Archive for July, 2009

Headed for Texas

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I’ve got a new home, both literal and figurative, for the next month. I’ll be living in Stephenville, Texas, from which I’ll host a blog called Stephenville Dreams.

The first entry on the blog, which is already underway, explains the genesis of this new adventure, but I’ll give you a short recap here: An old journalism pal of mine who’s since become a public relations whiz recruited me a couple of months ago to join a project on behalf of a Richmond manufacturer of pillows (among other things). Using the slogan “Sleep Better, Dream Bigger” as a starting point, my pal wanted me to set up shop in a small, prototypically American town and determine how people maintain their dreams for the future in tough times. Stephenville is that town.

There’s another story behind this project. This assignment in Stephenville will be (I hope) only my first effort at privately funded journalism. Yes, I know most journalism is “privately funded,” in that government money generally isn’t involved in news gathering. But what I mean is that it’s rare for a corporation that’s not in the news business to finance a long-term reporting project — which is exactly what my trip to Stephenville happens to be. My only instructions have been: (1) Travel to Stephenville; (2) find interesting things to write about; and (3) then write about them. Not only is Carpenter Co., the financier behind this project, not dictating the content of the site, I haven’t yet even met anyone from the company.

Needless to say, the thousands of newspaper reporters and editors who’ve lost their jobs in the past year hope that Carpenter’s experiment in journalism is the start of a trend.

Please check in and read about Stephenville, which I’ve already visited and found charming. You can go to www.sleepbetter.org (which has lots of cool stuff) and click on “Stephenville Dreams,” or you can get to the blog directly by clicking here.

And here’s a little bait on the hook: There’s a surprise guest in store.