Flashback to 1987: Xpress Publisher Jeff Fobes was gathering a group of volunteer activists to put together and publish Green Line, the monthly newspaper of the Western North Carolina Green party. For the first couple of years, if you wanted a seat at the fledgling publication’s table, you could have it — but you had to bring your own chair, Jeff recalls.
Over 30 years later, some of those early contributors’ castoff chairs still linger in Mountain Xpress’ office. But while the mismatched furniture and alternative-media attitude remain at the successor to Jeff’s scrappy first publication, Xpress now employs nearly as many journalists as the daily Citizen Times up the street.
Following the most recent Citizen Times layoffs of five editorial staffers announced Jan. 22, part of nationwide cuts by parent company Gannett Co., columnist and reporter John Boyle wrote on Twitter that the reductions whittled the Citizen Times newsroom’s strength to 13. That’s down from over 70 at the turn of the 21st century.