New Mexico / May 2, 2012 / by Gelb

I keep being told that our pieces are excellent. That our articles are well-written, and our content is great. While Bus 52 has taught us all a great deal and me, personally an enormous amount, I think the most valuable lesson that I haven't yet come to grips with is that of rejection.

When you start a project from nothing, it literally becomes your baby. I've had experience with this in the past with various ventures, and so know the disease of blindness that can settle upon you when you take the leap of faith to plough forward on an idea that comes with it serious challenges and reservations. You get hooked. You need to, otherwise your doubt will seep through in how you present yourself and the project to others.

I've found Bus 52 an enormous challenge that is extraordinarily stressful at times. This past summer and fall was spent trying to find a bus, raise a huge amount of money and have to evaluate two new people to the project that I had only ever had one conversation with. It was a stressful time.

Now that we are on the road, the pressure is sort of the same, sort of different. Coordination is a huge part, but a kind of stress that one relishes - a team working to find stories, plan a route, produce the story. This challenge comes with deadlines, goals, reports, analytics - data and numbers that you can wrap yourself in and analyze. 

The other pressure is a more difficult one to quantify. We produce excellent videos. We have been complimented again and again about the professionalism of our entire operation. We decided to stick to a schedule and have done so, never wavering from our stated goal of two profile pieces produced every week. We have broken down, lost internet, believed the project would end due to mechanical fault. The team has been separated, moved, put in difficult positions, and yet we have always delivered a story every Tuesday and Thursday since January. That is four months.

It seems like we have everything down. We have the planning, production, and release all down. Add to that - we are FIVE people living on ONE bus, and we get along! Who could ask for a better position to be in?

I am so grateful for our successes and am truly surprised at the amount of love and generosity that has been shown to us. At the same time, I am puzzled.

Where are the viewers?

As I sit here, I look at our stats - we are approaching 10,000 views on our YouTube channel. 'There they are!' I hear you say. On the surface that looks great. But to us, when you take the number and keep in mind we have produced over 25 pieces, that number is diminished, and the effect is less gratifying.

A small voice in the back of my head keeps chirping in every once in a while - 'Maybe people just don't want to watch.' 

It's hard to get people excited by GoodStuff. I'm finding it with my friends just as much as everyone else. I have 700 friends on Facebook. Most of whom I know. Yet only 190 of them have liked Bus 52. A fraction of that have actually watched our videos. Analytics and stats can be just as irritating as they can be comforting. 

Sponsors - during the summer and fall when I wrote a letter to nearly every company out there about Bus 52, I got probably one response for every 200 contacts that I attempted. Every once in a while, I would get a positive response. Norman from mingo Wireless, our communications partner for example, was so excited about the project and what we were doing. It gave me such encouragement. So too, I might add, did a denial. A denial meant that someone saw and reviewed the proposal. Denials were perfectly fine - it is the silent response from so many that conveys the feeling of rejection. 

We see often, the media chastises itself and declares how depressing the news has become. Good news stories fall by the wayside and people in the media sit by, throw their hands in the air and lament its passing, and blame it on 'the 24 hour news cycle' or some other outside force.

The truth is, they are part of that force. There's a lot of time in a day. Frankly, I think those in the media need to either admit their true purpose: to care only about ratings and stop blaming another source on their own actions, or else get with reality and look around. There is good news everywhere.

If five young people with no experience can find inspiring stories all over the place on next to no budget, then any major news outlet can stop speaking about who is cheating on whom for a split second and showcase it. Every time a 'Human Interest Story' is passed up, that is just another form of rejection.

I lead a team of very talented, passionate people. Their work and our pieces are amazing. We deserve more attention than we get.