OCN fades to black as BlueOregon stays strong

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Big news in the Oregon blog world today. It seems that Oregon Capitol News has ceased publication, due to the lack of major-donor support. That's the self-described "independent and neutral news source" published by libertarian think tank Cascade Policy Institute. From their statement:

However, the project was launched with contributions from certain donors who hoped that they could gradually withdraw their support as the enterprise became more self-sufficient. In our judgment, that business model is infeasible, and we do not see a path to financial independence for OCN.

On the one hand, anytime we lose an outlet for well-written political commentary, it's a loss for the political community.

On the other, OCN comically pretended to be neutral and independent when they were anything but. (Managed to bamboozle the Oregonian, though.) That statement from OCN was signed by Cascade Policy CEO John Charles. Over at the Sockeye last May, Scott Moore called OCN a "front group" and noted that OCN "is entirely dependent on the CPI--an advocate for policies that help big corporations--for its very existence." And that fact is more apparent than ever now.

OCN's demise makes me even more proud of what we've accomplished here. BlueOregon was launched in July 2004, nearly 8 years ago, by a group of progressives that just wanted to read, write, and talk about progressive politics in Oregon. We have no funders, and never expected to make any money (and we don't, beyond a few nickels here and there that keep the lights on). BlueOregon is a labor of love.

As an all-volunteer operation, we miss some things. We go weirdly quiet from time to time (spring break!) and we miss big stories that a professionally-staffed operation wouldn't. But we've shined a critical spotlight on stories that would otherwise be missed, stayed doggedly on stories that others are trying to sweep under the rug, and created a community (finally!) that's a respectful and trusted place for discussion.

Out and about, I tend to get a lot of the credit for BlueOregon, but the credit really goes to the all-volunteer team of contributors that write often (and not-so-often), and to all of you. Without an active group of dedicated readers and commenters (and we know that 95% or more of our readers never ever comment), this would just be a bunch of bits on a server somewhere. You are our community. And we're grateful to you.

As always at BlueOregon, we're pondering next steps big and small. And your suggestions would be very, very welcome. But let me start here: Do you have a hankering to contribute to BlueOregon? Are you interested in pontificating, analyzing, badgering, synthesizing, and thinking out loud about progressive politics in Oregon? Post a comment, or send me a note. We're looking for a few new good voices.

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    No funders? Not a dime of MM money has gone towards any of BlueO's operations, including personnel time?

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      Well, that's impossible to unscramble. I work 60-80 hours most weeks, more during campaign season. Some of that time, I write on BlueOregon.

      From time to time, we use some of our technical capacity to make improvements, but that time has been paid for out of the extremely limited ad revenues.

      The point is: No major sponsors or underwriters.

      Now, if someone reading this happens to be interested in just such a role, well, I've got lots of ideas for how BlueOregon can go to the next level and make a bigger impact with some funding. (And, to be clear, that does not include paying me. I do what I do as a volunteer writer, and it'll stay that way.)

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      Thank you, John. I'm proud to be a champion for BlueO, but without everyone else, it'd just be me, yelling at whatever's in the newspaper.

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    To all the editors and contributors and commenters at BlueOregon: just thank you. All of you. As a follower and occasional participant since the beginning, I am grateful.

    I learn things. Sometimes I say things. It's fun, and I believe it matters. I have changed my mind on more than one issue or candidate based on reading BlueOregon, and I don't think there could be any stronger endorsement than that.

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    Kari - I've always appreciated the work you guys do here on BlueO. I was in Portland last week to hear David Brooks who said his personal rule is to never interview a politician from one party, without interviewing one from the other party to stay "balanced." Well, I visit BlueO weekly for my dose of balance on progressive/liberal viewpoints.

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    I congratulate you, Kari, and all contributors. Well done! I hope you will continue and expand coverage of the political scene in Oregon.

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    Second, third, and fourth that, Kari. Blogs require the champions, and you have been BlueO's Sir Gawain, and we are the better for it. Kudos!

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    Yeah, there's a reason BlueOregon's an award-winning blog that's stood the test of time.

    In part, it's because of the contributors and commenters (and lurkers!)

    But in large part, it's because Kari's really worked at inviting and welcoming a diversity of voices, and creating the back-end technology that makes a relatively civil community conversation possible.

    Congrats, Kari.

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    No, really folks, this was not some desperate plea for kudos.

    I appreciate it. But as Evan notes, it's the diversity of voices (though not quite diverse enough) that make it work.

    I joined Jeff and Jesse in founding BlueOregon because it seemed like something I wanted to read, not write. I do a lot of writing, but what gives me a thrill is that chirp of a text message when Twitter tells me that a new BlueOregon column has posted that I didn't write.

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    Anything John Charles has ever touched has turned to lead. He has a charmed life.

    Congrats for sticking around Kari.

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