Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Down The Wrong Path? Fresh Voter Poll Shows New Mexicans Not Happy With State's Direction, Plus: Will New Editor For ABQ Journal Mean New Ways? 

So how is New Mexico doing? Not so good, according to a polling tidbit found in the latest Common Cause survey on ethics issues:

Just three-in-ten voters--30 percent statewide--believe that things in New Mexico are headed in the right direction, while over half (52%) believe things are off on the wrong track. Eighteen percent did not offer an opinion. Voters in the North Central region (64%) and those with a graduate degree (70%) are more likely to say things are off on the wrong track.

The poll, conducted by Research and Polling, asked 495 registered voters for their thoughts.

Gov. Martinez's approval rating in the SurveyUSA conducted last last year was 36 percent, a bit above the small minority of 30 percent who think the state is headed down the right path.

And where are people finding out about New Mexico politics and the legislature? Well, a good chunk of them rely on websites like yer little 'ol blog. Twenty percent of the poll's respondents say they are blog readers. Of course, the mainstream media dominated with 58% relying on TV news for political info, 50% on newspapers and 32% on social media like Twitter and Facebook. The poll broke it down this way:

Two-thirds of voters age 50 and over say they rely on television to get their information about New Mexico politics and the state legislature compared to 49% of those under the age of 50. Nearly half of voters under the age of 35 and 39% of those between the ages of 35 and 49 say they get their information from social media.  Seniors (63%) are most apt to say they get their information from newspapers.


There's a new boss at the state's largest. Karen Moses, 61, who has been at the ABQ Journal for 35 years, takes over as editor of the paper this week as Kent Waltz, 66, who has held the post for 22 years, retires and becomes a senior editor.

The Journal has been undergoing significant belt-tightening in recent years as it fights the digital encroachment into print which continues to die a slow and painful death. The Journal's older readership combined with a tight economy are major challenges. Some see the paper in the years ahead reducing its seven day a week print schedule to perhaps four or five.

Others wonder if the new editor, in a move to build readership, will veer away from the agenda driven journalism that has put the paper squarely and somewhat unabashedly in the corner of Republican Governor Martinez and Republican ABQ Mayor Berry. That has caused many Democrats and independents to steer clear of it. It's not likely the conservative publisher is going to allow a major tonal change but Moses could do some welcome tweaks.

The paper's abandonment of adversarial journalism could haunt them in the months ahead as creepy crawlers that have been hiding under the Martinez-Berry carpets start surfacing as they usually do in the final years of administrations. As they do, the question will be asked: "Where was the Journal?"

Still, as the Common Cause survey shows, with more than half the public now getting political news from blogs and other social media, there is less reliance on the mainstream media. And, unfortunately for the Journal, that also applies to advertising.

Those of us involved in public affairs all want a healthy, vibrant and balanced daily newspaper but when journalism presented as objective reality is actually being shaped to bolster a particular political agenda the product becomes less valuable and relevant.


Senator Martin Heinrich gave a speech to the state House and Senate Monday:

It is long past time to put our Permanent Fund to work for early childhood education. . . Inaction is moral failure for a state with the third largest permanent fund ($15 billion) in the country and far too many children who show up to their first day of kindergarten without the skills they need to succeed. . . A failure to invest in early childhood education compounds the problem of poverty we all know must be addressed. 

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