Well, this is it folks.
It’s time to move on to whatever the next chapter in my life is going to be. A lot has happened since the SDFP site went live on June 4, 2012, and I have a few closing (and personal) thoughts to express.
The vision of the founders of the San Diego Free Press was to create a platform for commentary and news from a progressive bent. We’d already mostly learned the production side of the business due to our involvement with the OB Rag.
People told us that what we were doing for Ocean Beach needed to be done for San Diego. A demonstration in 2010 outside The Black headshop, triggered by their sale of dehumanizing “don’t feel the homeless stickers” was the spark leading to meetings, more meetings, and finally the decision to launch.
Along the way I got sick. Real sick. As in stage 4 get-your-life-in-order sick. I got better after chemo, radiation, and, finally, surgery at the end of April 2012.
Better is relative, I suppose. For the final pre-publication meetings I was swollen up like a pumpkin. My vocal chords were gone, and it would be many months before surgery to create a space for a (notoriously unreliable) prosthetic to be used.
Now I look back at the experience as a gift. I lost my ability to speak, but gained a voice as I learned to share my observations on the news, life, and politics five days a week.
SDFP editors posted content every day for six and a half years: 8,965 stories, poems, photo galleries, and videos. We uploaded posts from our homes, our phones, and coffee shops along the way.
The dedication and discipline of our crew was a source of real pride. We had plenty of disagreements along the way. We made mistakes and learned from them. But most importantly, our internal issues stayed internal. This wasn’t about getting along to go along; it was about staying true to our higher calling.
My co-editors are some great people. We’ve bonded with each other despite our differences. We did something good and did it for a serious amount of time.
Along the way we attracted a stable of terrific contributors, who educated and informed all of us on topics large and small. They brought progressive history out of the shadows, turned over a few stones hiding present-day misdeeds, and preserved some moments that might have been otherwise lost.
Readers sent in more than 32,000 comments. We learned early on the importance of keeping those spaces sane and safe; statements aimed at inflaming anger, calling people names, and just being plain rude usually (again, we made some mistakes along the way) landed in the trash can.
Perhaps the biggest challenge was selling people on the concept of San Diego Free Press as a platform. Some folks, like 350.org and the ACLU, got it and contributed regularly. Thanks to all of you.
I am most proud of the work we did in becoming a place for people to learn about activist events and educate themselves before voting. It speaks volumes that our weekly progressive calendar and voter guides consistently drew the highest traffic to the site.
Our decision to not monetize the site through ads or membership drives gave us a certain freedom and allowed the volunteer editors to focus on what we did best. The fact that we were doing this for love rather money is, of course, our undoing at this point. And I’m really okay with it.
We’ve deliberately left the door open for a future incarnation of the San Diego Free Press; the site will remain as an archive for at least the next couple of years. If some folks come along and want to revive this thing, we’re open to handing over the keys.
Personally, I’m ready for a break. I intend to read a dozen books, take long walks, and keep my ear to the ground. I’m hoping to find a new niche in the new year for my skill set, and am open to suggestions. IF something major arises (like what’s-his-face quitting), I’ll use the SDFP Facebook page to share my thoughts.
Finally, a big Thank You to all the readers of this column. I learned as much from you as I did in my daily wanderings through media-land.
See you on the flipside.