NM Independent makes its mark

New Mexico seemed particularly blessed last April when the non-profit Center for Independent Media founded the New Mexico Independent, a comprehensive online newspaper designed to cover local news exclusively.

The CIM had already established similar online papers in four states and Washington D.C as part of its New Journalist Pilot Program. The idea was to train a new corps of journalists and create independent media outlets by melding emerging blog technology with the standards of professional journalism.

The CIM experiment was a timely one, coming as the print newspaper business model was rapidly falling out of favor and online news consumption was rising.

The birth of the New Mexico Independent came just as the Albuquerque Tribune shut down, leaving the city with only one newspaper, one domineering news source and one editorial point of view.

The New Mexico Independent caught on quickly and has become a staple for political junkies, who are hooked on its arch media criticism and feisty, watchdog stories on environmental, social, cultural and educational topics and, of course, the recent election.

(Full disclosure: I write a weekly column for the New Mexico Independent, but have nothing to do with the site’s daily newsgathering, which is done by fellows who work for a monthly stipend.)

This week we heard the CIM is cutting back operations in some states, drastically in some, less in others. The New Mexico Independent lost four fellows, but CIM says the site will continue to provide vigorous, local news content.

I certainly hope it does – not because I’m an occasional writer for the site – but because, like so many New Mexicans, I care deeply about the fundamentally democratic principle of keeping as many eyeballs on the news as possible.

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