Statesman Purchases In Fact Daily
IFD editor Jo Clifton explains sale
By Michael King,
1:28PM, Mon. Mar. 29, 2010
Big news on the local media and City Hall beat – online city politics newsletter In Fact Daily has just been sold to the Austin American-Statesman for an undisclosed sum.
Editor Jo Clifton announced the sale at www.infactdaily.com, adding, "I will continue to report and edit all the news important to your understanding of the workings of Austin city government." The newsletter, founded first as a four-page weekly fax publication by Ken Martin, eventually became a daily online journal; Clifton has been its editor for nearly 10 years.
In a brief interview with the Chronicle, Clifton said that the Statesman will manage the business side of the publication – working to expand readership, build subscriptions, and handle freelance reporting payments – while she continues to direct editorial operations, independently of Statesman editorial operation as well as its website, statesman.com. She has signed a contract with the Statesman, but "there will be no 're-branding,'" she said – "we will still be In Fact Daily." In her announcement, she quoted Statesman publisher Michael Vivio, saying, “We are very pleased to welcome In Fact Daily to our family of products.”
Clifton’s spouse is just-retired Austin Energy General Manager Roger Duncan, so there has been some local speculation that she and Duncan might consider moving elsewhere, or that he might take an energy-related job elsewhere (e.g., D.C.). "I don’t want to retire, it sounds boring to me," said Clifton, adding that she and Duncan love Austin, all their friends are here, and they don’t want to live anywhere else. She said Duncan has done some gardening and even discovered baking – "He’s baked me three pies since he retired." They have scheduled a "Tahiti vacation" in July – and she says the Statesman deal will mean fewer website shutdowns when she’s out of town.
Clifton insisted that IFD will retain its editorial independence while the Statesman builds the business. "Like all of us, they’re learning how to work in this new online environment, and trying how to do niche-publishing and online pay sites. They like our product, and it works."
"I’m still here, I’m not going anywhere, I’m still in charge of IFD," Clifton said. She described the relationship as though "McDonald’s bought a fish place – they’re still selling hamburgers, and we’re still selling fish."