It was a little over a year ago when I first was contacted about 1819 News. It had been over a decade since I was part of a news organization, but journalism — good journalism — has always been my first love.
One of the questions I frequently got when I was out talking to people was, “Where can I get news about the state of Alabama that I can trust?” So the idea of being part of starting up a new media organization with the goal of doing things the “old-fashioned” way — straight news, no bias, but with a voice that tried to reflect the people of this state — was very appealing to an old journalist like me.
From the beginning, I said I would love to help get this started, to get it to a position where it was recognized and respected, but then I would move on.
We did those things faster than I thought possible. All of our goals for readership and subscriptions were exceeded way ahead of schedule. And everywhere I went, from politicians to just people at the grocery store, I heard, “Thank you for what you’re doing at 1819 News. Somebody is giving us the other side of the story.”
So here we are, a year later for me but not quite a full year of publication, and 1819 News has quickly become a part of the fabric of media in this state. I proudly tell people that we had twice as many people covering the state legislature on a daily basis as any other media outlet in the state (even though we only had two; that's how far things had fallen in coverage of state government); and our coverage of the campaigns and election this year was fair, thorough, not just focused on the 'big' races and also willing to go into candidates further down the ballot. And again, people — and candidates — counted on our coverage of the primaries.
At the same time, we brought back good investigative work. Not to the level we want (yet), but we were able to shine light on a number of issues in this state, from spending and campaign contributions to the power of unelected officials, right down to education and even the rising cost of garbage pickup.
Because of that, and some personal reasons that I don't need to go into, this is a good time for me to step back and let someone else take this project and build on what we’ve accomplished in a very short time.
We’ve put together a staff that I am proud of, with some well-known journalists who were willing to take a chance on the vision, and some newcomers with no experience but who were big on desire. I’d never done podcasts before — the first podcast I ever listened to was one I was hosting! — but the feedback I received for 1819 News The Podcast was gratifying. Getting to add a sports component was an important factor in expanding 1819 News, and I look forward to seeing how that grows and expands and brings new readers to 1819 News.
This was a great experience for me. But it’s time to move on.
I don’t know what that will look like. Maybe it’s actually retirement, if my family can stand to have me around.
But I do know that what we’ve started at 1819 News will be here, “rising to the moment of truth,’’ as our masthead says.
And I will always be proud of that.
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