SFR talks with former Weekly Alibi editors Marisa Demarco and Margaret Wright about their new venture, the news website New Mexico Compass.

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Last week, NMCompass.com went live, bursting onto the scene with a slate of varied content—news articles, food writing, opinion pieces, a weekend-events roundup and even a dispatch from a New Mexican in Gaza.

Demarco and Wright—the site's cofounders, editors and contributors (on top of their day jobs)—both call the site "a labor of love," and say NMCompass will help fill the news void created since the Weekly Alibi laid off several editorial staffers.

"There's definitely a hard-news and in-depth and investigative news void that people, from what I've heard, are really eager to see filled," Wright says. "Not that people at the [Albuquerque] Journal don't do a great job, but I think the more the merrier, especially with the levels of corruption that I think are historic—part of Albuquerque's history, part of that area's history."

"We're also in the process of trying to figure out how we can wrap news reporting around local cultural issues, as well," she adds.

Thanks to NMCompass' adoption by the existing (but thus far mostly inactive) nonprofit Citizen Media Group, the site has come together quickly.

Demarco was laid off in mid-December, and Wright decided to leave the Alibi "within a day of that happening—and literally two weeks later, we launched," she says. "Part of what's really exciting about it, and what's exciting about the breakneck speed of it, is you feel like there's just a lot of ripe opportunity for people who feel a need for more in-depth, kind of hard-hitting state and regional news to really get involved."

NMCompass officially landed nonprofit status through CMG this week, Demarco says, and will start soliciting donations and applying for grants with the help of some CMG board members.

In addition to covering news and culture, Demarco and Wright also hope to make NMCompass a venue for training and mentoring new and experienced journalists.

"What we'd like to do is media training in rural parts of New Mexico that don't have local media," Demarco says.

In addition, Wright says, "We're hoping to serve as a hub for already-established journalists as well as new and emerging journalists so we can become kind of a training ground for people to possibly link up with people who are already experienced in news writing and journalism, and there can be kind of mentor/mentee relationships. That's part of our vision."

Demarco shares Wright's view that more news reporting can only help Albuquerque's media market—especially in light of the Alibi's decision to significantly reduce its news presence.

Wright cites that change as a key factor in her decision to leave the Alibi.

"I just heard from the management that their financial constraints meant that they were going to have to cut way back on editorial content across the board, just to try to stay afloat, and that news would be getting the ax almost completely, if not totally—and that was the reason I was there, and that's why I started writing for them," Wright says.

Alibi owner Christopher Johnson has not returned SFR's emails requesting comment.

For now, though, Burqueños can enjoy a newly independent and ambitious news website—and, Wright stresses, can help shape its formation. Visit NMCompass.com to lend your thoughts.

New Mexico Compass logo by Scott Greene, courtesy of NMCompass.com.