Spring Break

A note to our readers from Maryland Matters co-founder Josh Kurtz:

Like many of you, Maryland Matters is taking a break for a few days.

I’d like to personally thank everyone for reading since we launched on March 1. I’ve been grateful for every piece of feedback we’ve received from our readers — even the criticism. I’m pleased to report that our post-mortem on the just-completed General Assembly session broke all records for page views in the young life of this website (in case you missed it, please see https://marylandmattersblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/winners-and-losers-from-the-2017-general-assembly-session/). That didn’t surprise me.

That article — and the conversation it generated — seems to me a great example of Maryland Matters‘ potential. Maryland Matters aims to be the leading source of information for government and political news in the state. We want to inform people, and provoke debate.

But if you’ve read us since the beginning, you’ve heard me say this before: We are nowhere near where we want to be.

We’re a glorified blog right now, while we aspire to be more like other stellar online, nonprofit publications that cover government, politics and business, like the Texas Tribune (www.texastribune.org) or MinnPost (www.minnpost.com).

Two related circumstances slow our progress: A lack of adequate funding, and the fact that we’re relying exclusively, for now, on volunteers to produce this website.

A lot of people who follow the Maryland political world well know me. So please permit me, for a moment, to speak in very personal terms.

My goal is to make this website a full-time concern for me — in other words, to make a living off of it — and to hire a staff of reporters, business folks and tech people to help.

Right now, I have a full-time job in Washington, D.C. I’m the editor of a publication called E&E Daily. The “E&E” stand for environment and energy. This is a daily publication put out by an excellent organization (www.eenews.net) dealing with the policy and political debates over energy and the environment on Capitol Hill and in political races. I also help edit two other daily publications in the energy sphere at E&E. With a couple of other editors, I manage a newsroom of more than 20 reporters. Those are enormous responsibilities. I work a very long day — and have three intensive deadlines a day.

So you can see the fragile balance involved in launching Maryland Matters. This is a labor of love for me. I’ve embarked on this project, with the help of others, because I am convinced there is a crying need for better, more robust coverage of state and local government, of Maryland’s delegation on Capitol Hill, of the upcoming elections, and so much more.

But the absurdity of this arrangement was brought home for me the other day, when I was sitting next to other reporters on the Senate floor in Annapolis, trying to listen to critical and interesting debates. My neighbors were able to give the proceedings their full attention. I was simultaneously editing articles on my laptop about biofuels, about the Antiquities Act, about President Trump’s regulatory agenda. Important stuff, to be sure. But it’s tough to drill down into the intricacies of the final days of the Maryland General Assembly session when you’re mind is several places at once.

Launching Maryland Matters before we had full funding and were able to unveil a full-scale website may have been a little crazy. But it seemed we ought to get started while the legislative session was going, and while the 2018 election cycle ramps up, to give people a taste of what we can be and to get the conversation going.

If you like what you’ve seen so far, if you sense our potential, if you’d value more detailed and aggressive coverage of government, if you want elected officials and other leaders held accountable, please help us.

The obvious way to help is with a contribution. But there are other ways to help as well.

As I mentioned before, Maryland Matters is a nonprofit. We belong to a network of nonprofit publications around the country called the Institute for Nonprofit News. The successful ones have a great variety of revenue sources, and we are trying to emulate them. But we are starting with the basics, by shaking the tin cup.

You can make a tax-deductible contribution to Maryland Matters here  https://cfncr.wufoo.com/forms/the-maryland-matters-fund to ensure that we can provide quality news on government and politics. Checks can be made payable to the Maryland Matters Fund and sent to Maryland Matters, P.O. Box 11121, Takoma Park, MD 20913.

If you can’t provide financial assistance, please spread the word about Maryland Matters. Do you know of foundations or individuals who might be willing to support us? Could you volunteer your time with technical, design or communications help? Do you have political gossip we ought to know about? Are you interested in writing something? Do you have ideas for ways we could improve our coverage? For regular features we ought to be offering?

Please get in touch! I’m at jkurtz@marylandmatters.org.

Thank you for your consideration. And thank you for reading! I hope everyone has a restful and peaceful few days, in the spirit of the season. Maryland Matters will be back soon!

 

Josh

 

 

 


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