I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Change is Coming
I’m sure you have noticed that commentaries like this one have been vanishing from the New Mexico Independent. I don’t speak for management but I have asked “Why?” and in this, my last essay here, I want to pass along what I’ve learned.
First, The Independent isn’t doing away with opinion, just changing the format for its expression, as you will soon see. (I hope to contribute from time to time.)
Further, I surmise, the Independent’s focus will move a bit from opinion toward reporting. If that’s so, I can only applaud, tip the hat, raise my glass.
It’s the right direction. And here’s why
Print journalism is in crisis. The old economic model for print having eroded, newspapers are dying or retrenching – cutting back on basic beats and important (if ancillary) areas like the arts. That, to risk understatement, is problematic. In fact, if you believe democracy requires an attentive, aggressive, skeptical press, it’s very serious.
Internet journalism is expanding, true, but there’s a surfeit of opinion and too little bread-and-butter reporting, particularly the local kind.
Fortunately, there are significant efforts afoot to foster Web reporting. That is the good news the current Columbia Journalism Review conveys in a long takeout entitled, “The Reconstruction of American Journalism.”
The article is strong on how American journalism got here, what “here” looks like and what’s on the drawing board. Authors Leonard Downie Jr. and Michael Schudson go further, however, outlining a plan to “preserve and promote serious reporting in the for-profit, non-profit and public sectors.” That’s brave, venturing into virgin territory, and, frankly, I don’t know enough to weigh their suggestions; CJR, however, appends evaluations from four well-qualified observers.
P.S. The CJR story touches on both the Albuquerque Journal and the Center for Independent Media, parent of this publication.
While there’s no doubt that today’s most pressing need is what CJR calls “accountability journalism,” I would hate to leave without affirming the value of commentary. We’re inundated with dots of information that – lacking connective tissue – mean darn little. I have tried to make those connections each week, as well as remind you and me both that our political positions rest on deeper assumptions and that we’re fallible.
Also, because the phrase “timid liberal” has become redundant, I have couched my political views in muscular prose.
Finally, I have habitually critiqued the Albuquerque Journal here; starting any day now, I will monitor the Journal regularly at ABQ Journal Watch.
Thank you for reading and responding over the past 17 months.
Editor’s note: We are indeed changing the way we incorporate commentary into our site. Our goal is to include more voices and engage them in an active conversation about issues that are important to New Mexico. We hope to include many of the same voices you’ve seen in this section–and more. Watch for it to debut soon!