The Closing of the Silver City Daily Press & the End of Local Media

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In 2005, I found a lifeboat. At the time, I was the news director for KNFT. The radio station wasn’t in the best financial shape — in fact, a trustee had been appointed to manage the day-to-day operations. When I learned of an opening for a staff writer at the Daily Press, I arranged an interview with Publisher Tina Ely and Editor Dean Thompson. I began my two-year stint at the Press that July, and within months KNFT was bought out and fully automated. Continue reading…

Holier than thou

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Has there ever been anything related to blogs and media that Heath Haussamen hasn’t been right about? He should set up a hotline for us bloggers (and reporters!) who are writing stories, so we can make sure our content meets his standards.

Obviously, IOKIYAR – can you imagine the furor that would have erupted had Teague said something similar?

Still, I now know Tinsley should get a pass. Thanks Heath!

Congressional Twitter Feeds

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry over on Huffington Post about the need for new congressional rules that would let members of Congress use the same social tools that their constituents are using: Facebook, Youtube, blogs, etc. It was all part of the Sunlight Foundation‘s campaign, Let our Congress Tweet. While we used Twitter (the online social networking/microblogging site that limits your posts to 140 characters) as an example, we’re concerned that members of Congress should be able to use all the services technology offers.

Over at Congresspedia, we’re starting to track the members of Congress who are using Twitter. We’ve compiled a list of 29 members thus far, and we’re always on the look out for others. One neat trick we’re offering: for those members who are using Twitter, you can read their latest posts right on the Congressedia profile.

Rep. Tom Udall was one of the first to adopt the service, and his campaign has been quick to embrace blogging and other aspects of the Web as well. You can see his Congresspedia profile here, complete with his most recent “tweets” from Twitter.

If you know of any other members of Congress using Twitter (or congressional candidates for that matter) please let us know!

Journalist turnover in Silver City


(Updated in comments – Please see below)
With the recent news that Levi Hill would be leaving the Silver City Sun News, and Mary Alice Murphy’s shift to a part-time, freelance schedule at the Silver City Daily Press, came a realization: in the past four years, there’s been a 100-percent turnover for full-time, daily reporters in Silver City.

When I returned from Washington D.C. ((where I had interned with Sen. Jeff Bingaman for the summer)) in August, 2004, I took a position as news director for KNFT radio. My predecessor, Larry Behrens, had just taken a job as KOAT’s local reporter for the Silver City/Southwest New Mexico area. At the Sun News, Levi was working with Tom Baird and sports reporter Matt Miller. The Daily Press was employing Melissa St. Aude, Mary Alice Murphy, and Steven Siegfried, with Vince Kong on sports duty.

The lay of the land has changed completely. Every name listed above has moved on (or is moving on) with the exception of Mary Alice, whose role at the Daily Press has been reduced significantly. KNFT’s news operation was basically scrapped in 2006.

I think the changes have been gradual enough that there’s been no serious loss of institutional knowledge, the statistic is staggering in my mind. What happens to follow through on long-term stories? How does a news organization maintain relationships with the community when its most visible ambassadors are constantly changing?

What do you think? Has the turnover in reporters been good, bad, or a mixed bag?

Telling it like it is

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I’m catching up on some of my feed reading (sorry John, open government is trumping science these days) and started checking the backlog of posts at Waterblogged. That led me to this article on China’s Three Gorges Damn. The plain language is striking:

The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

I don’t know when the shift occurred, or why I didn’t notice, but it sure was nice to read a newspaper article that plainly said coal-based power production is a cause of global warming.



So, I guess I can let the word out: I’m the new assistant managing editor for Congresspedia.

“But wait,” you say. “Didn’t you just start a new job?”

Well, I did, but I applied for the Congresspedia position at the same time, and I think it will work out better for everybody involved. The Studio Theatre is an incredible organization, rightfully known for wonderful contemporary productions, and I’m already missing the staff there. Their newest production, Shining City, will probably leave you breathless.

So, what’s Congresspedia? It’s a joint effort between the Center for Media and Democracy and the Sunlight Foundation. Basically, we’re trying to promote a knowledge base founded on citizen editors — that means you! Anybody can register, and anybody can edit. It’s my job to help those who do. We have a couple of projects going on right now, so head on over and give it a try. We provide an preview of hearings and votes on major or controversial legislation, headlines throughout the week, and a recap of issues on Fridays, so there’s always something to learn if you drop in.

I’m a Sunlight Foundation employee, something I’m immensely proud to say. This is an organization that’s trying to increase transparency and openness in everything our government does. The staff bio page reads like a who’s who of open government advocates and investigative journalists.

The Sunlight Foundation hasn’t been around long, but it has some great accomplishments thus far. Take a look at PopUp Politicians (which is running on this site), for example, or the cool work we’re doing with the Punch Clock campaign.

I know a lot of people feel disillusioned about government and politics and the media. Congresspedia is a great way to not only take meaningful action, but to help others become involved as well. Every entry, every edit, is another bit of information that citizens and journalists can reference.

If I know my readership, you probably do quite a bit of reading online, and you’re likely interested in news and politics, and you’re tech-savvy to a degree. Why not check out New Mexico’s portal on the 2008 election, and make some changes? Add a candidate that’s running if we don’t have him or her listed yet. Check for endorsements. If you’ve been following the debate on SCHIP, why not record how New Mexico’s congressional delegation voted on the bill?

In closing, I’m incredibly excited to be part of this. It brings together so many of the things I’m interested in: new media, investigative journalism (though that’s not really my department at Sunlight), transparency in government, citizen participation and Congress itself. In other words, it’s just about my dream job.

So, head on over and poke around (be sure to do some editing) and, while you’re at it, add the Sunlight Foundation blog to your bookmarks and/or your feed reader.