Friday, May 05, 2023

Big Changes at Indy Week


I've been contributing to both the Indy Press Club, to help support the work and reporting of The Weekly Independent of Durham, and I immediately signed up for a small monthly payment to the new digital magazine for long-form journalism, The Assembly. Both Indy Week and The Assembly have become must reads for me. Indy Week (and editor Jane Porter's daily emailed newsletter) has a distinct progressive lean, while The Assembly touts its non-partisan approach but has Jeffrey Billman on staff, one of the best investigators in North Carolina. (Billman used to be the editor of Indy Week.)

Kyle Villemain

Wednesday's news in Indy Week was that the two publications have merged, though the Q&A with Kyle Villemain, the founder of The Assembly, published on the Indy's website, strongly suggests that the merger was lopsided and that The Assembly is really now running Indy Week. Which is okay, I guess, but I do have questions.

Villemain is very much in charge, now, of Indy Week. In the Q&A, Villemain sez:

We know the INDY is a progressive outlet and we respect that. There will be some stories the INDY publishes that will make me tear my hair out, and vice versa. It’s good and healthy to have different perspectives at different outlets.

Our focus will be on ensuring that the INDY’s reporting is done at the highest level. The paper has to be a place that helps readers navigate where they live. That means local accountability and politics reporting, and a doubling down on arts, music, food, and culture.

More "local accountability and politics reporting" ... good! That's why I go there. But then Villemain sez this, which reads like the lowering of the hammer:

The INDY has to stop doing some things, so that its team has time to do new things.

We’ll be making the painful but productive choice of moving from weekly print to every other week print. That will be the biggest change. Simply put, the INDY’s team needs more time to focus on reporting, and less scrambling to get out a weekly paper.

You’ll also likely see a shorter daily newsletter, so that the INDY’s terrific editor-in-chief has more time for editing, and less spent on early morning newsletter writing.

Jane Porter's daily email is my first reading every morning, and I'll miss it, or rue it if it becomes so sketchy as to be worthless. I don't depend on the print edition, so I have to hope that digitally the Indy Week site will pop with new stuff more frequently than once every two weeks.

Toward the end of the Q&A, Villemain slips in a red letter of blood being shed to keep Indy Week alive:

We’re not doing this so that the INDY can shrink. We’ll have to make some tough cuts to stop the bleeding, but we’ve got a plan to grow the INDY significantly by the end of the year. The Triangle needs more reporters out on the streets, and we think the INDY can be the solution.

 "The bleeding." It's happening to legitimate journalism all over the map. We've got to keep independent voices, and I feel a pay-wall coming at Indy Week, and I will pay it.

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