Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes… The Vanguard Grows and Now Changes

By David M. Greenwald

It is year 15 of the Vanguard.  As most of my long-term readers know, we have undergone tremendous growth and change.  When I started this in 2006, we were on free blogger software, it was me working out of my home—I wrote the articles, published them, and went back to sleep for a few hours.

Some changes came quickly—some changes came slowly over time.  Even before we headed into the pandemic, the nature of the Vanguard had evolved.  But since March 2020, we have undergone rapid, explosive growth.

In the fall it was the Vanguard at UC Davis, this week we launched our Berkeley and Los Angeles projects, we expanded our San Francisco Project, we have our COVID Behind Bars, SB 1437 and a Wrongful Convictions project.  And now…  maybe, San Diego.

Since the power came back on, for whatever reason, it has been non-stop—web meetings, podcasts, webinars, trainings, presentations, check-ins with our dozens of interns, meetings with our teams across the state.

Someone asked us to cover a press conference—in person at the Capitol last week—and I realized I couldn’t do it.  Couldn’t cancel everything to get out of the office for a few hours.  Didn’t have anyone to do it either.

I am no longer a reporter—I’m an editor, manager, perhaps publisher and business person.  We have to change our structure.  The great news is that this was a realization, but not really a shocking change.

So for me that means… less first-hand reporting, more focus on analysis and commentary.

It means we will in the short-term have some freelancers and in the longer-term hire a reporter to cover regional needs.

I also realized this weekend, as much as I enjoy sparring with the other commenters, I can’t do it anymore.  Too much time, too much going on.  So I will step back from doing that.  Might post updates or clarifications to the story, but the everyday engagement is going to have to go.

Finally, I was looking at the articles generating a lot of comments and, once again, saw a small group of people posting a lot of comments—most of them meandered quickly off topic and lacked a ton of substance.

So, starting this week, we are going to go back to implementing a limitation on comments per article—five comments per article per commenter.  Of course, with nearly 20 articles today, that is still 100 comments per person a day.  But we have to start somewhere.  People keep pointing out that no one wants to wade into the arena if they see 20 comments by five people barking at each other.

We are also in the preliminary stages of looking at new web designs—designs that allow people to find the content that they want much more easily while opening up the site to a far broader audience.

A lot more changes are coming.  We will see how these work.

Thanks for reading.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    This is as I predicted, with the Vanguard becoming less of a local blog (and with less focus on commenters). For what it’s worth, I welcome that change, as I’ll probably pay less-attention to it.

    The issues that the Vanguard primarily focuses on are not necessarily local issues (e.g., criminal justice reform, court cases, etc.). As such, the expansion to other cities makes sense.

    It is becoming more of a regular “business” model, as well.

  2. David Greenwald

    The goal is still five to seven local – Davis/ Yolo County stories a day.  That’s more than we have ever done and I believe more than any other media source.

    1. Ron Oertel

      I would think that there will be some changes regarding that as well, with less direct involvement from you.  Probably differing/changing quality levels, as well – as short-term writers move on.

      For what it’s worth, you are kind of the “lightening rod” which creates a lot of the local “interest”.

      When student write an article, it’s harder to get “worked up” about it (even if written with quality).

  3. Keith Olsen

    So, starting this week, we are going to go back to implementing a limitation on comments per article—five comments per article per commenter.

    Will this take into account moderator deleted comments?

    1. Ron Oertel

      If the new direction is successful, I suspect that the name may ultimately change.

      Davis is too limiting of a market, for this type of goal.

      Now, whether or not David keeps it as some kind of weird “hybrid” remains to be seen. Presumably, that hybrid would consist of a broad range of local issues (written primarily by UCD students), but a narrow/focused range of issues beyond Davis (written by those from across the state).

      Criminal justice reform meets the definition of the latter.

  4. Alan Miller

    Of course, with nearly 20 articles today, that is still 100 comments per person a day.

    Something wrong with that math.  I’d guess most comment crustaceans only read 2-5 articles per day.

    We are also in the preliminary stages of looking at new web designs—designs that allow people to find the content that they want much more easily while opening up the site to a far broader audience.

    The current format certainly isn’t working anymore.  For the comments, I hope the new format has a feature that lets you know you were responded to or your comment was deleted.  And a new sh*tclock would help.

    1. Bill Marshall

      It’s the “new math”… another example:

      … implementing a limitation on comments per article—five comments per article per commenter… 

      People keep pointing out that no one wants to wade into the arena if they see 20 comments by five people barking at each other.

      “Old math” was  5 X 5 = 25.

  5. Alan Miller

    I also realized this weekend, as much as I enjoy sparring with the other commenters, I can’t do it anymore.

    I also realized this weekend, as much as I “enjoy” the Vanguard, I can’t read it anymore 😐

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