throwing in the towel (sort of)

Brent Finnegan -- October 7th, 2008

This may be old news to some, but I’ve decided to dramatically reduce my activity on this blog after the elections in November.

Here’s why:

1) Time. On average, I spend several hours a day paddling through the river of feeds in my Google Reader, reading and answering emails, parsing news stories for relevant quotes, and writing. Between blogging, working two jobs, and writing and producing independent films, I don’t have enough time to simply live life.

2) Pressure. While I generally enjoy news blogging, what started in 2006 as a fun hobby has become an additional chore. There is an unspoken pressure to keep posting new material, to stay on top of stories, and to seek out stories that “fall through the cracks” and don’t get reported (or are misreported) by local media outlets. The less that gets posted, the less frequently readers visit. Ultimately, the blogs that have readers are the ones that post the most. Putting quantity over quality is not something I’m interested in.

In other words: it’s become a burden.

3) Other obligations. I have several career-related obligations that take precedence over any hobbies like blogging. Being an unpaid local news blogger isn’t a very lofty career goal. I’m a filmmaker first and foremost, and I need to spend my “free time” focusing on that.

4) Money. I’m not getting paid for my time here. But don’t get me wrong; everything I’ve done on hburgnews has been out of a personal interest in new media, as well as a sense of civic duty to my community. I have no interest in selling ads here. I would rather not report news at all than potentially compromise integrity and spend all my time selling ads and filling out Quickbooks.

5) I’ve grown weary of partisan mudslinging. Election seasons are like the full moon: when it cycles around, everyone seems to turn into werewolves. We all have opinions, but just because we disagree with one another is no cause to demonize our neighbors. Don’t say something to someone online that you wouldn’t say to their face offline. I don’t like what I’ve seen the fledgling local blogosphere become. There’s a difference between propaganda and truth.

6) It’s time for others to step up. I’ve been doing this for two-and-a-half years. It’s time for others to realize the potential of new media and understand that they have the power and tools at their disposal to inform and educate their community. Join the hburgnews collective or start your own blog. Go to City Council meetings and local events. Use the Internet to share what you learn with your neighbors. It’s your turn now.

In the meantime, I intend to focus on the local races, and go out with a bang. I want to do everything I can to help voters make the most informed choice for Harrisonburg in November. If I can do that, then it’s all been worth it.

12 Responses to “throwing in the towel (sort of)”

  1. Renee says:

    “I want to do everything I can to help voters make the most informed choice for Harrisonburg in November.”

    I think that’s a great, honorable goal. I totally understand the time commitment involved in blogging. I hope others are able to step up and fill your (very big) shoes! Thanks for creating a great “alternative” news source for the ‘Burg – I sure appreciate it!

  2. Emmy says:

    Brent your commitment to this blog has been amazing and I thank you for it as I’m sure so many of us do. Hopefully all of the contributors here can help keep the blog going so all of your hard work doesn’t disappear.

  3. finnegan says:

    Thanks.

    Worst case scenario is that the blog collects cobwebs and dust. If nothing else, I intend to leave it as a database (a sort of wiki reference) for local news.

    And like I said, if readers would like to try their hand at news blogging, they should contact us.

  4. seth says:

    thanks for everything brent. good luck with whatever is next.

  5. Jim T says:

    I’ve enjoyed your blog and check in every few days.

    As far as your plans for the future, I understand the balance issue on several fronts. I can imagine that you have a fair amount of comments to process on these topics and that the nature of some of them can make that a tedious chore.

    I’ve known a number of bloggers in the “communities” I track as taking a hiatus here and there, I think about it myself from time to time. Maybe that will work for you as well?

    As far as this blogging community goes, I echo your thoughts on the mudslinging part. It is why politics is banned on Hawksbill Cabin – these are deeply held values and it doesn’t make sense to try and convert folks. And a respectful discussion of facts doesn’t always stay on topic either because of the endowment affect.

  6. ¡sorry to hear this news! hburg news is a great resource; god knows the DNR needs its checks and balances. we at the state blog will do our part…

  7. The Valley Progressive says:

    You will be missed. Your blog was often a sanctuary of reason and thought amidst the anger and name calling so prevalent on other local blogs.

    As for the time and pressure, its obvious that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into this site. Hopefully you’ll find that you don’t have to burden yourself with that effort and you will you come back when blogging is again fun for you.

  8. finnegan says:

    I might. I just need to step away from it for a while. Clear all the feeds out of my Google Reader. Go for walks. Go hiking. Travel. Read some books I’ve been putting off. You know, the good stuff.

  9. Thanh says:

    I think that there is a lot of potential for hburgnews to continue strong if each reader/commenter contributed 1 to 5 stories each year (I’d guess that there are hundreds of people reading hburgnews regularly), or if 5 key people took the task of contributing at least once every 2 weeks (that would be 2.5 stories a week), or a combination of.

    I that everyone should consider writing a post about what they see happening where they live, work or while out and about. What may seem normal to you, might be of interest to others to discuss or learn about – especially sharing community event information.

    I’d hate to see hburgnews gather cobwebs and dust.

    Thanks Brent for getting this wonderful blog started!

  10. Breslau says:

    I simply cannot express on the Internet how I disappointed I am, and even that is a gross understatement.

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