A Letter to our Readers: “A Change is Gonna Come”

By KAY MATTHEWS and DAVID CORREIA

La Jicarita News began publication in 1996 as a hard copy newspaper immersed in the threats to northern New Mexico forest dependent communities: Forest Service mismanagement and malfeasance and the mainstream environmental movement’s attempts to limit access to natural resources. In 2012 La Jicarita moved online, expanding coverage beyond the forests of northern New Mexico and into urban and international issues around social and environmental justice. Now, in 2015, after a combined effort of almost 20 years, we are winding down our day-to-day reportage and analysis. But don’t go away: the La Jicarita website is still there as we work to maintain, and organize, our extensive archive to make it more accessible to readers.

One reason we’re making this transition is because of money. It’s become increasingly difficult to generate the funding we need to operate. We’ve had generous contributors over the years and to all of you we thank you for your support. We wouldn’t have made it this far without that help. But, in truth, the more honest reason for this transition is that we’ve basically burned out. After 16 years as a hard copy paper and three and a half years as an online journal we don’t have the capacity to continue.

During its hard copy run La Jicarita News was funded through grants and subscriber contributions. As an online journal, La Jicarita was solely supported by reader contributions so we could pay writers at least a modest amount. As editors, we worked largely uncompensated, dependent upon other jobs for support.

That scenario obviously isn’t sustainable. But those three and a half years were remarkable. This is David Correia’s take on his tenure as managing editor:

“It’s been an honor to write and edit La Jicarita. Often it’s been a grind. But it’s only when you throw yourself into a crazy grind like a community newspaper that you realize how important community journalism really is, and the impact it can have. It might be ending, but it matters that it existed at all. We’re grateful for the support of so many friends and readers. We’ve made mistakes (quite a few, actually), we’ve also made enemies (again quite a few, it turns out—they let us know). But we’ve also made friends and sometimes we’ve even gotten the story right. It’s been both the most exciting thing I’ve been a part of and the most frustrating. When we’re being honest, we admit that we’ve cursed La Jicarita as often as our friends have praised it.”

But after nearly twenty years of reporting on New Mexico, we’ve created an enormous archive. We think it’s time to return to that archive. From now on La Jicarita will focus almost exclusively on the production of edited collections of La Jicarita articles, essays, editorials, and reportage. We plan to issue these directly from our website as e-books, and, hopefully, also books-on-demand. They will be organized into a broad range of thematic categories. For the past few months we’ve begun to organize essays into collections and over the next few months we’ll begin to release titles that focus on New Mexico’s land grant politics and scholarship; in defense of the commons; the nuclear industrial complex; police violence; water management; acequia culture and politics; environmental management and regulation; and militarized nature. All of those individual essays will remain freely accessible on the La Jicarita website lajicarita.wordpress.com as well as the original La Jicarita News archive, lajicarita.org.

Kay will continue to periodically post articles about issues with which she’s currently involved as a citizen of el norte, including water transfers and adjudication settlements, threats to the acequias, and watershed restoration (a forthcoming book will document forest issues La Jicarita News covered in the 1990s). David is currently co-editing a book on climate change and the state with Christian Parenti for the University of Nebraska Press, co-writing a book on police violence with Tyler Wall, which is currently under review at a university press, and continuing work on a monograph about the life and death of Larry Casuse. That work will take him away from the day-to-day work of La Jicarita, but we hope to publish excerpts from those projects as they become available and then offer the books for sale on La Jicarita when they are published.

We want to thank the many writers (and photographers) who helped us along the way: Eric Shultz; Stephanie Hiller; Sam Markwell; Laura Garrison; Matt Huber; Nick Estes; Eric Perramond; Pat Leahan; Jim Faris; Don Hancock; Sophia Martinez; Suzy T. Kane; Richard Moore; Jakob Schiller; Mark Sardella; Jeanne Green; Marilyn Gayle Hoff; Akilah Sanders-Reed; Carol Miller; and Benito Aragon (who just told us the New Mexico Mercury is currently working hard to re-establish itself as a non-profit).

Finally, although La Jicarita is now in hovering mode, who knows what the future may bring. Resistance takes many forms, and maybe there’s a path out there we don’t yet know about. So, rather than “adios” we’ll just say “hasta la vista.”

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9 comments

  1. Thanks for the years of hard work and great reporting. We all know what a special place Northern New Mexico is!

    Will email updates still be sent out when publications become available?

  2. Grateful for your all’s excellent crafting of our wide scene in NM. Sounds like a good plan. Will look forward to reading the archives, periodic reports, and books!

  3. Boo! But completely understand, you’ve made great contributions to the state, and to all those interested in the kind of critical perspectives needed on resource issues in New Mexico and parts of the west. Like a more interesting High Country News, no holds barred.

  4. Thanks to Kay and Mark for starting La Jicarita and to Kay and David for keeping it going. It has always been an exceptional publication. I have been thinking and writing about northern New Mexico for about 14 years now, sometimes living in New Mexico but mostly living elsewhere. La Jicarita was always an incredible resource, and I was always grateful to receive independent news from el norte, especially when I was far away. Thank you for your vision, carefulness, vigilance, and persistence. I’ll miss the regular updates, but you both definitely deserve a break! Thanks so much.

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