When I founded NowKalamazoo in 2019, our mission was to fill the gap in community news coverage with truly local, independent, high-quality journalism.
Beginning with our award-winning coverage of the homelessness crisis, we’ve expanded into telling the stories of local entrepreneurs, restaurants and chefs, and other people and organizations whose actions are an inspiration to us all. We’ve taken up a role as a watchdog when it comes to misinformation, governance, and democracy and provided a holistic look beyond the headlines and police reports into the causes and consequences of gun violence. We’re also a founding member of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative’s Mental Wellness Project.
Thanks to donors and sponsors we’ve continued to grow. As founder and publisher, I’ve juggled many roles to get us to where we are today. It is time for NowKalamazoo’s newsroom to be led by a journalist who only has one job: to focus on finding and reporting the stories that are important to you.
I am immensely proud to introduce to you the first managing editor of NowKalamazoo, Kristie May. You can read her bio and that of our other journalists at the Team Page on our website. Below is an interview I conducted with her on your behalf.
Why did you become a journalist?
Reading and writing were my first passions. My late Grandma Rita, also my first best friend and a storyteller herself, constantly encouraged me to write and eagerly listened to my tales. I spent most of my time either buried in a book or composing short stories. However, I didn’t realize these were considered talents until age 10, when my essay won me a bike.
I attended high school in a small Alabama town. It wasn’t until two of my AP English teachers suggested a career in journalism that I realized I could combine my love for writing, creativity, and just plain nosiness. I went on to study broadcast journalism at University of Miami’s School of Communication, where I led a variety of UMTV productions. After graduating, I left sunny Miami for smokey Medford, Oregon where I worked as a senior producer for local TV station KTVL, leading coverage of the 2017 Oregon wildfires. Each day in the newsroom I was responsible for relaying life-or-death information, a role I never took lightly. This time reaffirmed my desire to inform and educate.
What brought you to Kalamazoo? And why did you stay here?
I drove for two days, out of the smoke and into the snow to a city I’d only heard mentioned on the TV show “Friends.”
I came to Kalamazoo for a job at News Channel 3, but I stayed for the people. A mistake I’ve witnessed many local journalists make is dissociating – not truly bonding with the community in which they work. Many journalists come to a community for a job and don’t plan to stay long. I believe to tell the necessary stories, journalists can’t be outsiders looking in. The best stories are told from the community’s perspective, both the people and their history.
Well, I got so involved that I found my husband and some lifelong friends and have begun planting roots here. Now, the city I once didn’t know existed is one that will forever be in my heart.
Why did you join NowKalamazoo?
They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. During my first year in a “real news job,” I averaged 60 hours a week – but who’s counting. While my career in journalism is fulfilling for many reasons, the lack of a work- life balance, a newsroom disconnected from the community, and inadequate resources were among many reasons I joined the Great Reshuffle in 2022.
Still, I felt like a failure after resigning my position as an Executive Producer in television. I hadn’t achieved enough. I felt as though I let down individuals whose voices I was meant to elevate. I come from a people who have been harmed in inconceivable ways by misinformation and the weaponizing of media. I’ve always aspired to be a voice of representation, of truth. NowKalamazoo is a chance to be just that: An opportunity to explore the root of issues and provide solution-based journalism, and the resources to seek the truth instead of rushed regurgitations of reports pushed by those with hidden agendas. At a time when misinformation is our biggest threat, I am honored to work with a team which prioritizes accuracy.
As managing editor, I look forward to leading NowKalamazoo as we expand our operations and provide even more journalism on behalf of our community.
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