We didn’t need a business plan. The last thing we wanted was for the Dew to become a job. It was organic. It would just evolve. No real guidelines. We just wanted well written and relevant stories. No fiction or poetry. And it had to be progressive.
It was pretty exciting at first. Watching the stats. Seeing people come to the site. Watching our rankings go higher.
Keith and I were sharing the posting duties. After a couple of months, Ron Taylor started helping out. There weren’t real rules, but it came to be that Ron’s shift was midnight to dawn. I’d handle stuff during the day and early evening. And Keith would tag team with either of us. Hour by hour,24/7, we were jazzed about the Dew.
Then the burnout began. It was pretty easy to see coming. Our ex-journalist writers weren’t posting as often and urging them was unpleasant for all involved.
We started recruiting writers from other blogs and using some creative commons stories to keep the churn of at least five or six stories a day. More work. Especially when you added all the time to set up writer accounts, adding attributions, and finding and licensing photos.
We kept going, though. What we were doing was important or at least, felt like it was. And writing was fun. Posting stories for other writers, wasn’t. Neither was finding creative commons stories. Or recruiting writers. Or doing the social marketing stuff to promote the site. Or dealing with spam writers. Or dealing with people who shouldn’t be writing. Or dealing with crazy comments. Or reading, art directing or any level of editing – that really sucked. Oh yeah, the technical stuff and dealing with hackers – literally a black hole for time. My time.
Soon after, Keith stopped writing. He’d still handle our Tumblr and Twitter sites, joined us for meetings at Manual’s, but the Dew just wasn’t much fun any more. Then Ron stopped writing. Then I got sick. Then Ron did. Then we started begging for help via email, newsletters and ads. We got a lot of promises, but no one ever stepped up. Then I got better, but Ron didn’t.
LikeTheDew.com wasn’t the same after that. I wrote one or two more stories, but I couldn’t write and do the rest. Frankly, I was pretty sick of how things had turned out. That gets us to today.
The Dew still manages to attract writers offering nostalgia and some thoughtful essays. Some of that work is very well done. But the initial vision for the Dew was a real mix of stories, including many that would focus on contemporary issues affecting the region and the nation. That kind of edgy, thought provoking article that can lead to reform and to efforts to make our region and nation better has been largely lacking lately.
We need writers willing to commit to newsy analysis and pointed political analysis. We also need people who are willing to take on the job of preparing those stories for publication and posting them to the Dew.
Like the Dew is more than a one-person show. It was intended to be a collective that requires a fair amount of dedication from readers and writers. Without that kind of commitment, we cannot continue.