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02 May 2018

A Note From the Editor: A Month of Festivals, a Bucket-List Item and a Surprise Business Trip

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The last month has been crazy for those of us here at the Coachella Valley Independent.

Brian Blueskye was dealing with all the musical craziness April brings to the valley—including those really big festivals out in Indio that you may have heard of. He also talked to activist and organizer Cleve Jones for what serves as our May print edition cover; read that at CVIndependent.com on Friday, May 4.

Meanwhile, as my injured arm has healed (trust me, folks—dislocating one’s elbow is not very fun), I’ve been busy with my usual newspaper duties. I also took a trip to San Francisco to see Jamiroquai, one of my all-time-favorite bands (that’s one thing crossed off the ol’ bucket list!), and I joined some of my fellow alternative-newspaper publishers at an all-expenses-paid conference in Whistler, British Columbia, put on by a company called Maven.

I have been in the journalism business for more than two decades, and I can assure you that publishers aren’t often offered all-expenses-paid, no-strings-attached trips to luxury hotels at five-star resorts. OK, it never happens. That’s why my dozen or so alternative-newspaper colleagues and I were baffled by the whole thing as we gathered—with another 300 or so conference-goers—in Whistler on April 11.

Over the next two days, we learned a little more about Maven. From the Maven website, themaven.net: “Maven is a coalition of mavens operating on a shared digital publishing, advertising and distribution platform, unified under a single media brand. … Dozens of award-winning journalists, best-selling authors, top analysts, important causes and foundations are bringing their organizations to Maven’s coalition of elite content channels.”

It turns out co-founder James Heckman (a veteran of Yahoo!, Fox Interactive Media, Scout and Rivals.com—and his team want to unite as many independent publishers as possible) content providers who have been burned by Facebook and Google’s ever-changing policies and algorithms—under one figurative roof. While the Maven coalition members maintain their brand, identity and ownership (at least I think they do), they share technology and distribution, and become part of one large entity that, in theory, will be attractive to national advertisers. Heckman told us that he doesn’t think small, independent publishers can survive in the online world on their own. Hmm.

Maven claims 90 million monthly unique users as of now, and wants to at least double that.

So … where do the Independent and other alternative-newspaper publishers fit into all of this? I honestly don’t know. I do know we have a lot of questions, and we’re working on getting answers.

In any case, thanks for reading and supporting the Independent. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have comments or questions—and be sure to pick up our May 2018 print edition, now available valley-wide.

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