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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The New Mexico Independent Is No More

As you've probably heard by now, the online New Mexico Independent news site, which was launched in April of 2008, as of today is no more. This is very bad news for New Mexico's citizens, as well as independent media coverage of government and politics. Of course it's also depressing news for NMI's fine editor and staff who are now out of a job in harsh economic times, as well as for me personally. 

The word first came from the New Mexico Independent's editor, Gwyneth Doland, on Twitter this morning:

The New Mexico Independent as you know it is now closed. The site will remain live, possibly with a half-time blogger

I next heard from one of NMI's reporters, Matthew Reichbach, that "NMI is about to be officially out of business." 

Why? Apparently the website's parent organization in Washington DC -- The American Independent News Network, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation -- has run out of money to fund more than a barebones operation with, at the most, one paid, part-time blogger/reporter on board. In addition, American Independent's sites in other states have reportedly been reduced to this same status in recent months, and the operation's national vehicle, the Washington Independent, is also having the bulk of its operations shut down.

The word is that fundraising for NMI locally, as well as for the parent organization, which is supported by a long list of individual and foundation donors, has been trending down significantly. As we all know, financial donations are down across the board in this serious economic downturn -- and you could say that NMI is just another casualty of the economic cataclysm that erupted at the end of the Bush administration. Almost all independent news organizations and blogs are feeling the pinch -- and it couldn't come at a worse time. Now, more than ever, our citizens are in dire need of top-notch reporting, commentary and analysis to counter the right-wing echo chamber and the increasingly corporate-controlled mainstream media.

Here in New Mexico, the situation seems especially dire. The Albuquerque Journal -- the so-called "paper of record" and the only truly statewide newspaper covering politics and government -- has apparently gone over to the dark side with obviously slanted and inadequate coverage of the 2010 election and beyond. Local TV news -- outside of public TV -- is all about murders and mayhem. Local "news" radio -- except for public radio -- is dominated by right-wing hate speech and shallow, baiting banter. It's getting harder and harder for anyone who's not a part of the right-wing juggernaut to get their message -- as well as the facts -- out to the general public.

Outside of Democracy for New Mexico, Clearly New Mexico and what we hope will be a renewed New Mexico FBIHOP, the local blogosphere network that once thrived has mostly been reduced to sites funded and/or directed in one way or another by right-wing interests -- whether they admit that orientation or not. Unlike Democratic or progressive entities and individuals, the GOP and its cronies are funding online sites and operations big time, often while hiding behind allegedly nonpartisan organizations like the Rio Grande Foundation. That's another reason why the loss of NMI will be felt so strongly.

While providing in-depth coverage on a myriad of issues both local and national, NMI specialized in filling a hole in local news about state government, especially in terms of the New Mexico Legislature and the operations of government entities like the Public Regulation Commission. In particular, its live blogging, video webcasting and on-the-ground coverage from the Roundhouse in Santa Fe during legislative sessions was ground breaking and incredibly illuminating in terms of exposing and explaining the nitty gritty of lawmaking in a way that ordinary citizens could understand it and get involved. Its extensive and live legislative coverage was unprecedented in the state, and pivotal in the never-ending battle for more transparency, accessibility and accountability in government.

With a new Republican governor and a legislature that will be battling incredibly complex challenges in terms of the budget, education, health care and so much more, NMI's contributions to factual reporting and reasoned analysis will be sorely missed. By me and so many others.

I know I speak for many when I extend my gratitude to the talented and dedicated folks who made NMI a must-read source of news and information during legislative sessions and election seasons, as well as all year round. Congratulations on a job well done during the two and a half years you served the citizenry of New Mexico. NMI, we hardly knew ye. You will be missed.

November 17, 2010 at 08:37 PM in Government, Journalism, Media, Weblogs | Permalink

Comments

Now more than ever, DFNM. Fight on!

Posted by: Ejército Libertador del Sur | Nov 17, 2010 9:02:48 PM

Well said, Barb. And thanks for the link to Journal Watch.

