COMMENTARY: I felt like I was jumping off a cliff when I quit my job earlier this year to restart NMPolitics.net. I was full of hope and had a refocused mission, but also questions: Would people welcome my return after I shut down NMPolitics.net in 2012 to help start a nonprofit news organization? Could I make enough money running NMPolitics.net?
And perhaps most important: Was there something I could do to cut through the divisive and superficial rhetoric to foster bridge-building dialogue?
The answer to all these questions was “yes.” I’d like to share with you a few things I learned this year:
• People in communities with fewer media outlets are hungry for news, commentary and discussion: The Farmington Daily Times and others worked tirelessly to cover a toxic waste spill in the Four Corners that devastated farms on the Navajo Nation, but one of our articles about the spill was still NMPolitics.net’s most-read post this year. And a commentary about the city manager in Hobbs came in at No. 2. I’m thinking about how to expand coverage of rural communities next year.
• The NMPolitics.net community has the ability to spark statewide conversations: My July 1 commentary arguing that we should put Juan de Oñate in a museum alongside the Confederate flag earned 1,500 Facebook likes and more comments on our website and social media than I could track. It was followed by newspaper articles and demonstrations related to our state’s history of Spanish conquest.
• Even in these polarized times, we crave connection and understanding: You gave your time and money to help power the NMPolitics.net community this year. With so many polarizing headlines in the news, it was at times difficult to keep the discussion respectful and productive, but we did it! And even though this project continues to be a financial stretch for me, so many of you have opened your wallets to help fund NMPolitics.net!
I’m so grateful that you’ve come along on our journey this year. I’m really excited about what’s ahead 2016.
Thank you for being part of the NMPolitics.net community. Happy new year!