A New Home

First of all, let me start out by officially welcoming you to Hillsdale News Now!  As you can see from the copyright notice at the bottom of every page, I've been working on this site for several years now... though the idea for a new news media entity in Hillsdale County has, in some form or another, been brewing in my head for much longer than that.

(By the way, ten points to the first person who correctly guesses the inspiration for the name "MaxCom Media."  Yes, it's a portmanteau of "maximum communication," but that's not the answer I'm looking for.  Best of luck to you.)

People are tired of waiting.  They're tired of getting only what the space constraints of a newspaper will allow them to be informed of.  They're tired of having to tune in on an otherwise abandoned technology to hear what came off of the AP wire.  And most of all, they're tired of Good Ol' Boy entanglements that prevent real reporting on serious issues.

When I first wrote Apathy and Corruption in the City of Hillsdale, I had only some idea of just how starved for information this area truly was (and in many ways still is).  The overwhelmingly positive response was not expected.  I was fully ready to be excoriated for what I'd written... and yes, that excoriation came from certain circles, too, but not anywhere near as loudly or from as great a number of people from which I thought it would come.  The original Blogspot post has over 850 views -- and more than half of that number came within the first three days.  That says a lot.

Quite a bit has happened in the time since.  Some of it good, some of it not so good.

Rick Rose is gone (good riddance) and the city is looking into the possibility of selling the electrical utility.  Upgrades are moving forward at the BPU's water treatment plant, which had been in the works for a while but came into the public spotlight after a power outage without an adequate on-site backup generator caused an estimated 70,000 gallons of raw sewage to be dumped into the St. Joseph River.

We have a new city manager after a search process that was so publicly invisible that the city council, in order to avoid the same outrage, decided to form a committee of the whole council in order to choose the new city attorney after Lew Loren announced his retirement.

And then we have LewLo's legacy: a blatantly illegal maneuver to move an election against the council's orders in an effort (which has so far been successful) to keep his daughter Michelle in the city clerk's position.

Mixed bag, really.

But the good news in all of this is that the city council seems to be making a sincere and significant effort to make positive changes.  Differences of opinion on policy and approach will always determine how successful that kind of effort is, but the goal on the third floor at City Hall these days increasingly seems to be acting as the resident's representatives, not the Good Ol' Boys' rubber stamp.  That's better than we could say six months ago.

On my end of things, I knew when the Lorens' little ploy worked that it was time to get this site online and growing.  I've already had to apologize a couple of times for my schedule keeping me from doing so -- and keeping me from writing articles in a timely manner -- and I need to make clear here what happened.

As part of living with my disability -- particularly numbers 2, 5, 6 and 8 on the DSM-V's list of symptoms -- I work with several agencies to find ways of, for lack of an outright cure, working around the issues it poses in my life.  One of those agencies placed me in a third-shift job for two weeks, and time management being a significant issue with OCPD, that pushed everything else back.

Make no mistake, I went into it willingly, having been led to believe that it was only going to be temporary while the agency found better ways of determining how they could help me in my desired field of work.  But as the two-week mark approached, it became apparent that they intended instead to simply write me off as "employed."  I came to the conclusion that I could not do this new third-shift, part-time, just-over-minimum-wage job at the expense of my true career just to satisfy the agency's desire to add a success story (by their measure) to the record books.

So I left that job, and I spent the week afterward busting my hump to get Hillsdale News Now in a presentable condition, functional enough to a degree that I was willing to let you come aboard.  There's still a lot to do to get it where I wanted it to be upon launch, and I'm continuing work on that, but I knew I could not let this go any longer.  This is where I need to be, and I hope to serve this community as best I can with my talents in both technology and writing.

Josh's Uncommon Sense will continue on this site from this point forward with the same goal as it's always had: to present my point of view on anything I care to opine about.  Much of the time, that will be local matters, but I do still cover other things as well -- national news, social issues, sports, science, entertainment, religion, media (I have yet to do any real "inside baseball" posts about media yet, but believe me, that will happen at some point)... if it interests me, I'll write about it.

But this site is about so much more than my opinion pieces.  Necessity requires that it be a slow start, but as you can see from the main menu, there's a lot more to it.  The forums are already open, and I hope to turn them into a place for discussion of not only local happenings but anything else we can think of to discuss.  There's a community calendar that I'll soon be taking submissions for.  I will also soon be taking submissions for representatives from local schools and businesses to submit closings and cancelation notices -- which you'll see the result of as winter comes along.  At some point, I would like to contract with one of the major weather providers for local forecasts, maps and conditions.

And that's just the first phase.  I want to expand into podcasts and videos: daily news summaries, interviews with community leaders, streaming local events (maybe even some high school sports?), video news magazines covering specific local topics and issues... the possibilities here are limitless.

We will be selling advertising.  That's something I'm planning on as well.  This site cannot achieve much beyond what I'm already doing without generating income.  I have to establish some metrics and gather the data before I pound the pavement, and that's going to take time, but you will eventually start seeing ads on these pages.  That said, I promise you that it will not be obnoxious or intrusive.  Unlike some other advertising-funded media owners, I actually have standards.

Through it all, news will be this site's bread and butter.  Not just news from the City of Hillsdale, but from all of the cities, villages and townships in the county.  Education news, reporting on the local school districts and colleges.  State news that directly affects us here.  Local sports at the junior high, high school and college levels.  The things you care about and need to know.

This is what I envision, and I hope you'll join me in making it happen.  It's a massive undertaking, and it's going to take more than just my passion to achieve the goals I've set.

I chose the name I did for a reason, and it's not simply because of the immediacy of digital media, though that is part of it.  I chose the name because I want this site to be the source for local news and information in Hillsdale County.  Print media has had its day.  Broadcast media is on its way out the door with radio listenership on the whole dropping like a rock and the Lansing television stations completely disinterested in this area unless something deadly or salacious happens here.  Those things weren't always true, but they are today.  So when this site finally reaches its full potential, I want people to look back and think that was then.

This is Hillsdale News Now.