Up Front: January 2011

Time, after time

So the crystal ball is as cloudy as ever,” the story concluded, referring to the future of this magazine. “Nobody can predict what it will look like in another 15 years, which go-go executive it will send into a towering rage, whether the Mover and Shaker of the Year in 2011 will be the chairman of Intergalactic Time Travel Ltd., whether subscribers will read about her off a computer screen or just close their eyes and hear words and get living holographic images through an instantaneous cybernetic mind link — or, indeed, if either the magazine or any of the people reading it at this every moment will be around at all.”

So wrote Wayne King, the longtime New York Timesman and director of Wake Forest University’s journalism program, in his account of BNC formative years that appeared in our 15th-anniversary issue (October 1996). Though some of the technology he mentions might seem far-fetched even today (and which, I’m sure, he put forward tongue tucked firmly in cheek), the point he was making holds true today. Even more so.

Business North Carolina is 15 years old this month,” King began his story, “and that is a remarkable achievement. Magazines have a terrible mortality rate. Only one in 10 survive more than five years, and many, many die as infants, gone from the scene before the typical toddler utters his first word, victims of every ailment from initial capital malnutrition to the caprices of ever-fickle reader taste.”

That we’re still around to celebrate our 30th anniversary is even more remarkable, considering that which once nurtured BNC — “an exploding state and regional economy so vola- tile and kaleidoscopic that even the optimistic founders of the magazine underestimated it” — might now seem to many like a brief golden age that flickered, then faded. But a quarter-century of working for this magazine — my own anniversary fell Dec. 23 — and a lifetime of studying Tar Heel history have taught me that few things ever have come easy for North Carolinians. We are people who have, time and again, had to strive against great odds to succeed. We’ve seen worse yet still persevered.

So, as we proceed through 2011, we won’t use this anniversary as an excuse to wallow in nostalgia but as an opportunity to peer into what lies ahead. And we’ll do it with the same kind of insightful, in-depth journalism that has carried us through three eventful decades and that we plan to provide you far into the future — even if it’s via those holographic images and that mind link.