01 January 2008

Farewell to CoCo

After a year and a half of writing for Colorado Confidential, I'm moving on. The first six months, as a charter member of its staff, during which I posted about six stories a week, was intense and almost took me out with the carpal tunnel problems that I was starting to develop doing that on top of my day job. The last ten months, with six to eight stories a month with a narrower beat brought more balance to my life, while retaining the discipline of writing for publication, regularly, on deadline. Of course, my day job also involves writing on deadline.

But, it will be nice to slow down, breath deeply and take more time to engage in more opinionated, less news cycle driven analysis of the more subtle emerging stories at this blog. I'm also considering digging into some longer form academic writing. I did a conference paper on contracts about a year ago, but it is time to get back to academic writing.

I'm considering rethinking my post mix, with quick hits over coffee in the mornings, and longer analytical posts on late lunch breaks and in the evenings when time permits. Don't consider this a promise however. Muses are notoriously insistant on being served when they are in the mood and have serious performance anxiety if you push them for something too specific -- they can produce in those circumstances, but it isn't always their best work.

CoCo has made a valuable contribution to the Colorado media universe. Because it focuses on just one thing, coverage of state and local politics and related matters, it can do it well. It has reporting resources in that area comparable to a mid-sized daily newspaper. State and local politics are undercovered by the traditional media, so there are lots of untold stories that should be made available to a wider audience. Its commercial free character provides it independence from corporate America, not Consumer Reports style because it doesn't do a lot of business journalism, but freedom from the fear of offending people and thereby spooking advertisers that render advertising driven news outlets timid.

There are growing pains. It was created intentionally to be neither fish nor fowl with a staff drawn from both journalists and bloggers. CoCo is still working on finding its niche and deciding what it wants to be when it grows up. Sometimes it does muckracking investigative journalism. Sometimes it has op-ed style pieces with big name columnists. Sometimes it does breaking news. Sometimes it does analytical pieces. It has experimented with RSS feeds with mixed success. But, it is still working on finding a mix for the whole that gells with the various parts, and better distinguishing visually the various kinds of contributions it receives; currently icons are helping readers quickly process the various kinds of stories it offers. It also has to balance its mission to train citizen blogger-journalists with its mission to inform the wider public about Colorado politics. CoCo is a bit like a teaching hospital, but for journalists rather than for doctors.

Still it was a worthwhile experience, I'm glad I did it, and I look forward to the experiment's continued success.

No comments: