NMPolitics.net is coming back; read about our mission

Heath Haussamen

Heath Haussamen

We can be better than this.

That’s what I wrote in my last column for NMPolitics.net, when I shut down the site in September 2012 to move on to a new job with New Mexico In Depth.

Back then we were in the middle of a bitter election season. I wrote that we were living in one of the most divided and dysfunctional times in our nation’s history.

That’s still true. Too many of our politicians and others with power and money, our citizens, and even some of our journalists are engaged in a partisan and ideological battle between left and right that encourages us to pick sides and fight instead of working together.

We’re not bogged down by gridlock in New Mexico. Whether you agree with what’s happening, there’s lots of action. For example, Las Cruces, where I live, sits right between the state’s two largest economic development projects – the industrial park at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry and Spaceport America.

The successful effort to legalize same-sex marriage in New Mexico started in Las Cruces. It’s the third city in New Mexico to raise the minimum wage and likely the poorest in America to do it. And the largest national monument President Obama has created surrounds the City of the Crosses.

But voter turnout is at an all-time low. And New Mexico remains at the bottom of most of the important lists, no matter how any politician spins things. In many ways New Mexico remains stuck, as it has for decades through the tenures of Democratic and Republican governors, and in spite of various efforts to improve quality of life that came from across the ideological spectrum.

We’re trying. And we can be better than this.

A deep hope

Armed with a deep hope that we can overcome our state’s poverty mentality, I’m restarting NMPolitics.net. We’re best when we work together, and I want to help pull New Mexico in that direction. I’m a native New Mexican. I’m raising my daughter here. I’m committed to helping better this state.

I’ve learned a lot from my time with New Mexico In Depth. I have some new ideas to make NMPolitics.net sustainable and influential. I’m also developing plans to mentor young journalists and students to help improve the diversity and quality of journalism in our state.

I helped create NMID, I care about it, and I support its work. And it’s time for me to focus where my heart is pulling me – on doing journalism that’s relational and, as I did at NMID, looking for ways to mentor young reporters.

While journalists are trained to be observers, we also live in communities. In an era where people are flooded with information but often feel excluded from public discourse, journalism can do so much more than inform: It can engage.

Even informed people sometimes don’t know how to get involved. Their time is precious and they may feel like their participation isn’t valued. Journalism in the 21st Century should give people an entry point into the conversation, challenge them to be involved, and value their participation.

We can also help involve people in the system by better reflecting our society’s multiculturalism and gender diversity. Most journalism in America is still done today by white men. If we want people to engage in public discussion, to vote, to run for office, to be involved in other ways, our media must reflect our diversity, both in the stories we tell and the people who tell them.

Going live around June 1

I’m working on ideas to help make journalism in New Mexico more diverse. And I’m committed to making journalism a conversation at the new NMPolitics.net. I will aim to foster discourse on serious issues, bring new people into the discussion, and help build understanding that undercuts the forces that seek to divide us.

I’m excited to take another stab at running a news organization that treats politics as serious business and people as partners in our democratic experiment instead of bystanders or consumers – a site that engages all people, holds power accountable, cuts through back-and-forth spin to find facts, and seeks common ground to help us move forward together.

I hope you’ll join me. Look for more updates in the coming days and weeks. The new NMPolitics.net goes live around June 1.

Comments are closed.