Two years ago I took over at the helm of BearingDrift.com as editor-in-chief when Brian Schoeneman stepped aside to pursue other goals. At the same time Shaun Kenney decided to change paths and also left.
Both had been pillars of the site for years, working with others on the board of directors, such as Norm Leahy, who now writes for the Washington Post and Real Clear Investigations, and Scott Lee who was our radio guy. Heading up all those was Bearing Drift founder Jim Hoeft who had retired from his career in the Navy.
When Brian and Shaun decided to leave, it started a bit of an avalanche. Norm relinquished his board position and also left, and that was followed four months later by Jim, who at that time was serving as Bearing Drift’s publisher, and a few months later Scott left “The Score.”
That’s a lot of changes in a short amount of time.
Meanwhile, I had been a writer with Bearing Drift (while also keeping my personal blog) for a number of years, and also photo editor. When asked to step to the top spot, I was hesitant.
At the very time Brian wanted to turn over the reins, my son was getting married and my parents were moving from their home of 40-plus years to an assisted living community because of my mom’s deteriorating health.
In other words, my plate was already full. Taking over Bearing Drift — an operation with 20 writers, a podcast, “The Score,” and other moving parts under the Virginia Line Media (VLM) umbrella — was going to be a chunk of responsibility.
Respected throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, Bearing Drift had been a leader in online writing for over a decade. During the rise of social media, the best and most talented of Virginia’s political writers became part of the Bearing Drift family to express their thoughts candidly and without censorship. And, I will add, without pay.
Shaun noted two years ago, “As print media continues to evolve in an era of digital media, the line between blogger and reporter has blurred to the point where only the medium distinguishes the two. As other columnists and writers follow in Bearing Drift’s wake, one cannot help but be proud of what Brian and the rest of the VLM board has accomplished on behalf of Virginia’s public square.” I wholeheartedly concur.
Since stepping to the plate in 2017, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster — both personally and professionally. Losing so much of the original talent was a big hit. The board reconfigured with new members … a new editorial board was pulled together … a managing editor was tapped … Bearing Drift’s IT guru remained, thank goodness. New writers were needed to fill the chasm left with the departures of Brian, Shaun, Jim, Norm, and Scott.
I just caught my breath while rereading those five names. What a loss within months of each other. I suppose I’ve never really stopped long enough to think about it … until now.
At about the time all those changes were taking place, Donald Trump came onto the national scene and our writers were not necessarily on board with someone who did not exemplify what our site, defined as Virginia’s conservative voice, had fought and believed in for its entire existence. We watched as he became the Republican nominee and then president.
For many, our voices were silenced. We lost one of our long-time contributors who left the Republican Party. Thankfully, he returned to BD a year later when I asked if he would bring his voice and opinions back to the table so we could listen to other sides of the issues.
At first, we lost our punch. How do you write when you do not agree with the Republican administration and the 88 percent of the GOP who fell in line behind him?
I have written some criticisms of Trump but to continue on that path was like beating a dead horse. How could I be critical of Democrats when Trump was doing the same or worse? The hypocrisy of trying to carry the conservative banner in the age of Trump was not lost on Bearing Drift’s writers.
So the past two years have been a challenge on a number of levels.
For all the ups and downs with my mom, who passed away last month, Bearing Drift has been my safe haven in the storm. Working with and recruiting writers, editing, and keeping the site updated has become a mark of normalcy.
Although writing has always been cathartic for me, I’ve not had time to do much personal writing since taking over at Bearing Drift. My writing these days is mostly political and technical and, even at that, much of my time is spent on the managing side of the desk.
VLM has been a leader in bringing activist-driven conservative news and commentary to Virginia. That tradition continues. I’m proud to be part of our group of volunteers who continue to hold an honest discussion in today’s political arena.
I need to write. That’s why I keep LynnRMitchell.com for the thoughts that are more personal and less political. I need to visit here more often….