Shameless Plugs are OK, When There's No Personal Gain, Right?

I know one person at The New Mexico Independent. She's a friend. We throw that word, friend, around a lot, but this sense of friend is the truest sense. You know favors, caring, genuine affection, the whole nine yards. (Guys aren't good at doing what i'm trying to do...) I was really excited when she took on the job of working in this new paradigm of "Newspapers in Internet Form". The New Mexico Independent is part of a national web of like ventures, brought to us by The Independent News Network.You can go to their website for a daily look at national news, with a slightly underground bent (in my opinion).

Anyhoo, I caught a recent message of hers that was soliciting donations to help support the online newspaper. And I wondered to myself about the state of journalism today, REAL journalism, and the relationship between our humble little 6500 member strong blog and the reported news. Other people are wondering, too. You should click on the link at the top center of our home page if you already haven't. It'll lead you to this survey. Down at the lower right of the DCF home page there's a blog roll of recent news and blog posts. That's typically how I check my news throughout the day and evening, especially political. What about you?

I constantly see news items in the Albuquerque Journal (pay to play, there, baby), and on local TV broadcast news- and know for a fact that the leads come from DCF (see this, and this). NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT. But I'd love a little hat tip once in a while. Don't even talk to me about the time when my Mary McCormick thrashing blew up on the radio and the TV news picked it up. (End Rant)

And don't get me wrong, I don't want to bash The Journal. I read it almost every weekday. (It arrives at the workplace miraculously on the breakroom table every morning). But I can tell the paper is on a serious downward slide. They have cut tens if not hundreds of positions, many many of them reporter posts. Their number of "must-read" writers, for me, is down to two- John Fleck (environment) and David Steinberg (arts and books). Yesterday's paper was like a 16th of an inch thick. I would also like to mention that I feel as though the publishing magnate of the paper has a somewhat heavy hand when it comes to local politics, especially endorsements. And I'm not just saying that because he's an unabashed conservative. Here's an old examination of that topic. (It also mentions the job the NMI was doing on the 2008 election reporting.)

But this isn't an "all other news vs. the NMI" post. It's just a way for me to ask us all what we support, in terms of our "annual giving". In my opinion, journalism is something that requires our support, whether we buy a paper or give to NMI, KNME, KUNM, or others. Of course, of those, only the newspaper is a for-profit entity. It's a shame really, that the times of Woodward and Bernstein are somewhat long gone. That's why I'm choosing to support the NMI. And why I have overstepped solicitation boundaries here with my weekly post to ask you to consider it as well.

In essence, I wanted to help independent journalism in a way besides just donating money (mostly because I am cheap and have no expendable cash right now). I have donated to causes such as this in the past, having been members of both KNME and KUNM in recent years. I do the KUNM thing mostly, if not exclusively, as retribution for listening to so much damn NPR. And KNME, well, public television is just plain awesome (especially the Frontline, Independent Lens and P.O.V. series(es)). I will donate to the New Mexico Independent because of friendship, and because journalism is so important in this day and age of oil spills, unchecked corporate power, chemicals in our food and water, and crooked politics. When the newspapers fail and Bill Moyers dies, who will be there to keep them honest? Just blogs and online news entities like the Independent News Network (and HuffPost, and Daily Kos, and Perez Hilton, well, maybe not Perez Hilton). And i'm sure there are wonderful conservative online news entities and underground right of center committed parties out there, too. I'm just not familiar with them, that's all. But honestly, I support the concept, no matter the slant.

Finally, I wanted to share my favorite few stories from the recent past that the NMI has brought us.

  • This forum piece regarding bringing business opportunities to NM. (And yes, Martha Burk is the same woman who protested The Masters golf tournament a few years back because no women were allowed to be members at Augusta National Golf Club...)
  • This story about the likelihood of a green glow 65 miles west.
  • And finally this oft-examined topic of late regarding the difference between NM and AZ.

So, please excuse the gushing and the proselytizing, and choose to ignore it all, if you must. But I feel a lot better putting my money where my eyes/ears go. Do you?

Views: 11

Comment by LaGuera on May 26, 2010 at 2:48pm

There is an assumption that you are making, that journalists who receive donations are less trustworthy than those who are "bought", their salaries paid by advertisers. What about news outlets that are owned by the billionaire Rupert Murdoch (Newscorp, Fox News, Wall Street Journal)? Are they above reproach and more objective because they're owned by a kajillionaire?

Here in the US we delude ourselves into thinking that the news outlets ought to have some sort of objectivity, something that's possible when reporting on cats stuck in trees and a burning building, but anything beyond that, and there will be an angle.

At least in Europe, you know what you're getting when you buy a newspaper; you're getting a take on something. In France, if you want the commie point of view, you read Libération. If you want the right, you read Le Figaro (a handy thing to know when deciding if the person you're chatting up in the café has the same political leanings as you).
Comment by Gwyneth on May 26, 2010 at 4:35pm
Tthis is awesome! I'm a HUGE FAN of the Duke City Fix, and of Mark (and Sophie and Chantal). Anyway, nice-nice aside, this really means a lot to us because I know a lot of DCF readers also read The Independent. I noticed a long time ago that we get a lot of traffic from DCF. There are probably a lot of reasons for that.

I think we have a lot in common. Although we're very clumsy with social networking compared to you guys, we do try to be interactive with our readers, especially with our webcasting and live blogging of the Legislature and other public meetings. And we have a very low tolerance for BS. When the state Insurance Division told Blue Cross Blue Shield that they could raise rates by more than 20 percent we decided to look into it. And what did we find? The state appears to have taken the company at its word, despite the lack of evidence that the rate hike was necessary.

As a non-partisan nonprofit, we're not in this for the money. (Ha! No journalist is in it for the money, that's for sure.) We're in it to do good journalism in the public interest. This grassroots fundraising drive will definitely not make us beholden to big donors—because there are none. Most folks are giving $10 or $15. I think the biggest donation we've received is $100. Our hope is that by establishing a broad base of support we can continue to fulfill our mission even through rough economic times.

So hey, if you feel like supporting us, great. If you just want to read it, please continue doing so. And if you haven't been yet, check it out!

Thanks Mark, and thanks DCF!

Comment by JeSais on May 27, 2010 at 9:13am
One interesting point about the state of publishing (especially news): many newspapers are indeed still profitable. The problem is that they are not profitable enough for the big conglomerates that own them (I read an article that I believe would back this up, but can't seem to put my hands on it at the moment.)
I do have a friend who writes for The Faster Times, check out the article from the NY Times on this new "journalism collective"
Comment by Barelas Babe on May 27, 2010 at 11:34am
Excellent post Mark. I'd add Win Quigley to my list of "must-read" journalists at the Albuquerque Journal, and keep the two you've named. After a lifetime of hard copy newspaper subscriptions, I finally gave up on the Journal - just couldn't get past the blurring of editorializing and news that Albuquerque Journal Watch does such a good job of noting. I still wake up every morning and head to the front door for my paper - hard to break a lifetime habit.


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