A News Cafe is Ready for a Trim

Some of you who’ve been with us since A News Cafe’s beginning may recall our early days when the site was originally known as  Food for Thought. It was a basic blog, patterned after my opinion column published each Wednesday and Sunday in the Record Searchlight where I worked as a columnist. There, I wrote about everything from cooking, people and politics, to my musings about whatever struck my fancy.

It was a good life. It was a simple life.

I miss that life.

My miss is my command. That’s why, in the coming days, weeks and months you’ll notice some changes here at A News Cafe.com.

Yesterday Doug Craig wrote a beautiful tribute to me, knowing, like Deb Segelitz, that my announcement column was coming soon. One of the commenters asked if my health was OK. I responded that my health is fine – thank you – and that’s kind of why I’m doing what I’m doing now. The American way is to keep working until we drop dead from exhaustion, something I’ve seen many people do. Why wait until I get sick to make big changes? I’d rather make them while I’m still full of life and energy.

This site has grown exponentially since son Joe Domke created it for me in 2007 as a writing outlet after I lost my decade-long newspaper job.

Like Jack’s giant bean stalk that burst to life from just a tiny bean, the site grew, and grew and grew, stretching and reaching high through the clouds to reach that precious little media castle in the sky.

In the last 13 years we gained beloved, supportive advertisers and talented writers and gifted photographers along the way. We changed the site’s name from Food for Thought to A News Cafe.com.

All those lofty new limbs required that I climb higher and assume new roles I’d never wanted: publisher, editor and sales person. All were so far from where I began.

With each passing year, I wrote less, because my priorities required putting the oxygen mask on ANC’s diverse content from many wonderful writers. No whine, just fact, but we lacked the revenue to hire people to do those other duties.

I’m still here after all these years, and not only is ANC still here, but it’s strong and healthy and as vital to this community as can be. I attribute our success to you, dear reader, as well as smart, tech-savvy advertisers, and generous subscribers, and our tiny-but-mighty admin team, and an impressive group of contributors, journalists, lay writers and artists alike. Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

Sometimes the best time to prune a plant is when it’s grown too leggy. Otherwise, all the plant’s energy goes to growing all that green, which means less remaining energy to produce fruit.

Right now, at this time in my life, what’s best for me is to give myself the oxygen mask, and scale the site back so it’s a size I can get my arms around again. After that, I will let the dust settle, find my footing and exhume my writing voice, not just for columns I’ll post here on ANC, but also to dig deep to unearth the seedling of a book that’s remained hidden inside me all my adult life.

If I don’t do that, I will be so pissed off if I end up on my deathbed one day kicking myself for not seizing more writing moments.

With that in mind, I will trim the site so it can return to more of its original, more simplistic, less polarizing roots. Eventually, ANC will be less cluttered, and more focused. I’ll manage fewer people and do less editorial work. This will reduce ANC’s current bean stalk girth to something that’s more manageable, something I can take care of alone.

Visually, the site will appear mostly the same. However, some sections will be retired, such as the Convo Cafe, the Photo Cafe and the Weather Box.

Change can be difficult, terrifying and nerve-wracking. Change can also be invigorating, inspirational and liberating. And sometimes, change can be all those things at once.

I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited, too. I hope you’ll hang in there with ANC as we transition together to this new place.

I think it’s going to be good.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate, Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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