My Last Day as Editor-in-Chief

Six years ago, I moved to Philadelphia to help transform a quarterly print publication called Next American City into a digital magazine with an international lens and a focus on smart, in-depth reporting.

The first longform feature I edited for Next City chronicled the end of America’s largest urban redevelopment program, a harbinger of funding cuts to come. Like so many stories I’ve worked on as an editor for Next City, the tale of California’s forsaken redevelopment agencies immersed me in the journey of cities like Oakland devastated by redlining, post-war industrial flight and urban renewal practices that put cars before human lives. It also introduced me to some of the people and organizations responding to these immense challenges, and finding better ways forward.

Our small team had a big goal: to drive a more impactful conversation about urban policy through our deep, solutions-oriented journalism.

Tomorrow is my last day as Next City’s editor-in-chief, and I am proud to say that we achieved our goal, and continue to do so every single day.

Among the last few longform stories I edited for Next City is a must-read essay about urban planning’s sexism problem, a profile of a Buffalo organization proving equitable development is possible and a data-driven investigation into redlining’s impact on Philadelphia. All of these stories have been read thousands of times. As a journalist working to affect change in cities, even more gratifying than the pageviews is the feedback I’ve heard from readers. These stories and the thousands of others living on Next City inspire them to take action in their cities.

That last story on my list, the one about Philadelphia, was co-published with WHYY, Philadelphia’s local NPR affiliate and my next stop as editor. Starting in the new year, I’ll be taking the lessons learned from covering cities globally and applying them in the city that has become my home, at WHYY’s PlanPhilly. That WHYY even employs a team of journalists to cover urban design and development stands testament to the movement that Next City has helped build. A movement that all of you are part of.

On Friday, I will leave the staff of Next City and join the network of members that make the organization’s work possible. Without the support of donating readers, the journalism I’ve been so honored to help produce can’t be sustained. If you aren’t already a member, I urge you to join me in supporting Next City with a donation today.

Ariella Cohen

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