from the people to the food and experiences — the recent Asian Night Market comes to mind), still DIY, still leaning left (yes!), and nurtures a great art, theater, performance scene and finally decent nightlife.
LEO’s borders used to be really focused in the Highlands, Crescent Hill and Germantown — our original stomping grounds — but it’s just not possible for us to exist in the vacuum of those areas anymore and neglect all of the other fascinating parts of the city and the people who live there.
We know that we’ll never be all things to all Louisvillians, but we can be more adept at reaching the stories in areas that we haven’t before. We can be better at inviting more people to our “table” and having difficult conversations in a way that is productive and helps our city grow more equitable. We can also be more fun, more creative, more risk-taking.
Our print version is on a biweekly schedule (every other week), and we keep a daily digital schedule. We can do things that we couldn’t before and bring you LEO in a new way. I don’t think we’ve given ourselves enough room to breathe and enough time to remember that we’re part of Louisville, its past, and hopefully, its future.
It isn’t lost on me that my very existence in LEO is proof that Louisville has changed. LEO hasn’t had a lot of Black folks on staff. A few of us here and there, and never in the editor’s chair. It’s major that I have this opportunity, and it means that part of my responsibility is that I remember the past and make what is possible for the future better and fairer, if I can.
When I assume the role of editor-in-chief in January, I hope that LEO can step out of the shadow of what we’ve been and into the LEO that still has some breath to breathe, some stories to tell, and most of all, a community that cares about it, even if we make you angry. We really are here for you.
P.S. Look for the Letters to the Editor to return because I miss hearing your voices and knowing what’s on the mind of the city. Get your “caps” fingers ready. •
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