Up Front: January 2008

In with the new

This is being written five days short of the winter solstice with New Year’s Eve only a fortnight hence. With both the season and calendar turning, it would seem an appropriate occasion to discuss some events both past and, shall we say, prescient. In looking ahead, I’m confining myself to that which I have foreknowledge, even though I’m well aware that opining on things one knows nothing about is one of the most cherished traditions of the journalist’s craft.

Here, amid this season of change, this magazine is changing. The changes began with the introduction of two opinion columns in our October issue. They accelerated last month with the resurrection of the revamped People section as Personnel File, along with the redesign of our departments. Art Director Manny Marquez’ campaign to inject more elements of 21st century graphic design into BNC have even crept into the longer stories, and more will be seen there and throughout the magazine in the months to come.

Nary a design change has been taken lightly. Though its look has changed only slightly since 1987, the magazine’s distinctive layout has set it apart and won dozens of design awards, the most recent only last summer when it received a bronze prize for best overall design from the Alliance of Area Business Publications. “This publication is clean, consistent and easy to navigate,” the judges wrote. “The pages all seem to reflect the seriousness and quality of the intelligent story content.”

But nothing stays, or should stay, the same forever. As next month’s Business Handbook issue — itself in a new format — will show, North Carolina’s economy is not what it was two decades ago or even what many were predicting just a few years ago. Trying to keep abreast of such rapid changes has caused us to rethink how we cover business and led to such innovations as The Daily Digest, our roundup of news stories from across the state on BusinessNC.com. It’s also the impetus behind the expanded Regional Reports we plan to inaugurate in the March issue of the print magazine.

But some things are not up for change. Our mission remains the same as it was when I wrote what follows in my first column as editor in the May 1987 issue: “For us to succeed, you must enjoy us. If we do our jobs right, Business North Carolina’s arrival each month will be eagerly awaited, like a visit from an old friend, one who keeps you informed, amused and, most of all, interested. We might even make you mad at times, but, as a friend, we promise to never bore you.

“One more thing: We won’t attempt to play the part of the ‘voice of business’ in North Carolina. That’s not our role, and, besides, it’s wrong to think that something as big, vibrant and complex as business in this state speaks with one voice. Rather than speak for business, these pages will echo what is actually happening out there in the workaday world, from the executive suite to the factory floor.”

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