Kat Kinsman, the managing editor of CNN’s Eatocracy blog, has left the network, she announced on Facebook. She will be joining Tasting Tables in a few weeks as editor-in-chief.
Colleagues, friends, family – I’m winding up my time here and I’m gonna blather for a very long time.
One July afternoon in 2010, I was in a crappy mood. I had no real reason to be – Sarah LeTrent and I had just successfully launched Eatocracy, and I was living my impossible dream of writing about food for the best damn news outlet on the planet.
And that was the problem. I’d somehow crawled through a back door and stumbled into CNN. CNN! Legendarily full of the best journalists in the business: people who risk their lives, dig deep, seek the truth, speak truth to power, grill world leaders and corrupt CEOs. And I was pretty much writing about grills.
But that day, that particular day I came back to my desk, and I saw this Post-It:
In case you can’t see it, it says: “What you do matters.”
Devna Shukla from AC360 had left it on my desk after working with Sarah and me on a piece about her passionate love for PB&J. That subject might sound a little less than world-shaking, but start reading some of the nearly 500 comments and you start to see that people had a lot to say about this simple sandwich. It made them feel and relate and feel like a part of something larger than themselves.
And that’s what we tried to do for the past four and a half years at Eatocracy – talk about the world through the lens of food, how it connects and divides us, culturally defines us and physically drives us.
I’ve gotten to host dinner parties at James Carville and Mary Matalin’s home in New Orleans, help change public perception of who the “hungry” are, and exhort people to start gardens and document their elders while they cook. I’ve written a 2000-word opus on salad, eaten MRE pizza and Soylent on camera, said “spatchcock” live on CNN and HLN several Thanksgivings in a row and ended up in a Daily Show clip talking about horsemeat. I’ve rattled the cages of Paula Deen fans by talking about her cultural appropriation, gotten in a fight (and made up warmly) with Anthony Bourdain, debated the merits of pie vs cake in front of a crowd of hundreds, gotten death threats from animal rights activists, eaten an awful lot of gumbo and barbecue and oh yeah, one more thing:
I became a journalist.
That was because of all of you. I learned by example. I walked in a decent teller of stories and you taught me what it means to report and source and check and check again and dig deeper until a story drowns out everything else in your life. Working among you has been the greatest privilege of my professional career.
And I also became an essayist. The CNN Living team and Meredith’s encouragement enabled and emboldened me to share my own stories about depression, anxiety, complicated feelings about motherhood and my appearance and so much more. Having the CNN platform to do this changed my life, and I can tell you from the roar of voices from readers, it changed theirs, too, to see these subjects tackled in a public forum.
That’s why I started First Person, which will continue after I leave here. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a series of personal essays by CNN staffers talking about identity, tough choices, and the circumstances that define who we become. I wanted to let the world know about the extraordinary human beings who make CNN happen.
What YOU do matters – even if it doesn’t always feel like it or you don’t hear it enough. If you do need to hear it, reach out to me and I will tell you. I’m taking a few weeks off to finish my book (“Hi, Anxiety” – due out Summer 2015 from Harper Collins if I do not perish from anxiety first), and then I’m going to take the reins as Editor in Chief at Tasting Table, where I will have a test kitchen and probably even more booze on my desk than I had here. I’m going to do my best to further the conversation about food there, and slip in as many Morrissey references as I possibly can.
I’d love to keep in touch. Because you matter to me.