Lunchline comes to an end

On top, the first print ad that ever ran for Lunchline in the Weekend section of The Washington Post in Nov. 2010. Below, one of the ads that ran in Express for the newsletter in Jan. 2011.
On top, the first print ad that ever ran for Lunchline in the Weekend section of The Washington Post in Nov. 2010. Below, one of the ads that ran in Express for the newsletter in Jan. 2011.

Alright kiddos, let’s get right to it. Here’s the big announcement: Lunchline is ending, and this is the last newsletter. Believe it or not, it will have been nearly four years since this ride started, and it’s time for it to come to a close. So, let’s look back.

Four years ago, as I prepared to go on a two-week staycation, planned during Snowmaggedon, I got a phone call from one of The Post’s Local desk editors, Vanessa Williams (now editor of our She the People blog). She told me that she had an idea for a newsletter. She wanted it to be younger, fresher and, plainly, cooler than many of the ones The Post already had. She thought I’d be a good fit. We knew each other because I often interacted with her doing my job as local news editor at Express. I spent the next two weeks watching soccer all day and crafting the idea.

For months that summer after the World Cup ended, I wrote a newsletter each day, and she edited them, looking to find the tone that worked. It finally launched the day after Election Day, 2010. Charles Balazs was instrumental, as well. Coming up with the name was difficult, and actually involved more meetings and e-mails then I care to admit. Then, one day, in a meeting with Charles and Vanessa, she said, “I care what the name is, just something that grabs your eye when you’re waiting on the lunch line.” I immediately knew that was it.

The format you’ve read this whole time is one that I basically just came up with from the jump. For the most part, I’d try to cover D.C., Maryland and Virginia when possible, then add a more fun item and a sports item. Extra Bites was effectively something to make sure that if The Post stories didn’t catch people, those other items would that day.

Without Vanessa, I would not have gotten to realize this idea and get in touch directly with you, the readers. And without the blessing of my then-boss, editor of Express Dan Cacavarro, this would not have happened, either. He thought it was a great idea and a fun outlet. Some of you will remember Lunchline Live, a goofy video bit that I did from my desk in the Express newsroom for a while.

Over the years, this newsletter became almost my primary form of expression. As a full-time editor, all I really wrote was headlines, captions and other things. Finding my voice here gave me the confidence to really branch out to larger columns. In turn, that landed me where I am today.

Also, here’s a shoutout to editor Gene Fynes and everyone else at what we call the Day Topic team, who took over editing this badboy some time back, and dealt with me filing at all sorts of random times. Without them, this sure wouldn’t have happened, either.

I’ve done my best to share my life, fun times, sometimes low times and overall zeal for life with everyone, and the feedback and experience has been beyond fulfilling. To this day, I still get e-mails from people telling me they remember some location from my childhood I referred to, or that they were glad I’d informed them about something they otherwise didn’t know, and got to participate in. It might come as a surprise to some of you locally, but a sizeable amount of the 15K or so people who read this don’t even live in D.C. They just found it a great way to keep up with their old home.

Conversely, the amount of material I’ve been alerted to has been so plentiful that I couldn’t begin to thank everyone here. The interactions have been plentiful, and I’m grateful.

Why end now? Two reasons. For one, it just feels right. The media universe is very different from four years ago, and The Post has plenty of products that will fill the news void. Morning Mix and The Switchboard come to mind. Secondly, I want to work more on my own blog, Capital Citizen. Also, as a creative outlet, it simply isn’t what it used to be for me. Four years is a long time, but I couldn’t have been happier to do it. Lastly, it’s a holiday weekend, so after you read this, you’ll probably forget about me and go back to your more meaningful lives, ha.

That said, I’m not going anywhere. I just won’t be doing this anymore. I talk on the radio every day, an opportunity that WTOP program director Laurie Cantillo gave me that I also enjoy tremendously. So, please do tune in, as I’m on all work week during morning drive. I still have quite a few things to say, it turns out. You can find everything at www.wtop.com/clintonyates, and I’m on every Friday live at 10:40 a.m.

Also, I’ll be writing every day on my blog, something that I’ve been wanting to do since it launched. There will probably shorter items more frequently, but the weekly columns will still be there. In short, more me, just not straight to your inbox.

And of course, I’m still on Twitter.

Lastly, I’d just like to thank you, the readers for giving this a chance. At first, I was a bit nervous to just share with strangers random thoughts about the world, but with encouragement, pushback, respect and most importantly, loyalty, it’s been a tremendous job.

I’m getting a bit emotional writing this because as much as I know that it’s time to move on, it’s still weird to let go. There’s a distant chance that it returns at a date who knows when as who knows what, but I’m not going to promise something I won’t deliver. Right now, though, we must part.

So, thanks for all the e-mails, all the tweets, all the Facebook messages and phone calls. I’m sure going to miss you guys, and my family will, too. Have a happy holiday weekend, and as I always say, remember: Safety first!

Clinton Yates is a D.C. native and an online columnist. When he's not covering the city, pop culture or listening to music, he watches sports. A lot of them.
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