For many of my FACEBBOK friends who do not know him, Joe Monahan has been a political blogger in New Mexico for a number of years reporting on New Mexico politics.
I have known Joe for 35+ years where we have had spirited discussions where we have disagreed and can still talk to each other no matter what is said.
Joe posts articles four days a week, Monday through Thursday, on his blog:
Joe is a solid journalist and has and has an understanding of New Mexico’s news industry better than most.
Many years ago, there was a Santa Fe radio journalist who has since past, by the name of “Ernie Mills” that had a program called “Date Line New Mexico” where he would say “a little birdie has told me” and meaning a confidential source, and at the end of his program he would “Don’t say we didn’t tell you!” and sure enough the things he would predict would happen.
Over the years, Joe has replaced Ernie Mills when it come to giving insight of what is happening in the news and with confidential sources he calls “alligators”.
Below is Joe Monahan’s February 12, 2018 post on his blog New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan where he saying so much more than what people have been thinking for so many years about the Albuquerque Journal:
TROUBLE AT THE JOURNAL AND WHAT ITS TROUBLES STEM FROM
The good news for the ABQ Journal is that the cartoon that caused such an uproar, well, caused such an uproar. It spoke to the relevancy (if still waning) of the only paper in town. The bad news? The cartoon again revealed the identity crisis the Journal now struggles with. Here are the key points:
–The state’s population is now over 60 percent majority-minority, with Hispanics making up nearly 50 percent of that total. In BernCo 65 percent of the population fits the majority-minority definition. If the media can’t stay in touch with that dramatic demographic change, it’s in trouble.
–The Journal has an aging, Anglo leadership which represents the demographic that is shrinking here. The publisher, the senior editor and the editor are all well into their 60’s. All joined the paper when the city was a drastically different place economically and socially.
–That’s not “ageist.” It’s just a matter of fact that keeping up with and truly understanding marked cultural change is more difficult when your point of reference is a world and decades away.
–The trouble the Journal is having adjusting was laid bare in the October mayoral election when for the first time they endorsed two candidates as they tried to navigate the new electorate that apparently so baffles them.
–The paper needs to attract more younger minority journalists who are tapped into the city’s new zeitgeist and who can bring the paper more fully into the community.
All of that is a tall order for the 125 year old Journal which was founded by and for the town’s new Anglo business interests who began to build the city in 1880 when the railroad arrived.
The Journal has adhered to those roots, catering to the local business community and quite often to the Republican Party. But corporate America has driven prominent local businesses from the picture and we now have the aforementioned demographic shift to a majority minority population. On top of that, the Republicans have been sent into hibernation in Bernalillo County, possibly for many years.
In other words the constituency the Journal is so accustomed to serving has shrunk and continues to shrink while the new constituency and its agenda is being ignored and waits restlessly for its majority voice to be recognized.
Whether the paper is even profitable at this point or being carried by the Lang family’s real estate interests is unknown, but just about all newspapers today face financial challenges. The current publisher–William P. Lang–is known for his business acumen, but according to one source who spoke with him directly, he does not have a deep interest in day to day news operations.
Rather than fight for survival amid even more sea changes that are coming to the state’s population and economy, this would seem a good time for the Journal’s publishing family of nearly 90 years to sell the operation. But are there any buyers? Papers in DC, LA and Las Vegas have all gone to billionaires who are willing to assume some risk in exchange for the power of the publisher. But there are no billionaires here.
The often brilliant and now retired public relations executive Lanny Tonning once said: “The ABQ Journal: The only newspaper that resents the town it covers.”
That may or may not be true but unless there is a reshaped agenda and leadership at the state’s largest paper what it says in the future–no matter how controversial–may be greeted by the silence that accompanies irrelevancy rather than citizen demonstrations and condemnations from politicians.