Face the State, a conservative-skewing news outlet that Westword named 2009's Best Political Blog, is no more. While the site's still online, founder Brad Jones confirms FTS has reached "the end of the road, and I will be moving on to other opportunities."
What sealed its fate? Finances, of course. "Journalism is a tough business to be in," Jones says. But pulling the plug has been tough, since "I think we were doing something creative and original."
The four-year-old site has had plenty of fiscal challenges. In August 2009, Face the State went on hiatus, with Jones predicting that restructuring the operation would take a couple of months. This estimate proved to be overly optimistic: Face the State 2.0 debuted in April 2010, complete with new staffers, including former Westword reporter Jared Jacang Maher, a high-profile contributor in former Rocky Mountain News columnist Peter Blake, and a mandate to be less wonky.
Since then, Face the State has continued to offer radio commentaries to a network of stations even as it syndicated content to publications such as the Denver Daily News and even introduced a print version that was circulated at the Colorado statehouse. But the project's donors, who Jones declines to name, grew restless, and with money drying up, he let the staff go earlier this month rather than be in a position where he might not be able to pay them for future work. "Everyone's been made whole," he stresses in relation to the crew, which consisted of two fulltime writers, a contract editor, a contract columnist (Blake) and himself.
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Since then, Jones has been meeting with past donors (who he declines to identify) and potential new benefactors to see if there might be a way to keep Face the State alive, albeit with less regular content and a much smaller payroll. However, "I couldn't find an arrangement that I saw myself involved with."
Jones isn't sure what's in his immediate future, but he doubts he'll jump into another gig involving either journalism or politics. "I'm certainly optimistic," he says. "I'm young, and I don't have young mouths to feed. So it's a good time in life to be looking at whatever's next."
In the meantime, he's proud of what the site accomplished. "Face the State evolved over time, but what we always brought to the table was attention to stories that weren't being covered in other media -- mainstream media or other independent media. The market has contracted even further, making the kind of work we did even more important, and I think the product we put out in a variety of different media was always honest, always well-researched. We came at issues from a particular worldview, but we always did so fairly."