It’s kind of a cliché that any media person who comes to town has his eyes fixed on the Rotunda and the Mountain first. Apart from the novelty and force of Jefferson’s attraction, there’s the instinct that you’ve got to understand how Monticello and the University work before you get the rest of the place.
You can mispronounce Staunton and Buena Vista without getting an earful, but you can’t call Grounds “campus” without your inbox filling up. Plus, who knows, the clips might be valuable somewhere down the line when you’re trying to escape the market and the only thing the editor on the other end of the line knows about Charlottesville is that it’s preppy and rich and isn’t UVA down there?
I remember sitting in the Dome Room next to Lisa Provence of The Hook at one of President Teresa Sullivan’s first press conferences in a year that would get much more dramatic for her later on, and I tried to follow along but I kept staring at the roof.
A few weeks later, I was writing a story on Tom Burford and found myself at the Heritage Harvest Festival rapping with a former C-VILLE freelancer who was doing some PR for Monticello. She said something very like, “Everyone’s worked for the C-VILLE at some point.” At the time it felt a bit like a dig, or at least a dismissal, like I showed up for the Dave Matthews show a decade late.
I’ll be handing the keys to the editorial department to Courteney Stuart at the end of the month, leaving the paper to pursue another job in the digital media landscape. A little less than three years later, I see that conversation on the West Lawn differently.
The best part of this job is the people you meet, like walking in the front door at Monticello and ending up shooting the breeze with Cinder Stanton, Peter Hatch, or Gabriele Rausse under a tree. Our paper and its companion magazines published the work of 50 freelance writers and photographers last month.
As this week’s feature attests, every part of the publishing world is in flux, but the people who make their living telling stories have hardly changed a bit. Thanks to all of the creatives who made it such a fun ride; it’s been a real pleasure being your editor.