My favorite year

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I’ve learned a lot about running a website this past year, but I know you really don’t want to know about any of that behind-the-scenes, pay-no-attention-to-that-unemployed-person-behind-the-curtain kind of stuff.

How about this? I’ve learned that every single day, someone, somewhere Googles one of these phrases:

• Naked women driving.

• Naked women in cars.

• Naked in cars.

• Driving naked.

• Naked in a VW.

How do I know this? Click here to see my most-read piece of all time between this and my other blog on Open Salon.

In many ways, it’s like I am finding myself right back where I started a year ago, when we first launched LivingstonTalk.com.

The site began after I was unceremoniously laid off from my job at the Daily Press & Argus, a job I loved, a job I did well for nearly two decades.

A dozen of us were let go on the same day as the newspaper struggled for breathing room on two fronts: one economic, one technological. These are hurdles the newspaper industry is still struggling to clear these days.

But, hey, aren’t we all?

When LivingstonTalk began, the Community News edition of the Ann Arbor News had just closed. The journalists who found themselves out of work there began to meet with the group I had started assembling.

LivingstonTalk took shape with casual conversations throughout the summer of 2009, first in coffee shops and then around my dining room table, with a cast of participants that shape-shifted throughout. In the end, 20 of us — unemployed journalists, freelance writers, community luminaries and activists, salespeople, bloggers — launched the site.

Working with Stunt3 MultiMedia of Detroit and Switchback, an Ann Arbor-based web development company, we were able to launch a Drupal site. The relationship between Stunt3 and Switchback ended. That’s when I took over LivingstonTalk. I now own and operate the site myself.

It took me nearly a month, but I built the “new and improved” LivingstonTalk, as I call it, using the amazingly elegant and beautiful WordPress. The site also has a new host, a new look and a new attitude.

Buddy Moorehouse, with whom I’ve worked in one capacity or another for nearly two decades, continues to write for LivingstonTalk, but he’s also been busy producing documentary films, including “The Girl in Centerfield,” and “The Legend of Pinky Deras,” which was shown on WXYZ-TV recently.

I build websites, blog and do freelance writing, but my heart lies with LivingstonTalk, and I’ve worked hard to get the site going these past two months.

If you enjoy the site and would like to give LivingstonTalk a birthday gift, consider these shameless website-promoting suggestions:

• Like us. Really, really like us. On Facebook. Click here!

• Become a registered user. Doing so may qualify you for some great prizes someday, maybe. Click here. If you are not a registered user, there will be a black tab in the upper right corner of the site that says, “Hello Guest.” If you click on that tab, the registration form will appear.

• Start your day off knowing all about the new stuff on LivingstonTalk by subscribing to our newsletter. Click here. There is a subscription sign-up box in the right-hand column.

• Blog. It’s easy, and it’s a lot of fun. To find out more, click here.

• Keep reading.

For years, every Sunday, rain or shine, whether I wrote pearls or crap, my column ran in the Daily Press & Argus. That’s how it is at newspapers — certain space is allotted for certain things. The column didn’t need to be good to be published; it just needed to be written because the space had to be sold or filled.

After I was evicted from my “space,” I had no idea whether there was an audience for my work outside my former newspaper.

Then I posted my first blog piece titled “Life After Newspapers” on Open Salon, a national blog site. If you’re interested, you can read it by clicking here.

That first post became an editor’s pick and led the site for the day. I learned there was, indeed, a place for me in the competitive writing world; I didn’t need a job and a guaranteed column spot to continue practicing my craft.

The truth is, if I hadn’t started blogging the day after I lost my job, I might not be here today, shamelessly plugging my beloved LivingstonTalk.

Thanks for helping me learn that there is life after newspapers.

About Maria Stuart 212 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse. You can check out her website by clicking here.