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Hargro to leave Creative Loafing

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  Carlton Hargro

Carlton Hargro, editor-in-chief of Creative Loafing Charlotte for more than four years, is leaving the weekly tabloid next month to pursue other interests, he and the company’s publisher confirmed Friday.

Hargro, 40, said his last day would be August 31. His departure, he said, is voluntary.

“There is no kind of animosity on their part or my part,” he told Qcitymetro.com in an exclusive interview. “They wish me well and I wish the company well.”

Staffers at the alternative publication were notified of the impending change in a memo earlier this week.

Hargro said he plans to pursue “exciting opportunities in journalism” but declined to give specifics.

Wendy Goldstein, who was named associate publisher of Creative Loafing Charlotte in July 2010, said Hargro’s departure does not signal strategic change in the newsroom, where journalists produce content focusing on music, nightlife, entertainment and alternative lifestyles.

“Carlton has done a great job getting us to where we are today, and our goal is not to break any ties out there but to continue on the same path,” she said. “We’re not looking to step backwards in any of our areas of coverage.”

One initiative that gained momentum under Hargro that will continue, she said, is the newspaper’s emphasis on Internet publishing. The company will soon unveil a re-designed website, she said, possibly as early as week.

“That’s our future,” she said. “We need to grow with the audience. We need to change with what’s going on in the city, and that’s going to be an ongoing thing.”

Goldstein, a former advertising executive with McClatchy Newspapers, which owns the Charlotte Observer, said the new website will be more user friendly and will allow the company’s online presence to expand.

Like most print publishers, the Creative Loafing chain of weeklies has experienced financial turbulence as a growing number of readers – and along with them, advertisers – have moved online, where profit margins are generally smaller.

The former parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2008 and was eventually bought by Atalaya Capital Management, one of its creditors, for $5 million. In addition to Charlotte and Atlanta, the chain includes weekly tabloids in Tampa, Fla.; Sarasota, Fla.; Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Goldstein said she hopes to have a new Charlotte editor in place within the next month or so.

Hargro, who previously worked at Creative Loafing Atlanta, had given the Charlotte publication heightened exposure in the city’s growing African American community.

A fixture at social and nightlife events, he was named last year as one of "The Root 100." The list is compiled each year by TheRoot.com to recognize "young achievers and pace setters." TheRoot.com is an African American website owned by the Washington Post.

In 2008 Hargro was one of four Qcity residents to receive the Urban League of Central Carolinas Leadership Award, which recognizes emerging leaders.

Asked what he was most proud of during his tenure at Creative Loafing Charlotte, Hargro said he worked hard to give the newspaper a greater presence online. He added more than 24 bloggers, podcasts and coverage of more exclusive events, he said, noting that Internet pageviews quadrupled under his leadership.

Hargro said he also was pleased with his efforts to connect the newspaper more with African Americans as well as with Charlotte’s lesbian, gay and transsexual community.

“I really wanted to make the community and people inside the paper understand that our audience is not one race,” he said.

As for his future plans, Hargo said he has no definite moves in mind.

“I’m open to leaving Charlotte based on the opportunity,” he said. “I love Charlotte; it’s a great city. And I definitely have a lot of friend and contacts invested in the city. At this point I really want to pursue some things I’m passionate about, wherever that takes me.”

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November 22, 2014
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