Creative Loafing writer ‘always wanted to be journalist’

It’s 7 p.m. on a Thursday. Creative Loafing’s Meaghan Habuda, 23, arrives at Mad Beach Brewing Company in Madeira Beach.

She is here for the screening of a documentary titled Blood, Sweat and Beer, which is a part of Tampa Bay Beer Week.

The brewery is a large room with the bar on one end and long tables, stools, a stage and TV screens on the other. Habuda wants to find a seat with the best view of the film.

Over the course of the screening, she takes the occasion note in her red notebook and snaps a few photos. She photographs moments in the documentary, the crowd and of the filmmakers.

At the end of the night, Habuda approaches the filmmakers to let them know who she was and the upcoming story for CL.

The story appeared the next day on the CL website. It detailed the plot of the documentary and some information on the filmmakers.

As food editor of CL, Habuda says of her job, “I don’t not like anything.” At CL for over a year now, she first interned in college then went part-time in March 2014. She’s been full-time since November 2014.

Located at 1911 N. 13th Street Ybor City, CL is the third largest newspaper in the Tampa Bay area and offer an alternative means for readers to get the news, according its website.

They rent their space from the Church of Scientology, according to Habuda.

Inside is a large room, split between actual office space and a large open room with a stage at the opposite end of the door.

The office space is split again, with advertising on one side and editorial staff on the other. The environment in the room is quiet, with several staff members plugged into their laptops via headphones.

In the back are the archives, dating back to the 1980s.

Although CL still maintains a print presence, is has an online presence as well.

Habuda says that CL has an online first mentality, with print being secondary. She says that they can do new things online, but can still have a “cool spread” with both mediums.

Despite the move to the internet of not just CL but more mainstream publications, Habuda believes that journalism isn’t going anywhere.

“Journalism is not allowed to die.”

But she doesn’t see alternative news outlets as the future of journalism. “Someone needs to report the newsy stuff,” she says. She sees CL as a means for people to get away from reality.

Although they do report on current events, she says that they get to put their own spin on it.

Habuda says that she loves what she does, but it’s not what she thought she would end up doing.

She’s always wanted to be in journalism, but in terms of what she wanted to do has changed. In high school, she said she had the “old school traditional expectation” of journalism and wanted to write about corruption, local politics, and the city council.

In short, she wanted to “take down those bastards with my words.”

Then in college, where she attended the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg, not much changed. Although she said she almost wanted do women’s studies as a minor with journalism.

Now at her current job, Habuda says that she is the youngest editor there, with four total editors. Every day she is required to write three posts online of about 500 words.

Habuda is only in the office Mondays through Wednesdays, on works from home on Thursdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays she says all editors have to have their stories in, with the print version going out on Thursdays.

She says that she’s not in it for the money, but is just glad she has a job.

Despite her happiness there, she doesn’t see this as a long-term position. Habuda says that if a better opportunity came up, she would leave. She’s open to working at another CL office in another city.

No matter what, she wants to continue being a journalist.