Ain't it funny how things happen. When word spread, a month ago, that a big media company had bought our defiantly local weekly, one great anxiety, on the streets, on the blogs, and here in the office, was that the E.W. Scripps Co. would install one of its own as the new editor of Metro Pulse . And that's what happened.
That's the short story, the one that might appear in a badly edited wire-service version. But the hiring of Coury Turczyn comes with a pretty extensive footnote. Longtime readers of Metro Pulse will recognize the name. He was, by one title or another, a principal editor of Metro Pulse for most of the paper's first nine years.
This paper began life in the summer of 1991 as an entertainment-oriented biweekly aimed mainly at college kids. Coury, a former Whittle Communications editor and the paper's first experienced journalist, saw some greater potential in the rag. Thanks largely to Coury's efforts, the paper earned the imprimatur of membership in the Association of Alternative Newspapers. It won its first journalistic awards, from the AAN and the Society of Professional Journalists.
And it went weekly. To report and write for the paper, Coury participated in the hiring of some experienced journalists, including Barry Henderson, Jack Neely and Mike Gibson, who still work for Metro Pulse . It says something about Coury that all his former cohorts and underlings are pretty happy with this development.
Coury worked mostly behind the scenes, and his byline only occasionally appeared in the paper, tending to crop up at the top of wicked humor pieces and, especially, mercilessly tart movie reviews. (The Walrus was Paul, and the Movie Guru was Coury.) More than any other individual, he shaped the paper's appealingly snotty personality and irreverent course. But he was also a strong hand at the tiller, the only editor who was ever able to keep us on deadline.
He kept the job until 2000, when his wife, sometime Metro Pulse contributor Hillari Dowdle, was offered what appeared to be a dream job in another state. For them it was the beginning of several years of rambling over the country; they sojourned for a time in the deep South, for a time on the West Coast. During that time, Coury wrote articles for various magazines (including, too rarely, this one) and for Jupiter Entertainment's TV shows. He worked as a website producer for G4 cable network and CNET's music-resource service. And he started his own pop-culture web magazine.
Even on the sunny California coast, though, Coury and Hillari were never quite able to get Knoxville's red clay off their shoes. They returned in 2005, to raise their baby back home, and considering Metro Pulse already had an editor, Coury went to work as an editor for one of Scripps' websites, HGTV.
Meanwhile, late this past spring, our own beloved Girl Wonder Editor-in-Chief Leslie Wylie was offered an opportunity rarely encountered by editors-in-chief of alternative news weeklies, or, for that matter, by few masters in journalism candidatesâ"that is, to ride show horses for a living. It's a story never heard outside of Nancy Drew books, but the current editor of Metro Pulse is going to be traveling the country as a professional competitive equestrian. Leslie told the staff about two months ago that she'd have to step down as editor. We're grateful she will remain connected to the staff as a regular writer.
Management was still struggling with the dilemma of how to replace Leslie when it signed the Scripps bargain. Metro Pulse announced the opening of the top job, and a committee of Metro Pulse staffers and Scripps representatives reviewed an unexpectedly strong slate of well-qualified candidates. Who knew so many smart people wanted to be editor of Metro Pulse ? But all were at a sharp disadvantage when Coury threw his hat in the ring.
He'll start, officially, on August 13.
Don't expect the earth to move. The era that some people remember, probably romantically, as Metro Pulse's golden age was an era when Knoxville was blessed, or cursed, with a glut of journalists, stranded by the demise of magazine titan Whittle Communications, and also by the end of the daily Knoxville Journal . Metro Pulse's publisher was indulgent about maintaining a large editorial staff, which could sometimes seem like a WPA make-work program for job-bereft scribblers. Metro Pulse's â“golden ageâ” was thus an era when the business side of the paper sustained major annual losses. (During that time, we consoled ourselves with comparisons to the New Yorker , which in 80 years has rarely turned a profit; its publishers have always considered it a privilege to lose money so stylishly.) That state of things was understandably not acceptable to our last publisher, Brian Conley, and is not acceptable to our present one. We're still going to have to make a living, as we have for the last few years. But we couldn't imagine a better solution to this particular problem.
Welcome home, Coury.
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