Volume 22, Number 53 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 14 - 20, 2010
Meet John Bayles
An open letter to the readers of the Downtown Express
My publisher asked me to write a little “blurb” about myself, so that should the occasion arise when you pass me on the street or see me at a meeting you can “wish me good luck.”
Those were his words, not mine. Though I’d like to think I don’t need luck, certainly I’m aware of the fact that I have giant, no, gigantic, no… ginormous (I know, not a real word) shoes to fill. Former Editor Josh Rogers is helping me during this “transition period” and I’m definitely grateful he has agreed to do so. Lower Manhattan, in my opinion, is quite possibly one of the, if not the most, important beats in the country. We have the redevelopment of Ground Zero, we have the good, the bad and the ugly of Wall Street, and we have wonderfully unique neighborhoods like Battery Park City and Tribeca. Needless to say, I was humbled and honored when my publisher officially offered me the position.
And Josh was here all along, covering Downtown and building relationships when I was still in high school, way down in Birmingham, Alabama. If I can only establish half of the rapport with residents, elected officials and business owners that Josh did, I’ll consider myself a success.
So yes, I let the secret out of the bag in the previous paragraph. I’m a southerner, but once you get to know me, you’ll find I probably break nearly every stereotype in the book. That’s neither here nor there, but being from down south, I believe will only assist me in my new role. Before I moved to New York I lived in New Orleans for four years, where the notion of community is held in incredibly high esteem. And the Downtown Express, at its heart, is a community newspaper.
Hurricane Katrina landed me in New York, not quite in the city, but in the Village of Sag Harbor where I spent three and a half years as a reporter and editor for the Sag Harbor Express, another community weekly.
Since moving to the city, I have been freelancing for both the Villager and the Downtown Express, while also working at a nonprofit in East Harlem. I leapt at the opportunity to apply for Josh’s position when I was told he would be leaving. I learned years ago what it feels like to sink your heart and your soul into a job – a feeling that unfortunately few people get to ever experience – and I was dying to feel that again. Two weeks in and it’s as if the feeling never left.
So that’s it. Feel free to “wish me luck” should we bump into one another at a Community Board meeting – but also, feel free to tell me what I’m doing wrong or what the paper is doing wrong or even suggest a story. I’m all ears and I am humbled to be your new editor.
Support our print edition advertisers!