Left-leaning political websites such as the Colorado Independent and Colorado Media Matters haven't had much to celebrate since the progressive gains made in last November's election. The former's been hit with significant layoffs, and the latter pulled the plug in March, although its archives continue to linger online.
In contrast, Face the State, a conservative news site, has seemed immune to the economic downturn, continuing to churn out provocative copy and expanding its radio side project to eight stations earlier this month. But reality finally struck. Brad Jones, FTS' main man, reveals that the operation's two other employees, fulltime reporter Rachel Boxer and part-timer Kate Melvin, were laid off on Monday, immediately following the site's previously planned "summer vacation." And while the radio operation will continue for now, albeit with a few tweaks necessitated by the staffing changes, the website is on hiatus for an unspecified amount of time -- maybe for just a couple months, or perhaps until year's end. Occasional posts may go up in the interim, but for the most part, Jones will concentrate on restructuring FTS.
"Our intent is to make some changes we've been wanting to make for some time, redesign the site, then step back and relaunch in anticipation of the new legislative session in January," Jones says.
Since Face the State's debut, Jones has kept the identities of the site's financial supporters under wraps -- and he isn't about to start naming names now. However, he insists that the backers haven't bailed. "The people who've been funding us so far are still involved, but we need to broaden our base of support," he says. "We're looking at approaching folks and making sales calls, as well as taking a look at our business structure and making sure it's the one that's most appealing to people who might want to jump in and support us."
Does that mean FTS would consider switching to a non-profit approach? Jones doesn't dismiss the notion out of hand. "Face the State is structured as a for-profit company," he allows. "But we'll be looking at both structure and funding sources as we evaluate our business. And there are certainly a lot of non-profit models in the new media world."
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FTS' accomplishments in recent years provide Jones incentive to keep going. As he points out, "We've won Best of Westword awards two years in a row, we've earned national attention for breaking original stories that have moved the political debate in the state, and we've been a pertinent part of the discussion now for two legislative sessions, helping to cover legislation from a unique angle that I don't think has always been offered elsewhere.
"Delivering political journalism from our perspective is something that's necessary here in Colorado," he continues. "We think we can move forward the cause of limited government, personal responsibility and economic freedom by covering stories fairly, but with a clearly disclosed point of view."
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Finding additional angels at this point won't be easy, and Jones thinks his ideology only increases the level of difficulty. "Unlike some other players in this state, I can't call on any number of multimillionaires or billionaires to bail us out," says. "We have to make ends meet with the resources we have, which are more modest than those on the left." (Not that rich libs opened their wallets to inoculate the Independent and CMM against their aforementioned ailments.) Still, Jones denies he's getting a taste of karma payback about now. "I didn't take any pleasure in the downsizing at the Colorado Independent," he insists. "I have some issues with their journalism, but this is a tough game to be in right now."
At the same time, though, Jones emphasizes that "we're still very much in that game. I'm going to be on KBDI tonight talking about the DNC, and after that, I'll be working to shepherd us through this process. There's a lot of euphemistic talk when it comes to business decisions and the news, and I understand people will interpret what's going on here as they will. But we do have a plan to continue publishing and to get back to work quickly. Our existing investors are still with us, but we want to create a model that is more sustainable and draws from a more diverse set of investors or, if we change structure, donors. It's not like we're packing it in. I'm eager to get going again, full-steam ahead."