Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Owen

Everything but tech support.
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0552, 11 Jun 24

The Conley Column Ends

If you were coming here today to read my latest weekly column for the Washington County Daily News, I’m sorry to disappoint you. My time as a columnist for Conley Media has come to an end. Last week’s column was my final one.

The reason is simple. Money. It is no secret that traditional newspapers have suffered greatly in the internet age. With so many outlets for news, people have moved away from traditional local newspapers and their revenue has, consequently, suffered. And so, Conley has cut back on their budget for freelance writers like me and my column has been cut.

It’s been a helluva run and I am immensely appreciative to Conley. Jed and I started this blog in 2003. It was before social media and at the beginning of the heyday of blogging and citizen journalism. It was a lot of fun and we built a substantial audience with some significant influence.

In 2006, Conley did something really smart. In order to capitalize on the popularity of blogging, they asked several prominent Wisconsin bloggers, including me, to write a weekly column for them. I initially chaffed at the notion of a deadline and an editor. After all, blogging offers unlimited freedom of content and form. But I accepted the offer and figured I could always quit if it became onerous.

The column proved to be a joy. I came to appreciate the discipline of writing every week. I really tried to keep the column focused on state or local issues. There are plenty of other writers who write about national and international issues. My thought was that the readers of Conley’s papers wanted to read about home. My editors over the years (sans one) allowed me immense latitude and kept me honest on facts. They occasionally nudged me on tone, but never on content. A special shoutout to my editor of the past several years, Brian Huber, for his guidance and support.

I also enjoyed the column because it afforded me the opportunity to have a conversation with a different audience than this blog. There is some crossover, but they are different audiences. As I have put less effort into the blog in recent years as I have other life priorities, the column remained a weekly commitment. I believe I am the last remaining blogger columnist from that era. The others dropped off long ago for various reasons. Perhaps the death of my column will breathe new life into this blog. Perhaps not. Don’t get your hopes up.

All told, I wrote every week except for two. Once I missed my deadline because I broke my collar bone. I forget why I missed the other time. In total, I wrote 954 columns, or roughly 670,000 words over 18 years and 4 months from February 7, 2006, to June 4, 2024. The column ran every Tuesday in the Washington County Daily News, nee West Bend Daily News, and was regularly republished in other Conley newspapers around the state as they saw fit.

Thank you to all of the people who read and enjoyed (or hated) the column for the last almost two decades. And thank you to the good folks at Conley Media for publishing my work for so long. It was fun to write. I enjoyed the conversation. I hope y’all did too.

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0552, 11 June 2024

2 Comments

  1. Tuerqas

    I will miss them. I have enjoyed your columns over the years.

  2. MjM

    A heckuva run, Owen. Congrats.

    And a bit sad at a right-side voice getting turned off, even if just in a local sphere.

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