by: David Chasanov, Ozarks First
After two and a half years, a small business news website in the Ozarks has decided to end publication.
Before Jason Wert’s mother died a couple weeks ago, they talked about his busy workload.
Wert was working more than 8-hour days in between two jobs.
“Before my mom died she told her best friend that she wanted her son to be happy, to not quite work so much,” Wert said. “And kind of made the decision for business reasons and for my mental health really. I couldn’t keep working 18-hour days. It was going to kill me.”
Wert ran Ozarks Independent mostly by himself. He created it to offer a free news source to a community where some people are in poverty.
More than a million people read his articles last year.
He still reports full-time for KWTO radio – a job he worked to keep the site going.
Wert says OI wasn’t getting enough advertising support – another reason for his decision. He has been in the journalism field for over 35 years and says starting your own news organization is unlike any experience he’s ever had.
Wert says it may seem like digital is taking over journalism, but the field is flexible enough to keep other outlets going.
“You’re always going to need to hold people’s feet to the fire,” Wert said. “As long as that need is still there, there will still be a need for television and radio even though we’re going mostly digital. That need is still going to be there.”
Wert says his favorite part about Ozarks Independent was having an outlet to share any and all news, since in TV and radio you only have a certain amount of time to share something.