Posted by: Tracy Dingmann | Nov 17, 2010 9:55:57 PM

Awful news. I saw a big surge in citations to NMI stories from students. NMI was being used by folks outside the normal political realm who found NMI presented a different and credible side of debates.

Posted by: suz | Nov 17, 2010 11:59:52 PM

Sad day for NM.

Posted by: Terry Schleder | Nov 18, 2010 12:13:51 AM

Its no wonder they went bankrupt. The left always bankrupts everything they touch. Look at ole Billy boy - he squandered Gary Johnsons surplus and now the state is in a horrible financial crises that we may never recover from.

People never waste their hardearned money on foolish and reckless and stupid communist propaganda. They'd rather have REAL news. Nobody listens to leftist pinhead indoctrination. Most people already know what a communist is. WE WANT NEWS-NOT PROPAGANDA !!!

Posted by: chiknthief | Nov 18, 2010 7:40:57 AM

Like Glenn Beck and Rush limbaugh are real news. You people on the right always demonize everything. You are all brain washed. I , for one am saddend by NMI being no more. To those nuts stop bringing up Clinton and look at stupid Bush our selected President.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Nov 18, 2010 8:42:35 AM

chiknthief, Thanks for the laugh.

With the wealth of our nation (that giant sucking sound only 1% can hear) trending hard right, there is endless money for the reich wing, the stoopit, mediocrity, and t-bagging.

Good luck to the USA, failed nation. As for NM, I can only wish the people good luck. That giant sucking sound is in full operation as we speak. Say goodbye, they are already sweeping up every last dollar and they have not been sworn in yet.

Posted by: bg | Nov 18, 2010 8:53:21 AM

My heart is breaking. Farewell to objectivity in NM.

Posted by: qofdisks | Nov 18, 2010 9:29:15 AM

This is an ongoing circumstance that will wreck our nation and truly mean curtailed freedom and the loss of "for the people, by the people and of the people" in a more profound and complete way than we have imagined possible.

The rise of right wing media over the past 50 years has not been because it is inherently profitable. Massive investment has gone into place and many careers have been subsidized so that they didn't have to depend on making it in the free market.

The reason for this is pretty simple. Spend hundreds of millions over the course of decades and see profits in the billions.

Progressives don't have an economic special interest formula. It is harder to finance media operations with the donation of well meaning people who don't have a long term profit making strategy that comes from preventing government or the public from getting too interested in regulation or critical questioning, especially when it comes to Wall Street, Big Banking, multinational globalization or Big Oil.

At this point, the 4th Estate is essentially in a position to almost hold the "enlightened public" hostage that it is supposed to serve.

The only thing that keeps this from becoming a totalitarian scenario is the internet and fora like this.

If Net Neutrality is lost, American Freedom will be at risk. The Party of Big Business will very likely try to get control of the internet as well.

One hopes that there is a way that efforts like the NMI will succeed in the future.

We are likely to see the Journal go out of business as well, I would imagine, in the next few years.

I would tend to think that would cause a real scramble to figure out new ways of financing new media.

Most people don't see this circumstance as an emergency, but that is sort of like the frog in the water scenario. We are boiling, we just don't seem to feel it.

Posted by: Stuart Heady | Nov 19, 2010 9:42:23 AM

I agree with you 100% Stuart. The situation is dire, and the result of decades of work by corporate-military-security-financial interests to create a nation that's dedicated to their profits and not much else. Few seem to be noticing, or at least there has not yet been much meaningful push back against these forces or any substantial funding and support of alternative news and opinion sources.

Has freedom of the net been a hot topic on the campaign trail? Unfortunately, too many Dems spent the time cowering and being defensive instead of proactively pushing Democratic positions and values. Our President seems to be continuing that posture into the lame-duck session.

Huge numbers of people have to wake up to these realities and what's really behind the teabagger-right wing echo chamber, but I don't know how they'll get the info they need if they rely only on TV "news," talk radio and Comcast-like "news" portals.

Posted by: barb | Nov 19, 2010 11:02:41 AM