Check out Heath in the Alibi

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My favorite newspaper-reporter-turned-online-journalist Heath Haussamen was profiled in the Alibi this week. Here’s an excerpt:

[Haussamen]: The benefits of the online format are immediacy, depth and multimedia opportunities. I can publish articles that don’t run in newspapers until the next day. I can have a written article accompanied by photos, video, comments, links to other sites that contain more information, etc. The possibilities are nearly endless. And the only space constriction is the attention span of the readers. So there’s more opportunity for exploring the complexities of issues than in print or on television.

Heath is an incredible asset to the state, and especially to residents in Southern New Mexico. His prediction that Doña Ana County may one day rival Bernalillo in size is a bold one, but he makes the case. If it comes to pass, he’s going to be primed to take advantage of the increased importance of the area.

In addition, Heath is a great advocate for increased openness in government and reducing the role of corporate money in politics, and who can’t get behind those principles?

His site should be daily reading, and I hope you’ll give him a read if you haven’t already. You can always find his latest headlines in my sidebar, though you’d do well to bookmark him or add his site to your feed reader.

Afternoon Newspapers

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On the news that the Albuquerque Tribune is on the chopping block up for sale, Jim Baca noted:

“It is the trend for PM Newspapers across the country for years now. The last nail in the coffin was the Internet. All those people that used to wait for the afternoon delivery just switched over to blogs and Internet news services.

Silver City is in almost exactly the same situation: it has an afternoon newspaper and a morning paper as well. One of the two flipsides to the Albuquerque situation is circulation: right now, the Silver City Daily Press (the PM paper) has the Silver City Sun-News beat as far as subscribers go. In addition, the Daily Press circulation numbers have been going up (or, at least that’s what my employer told us before I left the newspaper).

Still, the Daily Press can’t become complacent.  More and more residents of Grant and Catron counties will get access to the Internet (and more of those users will have access to broadband) and the Daily Press is going to find itself competing with more and more competitors.

It’s going to be interesting to watch what happens with the Daily Press. I’d love to see a more active Web site for the paper. Their online edition is a unique approach, but I think they’ll eventually find they need more interactivity (i.e. comments sections for articles), a better archive system and more free content.

I’d also pitch making the Daily Press Web site the Internet resource for residents, and for those planning to visit and/or move to the area. The Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce fills part of that role, but I think the Daily Press could find a niche if it invested the time and energy into making it intuitive and useful.

Still, the newspaper business in Silver City should make for exciting speculation and viewing in the coming years, as more and more people get their news and information from non-traditional sources, like blogs, Digg, and podcasts.

Huge loss for the people of New Mexico

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Bob Johnson, the director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, has passed away:

Robert H. “Bob” Johnson, a champion for open government and a former Associated Press executive who, during a 42-year career, wrote AP’s first bulletin on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, has died. He was 84.

After retiring from the news cooperative in 1988, Johnson helped start the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government and made a new career out of fighting for public access to government meetings and records.

I first worked with Bob when I was editor of the Mustang. I was a complete rookie in the journalism business, but Bob didn’t care — he was incredibly helpful and insightful. During the past four years, that’s how I always encountered Bob: I had some question about access to public records, and he’d tell me about the applicable statutes or give me a comment for print.

In a time when our lives are under increased scrutiny, and when our privacy is at risk, it’s a sad blow to New Mexicans that their greatest champion in checking government power has gone so soon.

Thank you, Bob, for everything.

Waiting for Comcast, Reading about the Media

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Due to a miscommunication (yeah, no kidding) the Comcast technician thought nobody was here when he came by on Friday. So, I’m stuck waiting around again this morning/afternoon.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading some interesting stuff. Until I get a better connection, I’m just going to touch on one item — Why Americans Hate the Media. The article is from 1996 (!), covers a wide variety of targets, and is highly insightful: it explains in perfect, painful detail that which you’ve always known all along. A snippet:

On Sunday, November 6, 1994, two days before the congressional elections that swept the Republicans to power, The Washington Post published the results of its “Crystal Ball” poll. Fourteen prominent journalists, pollsters, and all-around analysts made their predictions about how many seats each party would win in the House and Senate and how many governorships each would take.

One week later many of these same experts would be saying on their talk shows that the Republican landslide was “inevitable” and “a long time coming” and “a sign of deep discontent in the heartland.” But before the returns were in, how many of the fourteen experts predicted that the Republicans would win both houses of Congress and that Newt Gingrich would be speaker? Exactly three.

This one is my favorite:

When ordinary citizens have a chance to pose questions to political leaders, they rarely ask about the game of politics. They want to know how the reality of politics will affect them—through taxes, programs, scholarship funds, wars. Journalists justify their intrusiveness and excesses by claiming that they are the public’s representatives, asking the questions their fellow citizens would ask if they had the privilege of meeting with Presidents and senators. In fact they ask questions that only their fellow political professionals care about. And they often do so—as at the typical White House news conference—with a discourtesy and rancor that represent the public’s views much less than they reflect the modern journalist’s belief that being independent boils down to acting hostile.

Think about that the next time you hear some idiot rambling on about the price of John Edwards’ haircut. Fallows article is definitely worth a read (hat tip to Ezra for the linkage). Matt has more.

Once I have a better connection, I’ll be back with another media topic — this time, on local newspapers in the age of the Internet.