and Benito Aragon
The launch of the New Mexico Mercury is the latest step in a journey that began at a community meeting in Albuquerque more than four years ago aimed at saving the Albuquerque Tribune. That’s where the two of us began asking ourselves what the media landscape would look like in a “one-newspaper town” with that paper having a decidedly conservative bent.
We began exploring ideas about a publication “for the rest of us,” one based on honest questioning and a forward looking and expanding view of what’s important to New Mexico and the world. We recognized in each other a mutual dislike of the current Punch and Judy show among worn out ideologies. We shared a hunger for insight and agreed to pursue it.
We aim to feature perspectives and analyses from New Mexico’s extraordinary community of thinkers, writers and subject-matter experts on the major issues facing our state and region. In the tradition of publications that highlight thoughtful opinions of potential influence, our content will cater to intelligent, inquisitive, socially conscious readers.
The intellectual and creative resources of our state colleges and universities, scientific and technological think tanks, as well as the richness of our literary traditions give the New Mexico Mercury a chance to transcend mainstream conflicts between the Right and Left. We’ll offer a regional meeting of the minds, a place to explore problem solving and shun dead-end bickering.
Our goal is to try to grasp the complexities of contemporary life in New Mexico unhindered by outdated notions of “balance” and so-called objectivity. We won’t be parochial. We’ll also look at events around the country but from a New Mexico perspective. With E.B. White in mind, we believe that every writer and publishing effort has a natural slant, and that to deny its reality is not only dishonest but hypocritical. Our slant is toward respect for land, air and water, respect for culture, and respect for the struggles of individuals of all ages and backgrounds in their efforts to live satisfying, secure, and meaningful lives. We don’t hate government, but we believe it functions best, as does big business, when it is under the sharp scrutiny of an alert and informed citizenry.
We believe in kindness rather than theory, in independent inquiry rather than canned arguments and “words of the day.” We are interested in exploration rather than lamentation. We are not depressed by the current state of the world, as troubling and chaotic as it is. We believe in the ordinary genius of everyone to get to the bottom of tough issues and predicaments, make sense of them, and heal what’s damaged and transcend what’s beyond repair.
In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, technology has opened the floodgates of content distribution to the public, yet sustainable digital startups remain few and far between. Our ultimate goal with the Mercury is to find a stable, and yes profitable, channel for intelligent local and regional narrative journalism. We’re no longer losing sleep over cracking the code for a perfect business model and we aim to keep it simple. We’ll offer locally established businesses and community-minded institutions a variety of ways to interact with a passionate, engaged community in their area.
The Mercury will cover a broad range of issues and interests in an effort to treat our state and region with the respect it deserves. These include:
• the myriad forms of environmental degradation that plague our state from industry, the military, nuclear storage, and weapons research and development;
• the impact of climate change on the ecology and our economy;
• the implications of extended droughts in New Mexico and the West on urban growth and sustainable agriculture;
• water law in New Mexico and the compacts and treaties that link us to other states in our region and to Mexico;
• the importance and dangers of extractive industries;
• traditional and alternative energy sources in New Mexico;
• the struggles of farmers and ranchers, and land based communities in an era of climate change;
• the end of urban sprawl and the nature of a new construction economy based on retrofitting existent, houses, public buildings, neighborhoods, and communities;
• health issues, including reproductive rights, and the threat of misogyny to women’s health;
• poverty, homelessness, the plight of poor children and the working poor;
• privatization and commodification and the commons;
• allopathic, traditional, and alternative medicine and healing practices;
• law enforcement, prosecutorial behavior, and equal justice under law;
• book, film, music and art reviewing;
• public education, higher education and its institutions, charter schools,
and efforts to privatize education;
• immigration and the plight of undocumented workers and border issues;
• state government, the state legislature, our congressional delegation, and the impact of federal bureaucracies in our state;
• relevant goings on in Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Utah, California and Nevada;
• New Mexico indigenous culture and its issues;
• acequia culture;
• invention and manufacture in our state;
• LGBTQ issues;
• women’s rights;
• local business as a part of local culture;
• unions, building trades, and joblessness;
• the built environment, sustainability, and global climate change;
• the impact of U.S. Supreme Court and New Mexico Supreme Court cases;
• the impact of national trends in culture and technology on New Mexico.
New Mexico is a microcosm of the world, reflecting global issues in its own unique way like all localities do. New Mexico Mercury's focus on our home ground reflects our conviction that not only is all politics local, but all environmental, health, social, and cultural issues as well. While national news and gossip trump local coverage across the nation, homegrown news is growing in power once again as more and more people realize that issues vital to their well-being are out of sight and out of mind. Going deep into local issues can be aided by service-oriented local media driven by community concern and involvement. The Mercury's community will be the source of its strength, its insight, and its influence.