LikeTheDewOnTheWebFour years ago, I was writing every day. Then we launched Seemed a good idea. My friend Keith was looking for a place to write. So were some of his newly former journalist pals.

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 died. 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. 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.

Author's note: Keith Graham contributed to this story. Image: The photo that inspired our masthead - licensed by at
Lee Leslie

Lee Leslie

I’m just a plateaued-out plain person with too much time on his hands fighting the never ending lingual battle with windmills for truth, justice and the American way or something like that. Here are some reader comments on my writing: “Enough with the cynicism. One doesn’t have to be Pollyanna to reject the sky is falling fatalism of Lee Leslie’s posts.” “You moron.” “Again, another example of your simple-minded, scare-mongering, label-baiting method of argumentation that supports the angry left’s position.” “Ah, Lee, you traffic in the most predictable, hackneyed leftist rhetoric that brought us to the current state of political leadership.” “You negative SOB! You destroyed all my hope, aspiration, desperation, even.” “Don’t you LIBERALS realize what this COMMIE is talking about is SOCIALISM?!?!?!” “Thank you for wonderful nasty artful toxic antidote to this stupidity in the name of individual rights.” “I trust you meant “bastard” in the truest father-less sense of the word.” “That’s the first time I ran out of breath just from reading!” “You helped me hold my head a little higher today.” “Makes me cry every time I read it.” “Thanks for the article. I needed something to make me laugh this mourning.” “If it weren’t so sad I would laugh.” "... the man who for fun and personal growth (not to mention rage assuagion) can skin a whale of bullshit and rack all the meat (and rot) in the larder replete with charts and graphs and a kindness..."“Amen, brother.”

  1. Writers, I am convinced, are born. I don’t think they can even be self-made. I am married to a man who works incredibly hard at writing and his writing is incredibly funny, but he’s never satisfied. He can’t leave well enough alone. So, he gets frustrated and, in recent years, goes out and digs a hole. People love the resulting ponds and they get done.

    Readers are much more numerous than writers. And critical. And, IMHO, have to be ignored. If readers don’t like what they read, they can just shut their eyes. If they can’t be pleased, there’s no help for it.

    People are variable. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Perhaps my standards aren’t high enough, but I think the variety on the Dew is great. Some of the scutt work needs to be paid and I’d be willing to contribute to that. So, tell us how much and see if we can set up a job-creator fund big enough to pay for the accounting, as well.

    If that list of writers on the left isn’t a fake, there should be enough, if people are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

      1. Yes, but will you tell us how much is needed? One thing I learned early in the Howard Dean campaign is that people like to know how much and what for. Why the Obama people keep asking for $281 is a puzzlement, but it usually prompts me to send a little something. “Ask and you shall receive.” That’s not a guarantee. It tells you, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

        1. Lee Leslie

          The reason to set up is not just about money, it is a setting something up that is real – a board or directors; financial structure; paying someone and the like – thousands per month – we could get that, I know. I don’t wish to run this business – never have. I have been waiting for someone to step up.

          1. It is very difficult to pass on a labor of love. Also, we have become so monetized that “free for the taking” raises supicions.

            So, since you’ve generated the good will, perhaps you should capitalize it. Draw up a an annual budget, solicit contributions for a specific amount and then advertise it as an opportunity to acquire and manage an ongoing enterprise. You could put out an RFP. At 72, I am too old. Also, I don’t play well with others. You do need an organization friendly person.

  2. Whenever I’m low in spirits, I look for comfort from Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (RIP, dear man) who said, “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” The fact you are earning scorn, ridicule and dumb-ass comments from the sewer is an endorsement of what you’ve done and where you are going. I’d be more discouraged if fools were ignoring me.

    1. Lee Leslie

      Thank you. I had to read your comment twice to make sure it was okay not to ignore you. While Dr. Thompson’s advice is laudable, the drugs and alcohol haven’t helped enough, I’m against violence, which only leaves insanity, which is where I was to begin with.

  3. Frank Povah

    Lee – it’s a tragedy and I know exactly how you feel. I am soon to return home, so bear with me while I find the time to compose one last, nostalgic piece. If LTD (and its protectors) endure, I am more than happy to contribute a regular piece from my homeland. Frank

  4. Eileen Dight

    I check out LTD most days to see what people are writing about, and find the quality of writing admirable. It gives writers a forum to publicize their work which might otherwise go unread (or even unwritten). It takes the region’s pulse, encourages the exchange of ideas and entertains. The picture editing and presentation are excellent. Ease of access is exemplary. Readers and writers would miss it. You should be charging. Think how little content there is in comparison to advertising in most magazines. I will gladly subscribe with a quarterly contribution. Please don’t burn out, Lee. Let us support you and the publication. And thank you for your huge input that has too often been taken for granted.

  5. Just trying to think way outside the box here, but would you ever consider a pay-to-publish model where regular contributors pay a small fee/donation to cover the editing of their contributions? Or maybe an annual fee/donation to join as a contributor?I think many of LTD’s writers value the exposure your site gives their work. Maybe it’s worth looking into how much they value that exposure?

    How about offering an unpaid internship to a journalism/English/PoliSci grad student to be an associate editor? That would be good for an aspiring writer’s/journalist’s resume.

    1. Lee Leslie

      We have had many discussions of such things, but our readership typically peaks at 3,000 visitors a day. If we could get to 5,000 or so, we thought it could work. We spent much more time talking about setting up a non-profit company that would act as a portal and digital ticket taker for a number of sites (, and others), but all we seem to do was meet, talk and schedule the next meeting. Assuming we keep this up, we probably will set up an 501 (c)3. As to the internship – we’d do that if we could find someone full time to keep the part-time intern busy and if it could be a virtual thing. Shoot, I’d even pay an intern.

      1. The advantages of a 501 (c) 3 are minimal. They allow donors to take a credit on their income tax returns. It used to be that if the organization didn’t take in more than 25K no reports had to be filed. That’s no longer the case. (Makes sense. Can’t tell without records how much actually came in). Having a sales tax exemption takes more time than it’s worth. Why not just register as an LLC to escape personal liability? The Secretary of State web page has instructions. A separate bank account facilitates the accounting, but you probably already have that.

  6. Lee,

    I was almost afraid to keep reading for fear of what your last graf would say. I fully endorse Eileen’s comments and would be happy to help ease your burden in whatever way you suggest. I’m even willing to send money!! Just tell us that you’re not going to close shop and go fishing. cheers

  7. Like David, I was afraid to see how the article would end. It
    made me realize that I’ve been taking LTD for granted―I’ve never once stopped to think about how much unpaid hard work it took to keep the site going.

    I have to believe that your following will continue to grow. At least once a week I send a link to one of your articles to friends that
    appreciate quality southern writers. I almost always get a “Thanks for sending.” Reply.

    As stated by several others here, I believe that your readers would gladly contribute to keep the show going―I know I would. Just tell us how much.

  8. Darby Britto

    “We need writers willing to commit to newsy analysis and pointed political analysis. “. There’s the rub. It only takes five minutes of reading or watching news for a wealth of material to write about. But, I for one, don’t feel qualified to take this on—not to mention it feels like those who need to read it won’t.
    I feel your pain and have given this a lot of careful thought and have come up with— bupkis. How frustrating to have put all this passion and work into an amazing site, and yet some chick is getting rich from You Tube by offering things like a tutorial on putting on makeup while drunk.

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