By Simon McCormack
The Trib Says Goodbye
Last Saturday, the Albuquerque Tribune published its final issue, and in its dying gasps, it may have breathed new life into a community thirsting for alternative media.
The Friends of the Albuquerque Tribune (FOAT) drew nearly 50 people to a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21, where anxious attendees shared ideas about what to do in the post-Tribune era.
The onlookers’ emotions ran the gamut. There was anger that the Tribune seemed doomed to failure despite the group's best efforts, which included an attempt to purchase the struggling afternoon paper. There was fear that the only daily voice of Albuquerque would be the Albuquerque Journal and all the right-leaning editorial content that comes with it. Most of all, there was cautious optimism that a new print-media outlet could rise from the Trib's ashes and provide the Duke City with another source of local information.
The idea gaining the most traction during the meeting was to start a locally owned, cooperative, nonprofit daily online newspaper. The publication could eventually also be available in hard copy. Board member Rosamund Evans mentioned at the meeting that if 10,000 people were willing to pay $100 a year for a subscription to the community-owned paper, it would give the publication a $1 million operating budget.
So how is FOAT going to find 10,000 people interested in a subscription to an upstart publication? FOAT's first target is Trib subscribers. In the paper's last issue, the group placed a half-page ad trying to drum up interest in a new Albuquerque newspaper.
Anything that’s cooperatively owned takes some getting used to. Just ask the woman at the meeting who was so confused about what being a co-op member would entail, she started shouting, "What do I do? What do I do?"
The crowd was mostly of the baby boomer generation, but there were some younger folks sprinkled in as well. One attendee expressed concern about how many hours it would take "all of us old activists" to start up and maintain a paper. Board member Joe Sackett laughed and shot back, "You're right, but this is something that's really worth doing. This could really work."
The Friends of the Albuquerque Tribune's next public meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in room 2402 of the UNM Law School. To donate skills, time or resources to FOAT's newspaper project, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two corrections from last week's Roundhouse Roundup: The Whistleblower Protection Act we mentioned was ditched early in the session but came back inside of SB 437. This measure is called the State Ethics Commission Act. The bill was stripped of all mention of a commission and became only about whistleblower protection. SB 437 passed the House and Senate but did not get concurrence, which means it won't be available for the governor to sign.
Also, Sen. Michael Sanchez' second campaign contributions caps effort, SB 387, was amended to be fairly strident. But it still didn't pass the House. Sanchez' earlier campaign contribution limits bill, SB 264, was abandoned early in the session.
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