"Memphis magazine publisher Kenneth Neill somehow managed to convince the company's board members to invest in an idea he had: a free weekly tabloid that would be called the Memphis Flyer," editor Bruce VanWyngarden writes in an introduction to the paper's 20th anniversary issue. "The first issue hit the streets in February 1989." In another column, Neill explains why the paper didn't celebrate the actual anniversary back in February. "February 2009 did not seem a particularly good time for a 20-year celebration," he writes. "The economy was in the toilet, and our spirits weren't far behind."
"Thanks primarily to a rather sensationalistic story on WREG Channel 3 Wednesday night, John Branston's City Beat column from this week's Flyer seems to be generating some controversy," writes editor Bruce VanWyngarden. In the column, Branston asks who should be "the HNIC" of Memphis City Schools, a term meaning "head [N-word] in charge" that refers to the film Lean on Me. VanWyngarden writes that, as editor, he takes responsibility for the column and the phrase. "I apologize to those who were offended by the use of the term in John's column. It was not intended as a racial slur but as a cultural reference to a very real and important decision facing our school board," he writes. "Lost in the controversy is the fact that in his column Branston asks some very pointed and relevant questions of potential superintendent candidates -- questions we ought to be asking." Nevertheless, the one source the TV station has that is upset about the whole thing is still calling for Branston to be fired.
In a letter from the editor celebrating the milestone, Bruce VanWyngarden traces the history of the Flyer, from its February 1989 debut to this week's issue. VanWyngarden gives props to previous editors Tim Sampson and Dennis Freeland, as well as Flyer publisher and former AAN Board President Kenneth Neill, and the staffers who rarely get such recognition. "The people who do count are those who create your weekly Flyer -- the writers, editors, art directors, ad sales folks, and others who make this publication possible," he writes.