Well, UtahPolicy.com has been going for 15 years. At least that’s what LinkedIn tells me. And if LinkedIn says it’s so, it must be so.
I’ve been getting lots of messages from random people via LinkedIn, congratulating me on working at UtahPolicy.com for 15 years. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a clue. It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years.
When I started UtahPolicy.com in 2004, I did it because I enjoyed writing about politics and public policy and I believed it would be a fun hobby. I also kind of missed some elements of the newspaper world. So producing UtahPolicy.com scratched the publishing itch.
It was developed as a niche publication, which is really what a lot of other newspapers and periodicals are evolving to. It’s tough in the publishing world to try to be all things to all people. But folks still want specialized information.
Our target audience has always been somewhat limited – the public policy industry, including elected and appointed officials, business leaders, and all those political junkies out there. We became the first aggregator – one-stop source — of all political news in Utah from all news outlets. Now others are doing similar things.
Our goal has never been to do investigative reporting or to “print the news and raise hell,” as is the motto of many newspapers. I’m too old to want to hurt people and create controversy.
Instead, our mission is to provide news and information that people in the public policy industry need to do their jobs better. That includes aggregating political news, good political analysis, a focus on issues, and accurate survey research.
We’ve never done any significant marketing to attract readers (we just welcome whoever wants to read us). And we’ve never tried to sell much advertising (although we appreciate those entities who have asked if they can advertise). Zions Bank has been a loyal sponsor while staying completely hands-off regarding what we cover and write about.
I’ve never really made money from UtahPolicy.com, but it has provided some nice visibility over the years and provides a channel to express my opinions.
Like many publishers, I don’t consider myself a journalist (other than a has-been, washed-out journalist). I am mostly a communications and public policy consultant, helping clients with writing projects and communications challenges. I don’t consider myself a lobbyist, but I must register as such because I do (very infrequently) interact with government leaders on behalf of clients. But I very seldom hang out at the Legislature.
Oh, and I’m also a chicken farmer. (Anyone want some free-range, pastured chicken eggs?)
While I am not a journalist, Managing Editor Bryan Schott and Contributing Editor Bob Bernick are journalists and I think they will tell you I let them pretty much run wild – even though they are a lot more liberal than I am. As publisher, I do have opinions, and I like to express them. I consider myself a mainstream Republican and I take moderately conservative positions on most issues.
We continually want to improve our product, and we are very pleased to engage in a new survey research partnership with Y2 Analystics. We’re planning to do polling on nearly a monthly basis, which provides a lot of flexibility in topics we address, and we are able to quickly measure public opinion as news breaks.
With the communications world evolving rapidly, it’s hard to guess what the future of UtahPolicy.com is.
The old news media business models were blown all to hell by Google, Twitter and Facebook some time ago. As an aside, I think it’s quite ironic that the Internet enabled the decentralization and fragmentation of news and information, but then it has all been re-centralized as Google, Facebook and Twitter have become gatekeepers and filters for the world’s information and news.
News operations are subject to the algorithmic (is that a word?) whims of Google, and the ever-changing news feeds of Facebook.
But as an old guy, I don’t care much about what happens on social media. I’m sure we’ll keep publishing as long as someone wants to read us.