Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Post 500...two questions answered.

When aShortChronicle ramped up a little more than 4 years ago, where it would go was a big question mark.  I honestly had no idea.

Would anyone read?  Would I have the stamina or commitment to keep this thing going?

Those were questions that didn't have answers - yet.  Now, after recently passing 500 posts, the answer to both questions would appear to be "yes".  That's been a pleasant surprise to yours truly on both counts.

It's interesting though how both of those answers came about.  The answer to the second question came first.  The answer to the first question came in large part due to things outside my control.

Finding things to write about has turned out not to be an issue.  Politics may seem to be an exercise in randomness, but actually it's very scheduled.  There are election cycles at various levels of government.  Shedules exist for campaign finance reports.  Budget season occurs with known time frames.  Dates for Legislative sessions are known well in advance.

Throw in the near constant stream of craziness (much of which appears random but really isn't) that occurs at all levels of government, and there is more than enough to fill endless blog posts.  The challenge is finding time to do it.

Coffee and sleep deprivation help with that.

But, would anybody read?

For the first three and a half years, it was about what I expected.  Not many more people than a few activists, local government types, and some news junkies were regular readers.

Did that make it worthwhile?  I'd like to think it did.  There were a few examples here and there which seemed to say the overall message was getting through.
  • Davidson abandoned the idea of 4-year staggered terms.  That was a hot button issue for the site early on.
  • The town has done a better job at being more transparent.  One example, almost all meetings are live streamed.  That's an idea we've championed for a good while.
  • More broadly, many of the stories written on the I77 HOT Lanes project have received thousands of hits.  Certainly, some points raised in those posts have seeped into the larger conversation.
Those types of little wins do make it worth it I think.

But again, would people read?

The answer to that is now "yes", but the events behind that largely occurred outside my control.

First, about 18 months ago Craig Moon who owns Lake Norman Publications asked me if I'd be interested in doing a weekly column to appear in the Herald Weekly (and sometimes the Mooresville Weekly and Denver Weekly as well).  It was an interesting proposition, and I am glad I jumped at it.

Moon told me this when we were discussing the idea.  Some people will like what you write and will read every week.  Some will hate it, but they will read every week just to see what you said.  Either way.  They still read.

The paper has been great to work with over what is now a pretty significant amount of time.  People often ask if the paper tells me what to write.  The answer to that is a resounding "no".  In fact they've never told me what to write or that I couldn't write about a topic.  They've printed every colimn I've sent into them - even ones I thought they might not.

One thing is interesting about the paper though.  It did not impact the blog readership much.  I thought it might, but it didn't.

What has impacted blog readership over the past year were two other cyberspace events - shutting down last May and the explosion of the Exit 28 Ridiculousness (E28R) Facebook group.

When ceased publishing, aShortChronicle saw a big uptick.  People needed their online news fix and some must have gotten it from the blog.  I once spoke to David Boraks about covering Davidson town hall.  He said those were not DNNs most widely read stories, but I guess those who were reading them landed here - at least some of them.

E28R with over 6,000 members provided a ready made readership for a lot of the stories featured here.  Obviously, the most important topic has been the I77 HOT lanes, but that group also has lots of people who are passionate about impactimg local politics.  Many of the stories about government shenanigans of all types are well received.

So, what's the point of this now too long post.  I guess it's this.

Find something you are passionate about doing. Pursue it with goals but no expectations of an outcome, and good things will likely happen along the way.

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