By Denise Tessier
Politicians are working to divide us. Other groups are doing it. Many in the media are doing it.
In the power struggle that is the game of politics, they exaggerate our differences and ignore one key fact: What we have in common is greater than our differences.
With those parting words, Las Cruces-based journalist Heath Haussamen Sunday announced the shutting down of his on-line news site, NMPolitics.net, after nearly seven years of publication.
Haussamen announced at the end of August he was trying to find for the highly respected news site a buyer who would continue the site’s “journalistic integrity and its nonpartisan focus.” But for various reasons, a sale had not been consummated:
Some journalists considered it but passed for various reasons. Two newspapers thought about it but decided the site’s identity was too closely tied to mine. In other words, they think NMPolitics.net and me are inseparable. While I think otherwise, the decision was theirs to make.
And so, Haussamen decided to shut down the site that has informed readers and shaped opinion since March of 2006.
The good news is that he is leaving the site up for archive purposes:
Nearly seven years of work by me and others exists here. I believe it’s important to continue to provide access to those archives.
I think so, too, from the standpoint of preserving New Mexico history and because the site is an example of what quality local online journalism can look like.
And, as we’ve noted at ABQJournalWatch, Haussamen is leaving NMPolitics.net to devote his attention to another online start-up: New Mexico In Depth – a news outlet that promises to publish journalism in the public interest, focusing on education, poverty, health and politics.
In announcing this past June that New Mexico in Depth was in development, Haussamen noted that:
. . .funding strong, probative journalism in the 21st Century is a daily battle – one that more media outlets than not are losing. The quality of journalism in this country has dropped significantly. The public no longer views journalism as the noble profession it once was, probably with good reason.
Ever conscientious, Haussamen used his final column at NMPolitics.net to share what he called his “final two cents.” Those who have regularly read his commentary recognize it as classic Haussamen: a plea for politicians and citizens to work together and lay down divisiveness – and hopes for journalism to report it fairly:
I believe 100 senators honestly debating a policy and looking for compromise can come to a better solution to our problems than me or any other individual can alone.
But we spend too much of our time instead playing the game and ramping up the rhetoric as we jockey for power. As a result, we live in one of the most divided and dysfunctional times in our nation’s history.
I say to all of you – Democrats, Republicans and others – that we can do better than this. We can be better than this. I challenge you to be better than this.
New Mexico In Depth, Haussamen wrote, is:
. . .a project I hope will help cut through the rhetoric and focus on what’s most important, and, in doing so, help us understand each other on a deeper level.
Understanding is the key to respect and civility, and to addressing our problems and creating a better society.
If we value our society and our future, developing a deeper understanding of each other is not optional.
He closed by also saying he hoped “NMPolitics.net helped some of you develop a deeper understanding of each other. It certainly did that for me.”
I think it did help develop that understanding, because Haussamen not only provided a forum for diverse opinions, but his site moderation allowed for civil public discourse in the comment streams that followed.
Thanks, Heath, for nearly seven years of solid journalism and insight.