TNM at seven and a half: A few observations regarding the past seven years and the road forward
This site will be dark from June 23 to July 4 as it takes only its second scheduled siesta; should it reopen as scheduled, TNM looks forward to having more industry voices (yours) heard through this website address
There is no way I would have thought that I would be publishing Talking New Media for as long as I have. Prior to this gig, the longest I worked at anything was my time at Hearst in Los Angeles. That was a mail room to board room kind of experience (actually phone room to department management). I suppose this has been the same.
Back in 2009, before TNM had launched (and before the Giants had won their first World Series representing San Francisco**), I assumed that this would simply be a learning experience. The reason to launch TNM was to stay apprised of technology, particularly what everyone thought would be the beginning of the tablet era.
But things didn’t work out that way. 2010, in retrospect, was not really the beginning of the tablet era, but actually a springboard for mobile, in general. Yes, for a while it looked like tablets would be the new format for digital publishing, but what actually happened was that whatever was learned while publishing to tablets soon migrated to smartphones — and it helped that those devices got bigger.
For TNM, the life of this site can be divided in two: in the first part it was a Blogspot site concentrating on digital edition apps; in the second, a more general publishing site.
During the second part, TNM migrated onto another host and became more of a general news site — and with the rise of DJT, really would prefer to talk about what threatens publishing rather than pretending that the most important thing in the world is Facebook derived traffic, or who won what bogus publishing award.
When TNM moved off Google’s platform TNM traffic doubled — partially because Google, ironically, took the site more seriously. It led me to decide to experiment with a second site which would cover politics and the media. I bet 99 percent of TNM readers never were not aware of the site, but in its short life it talked about much that concerns us today: Russian hacking and involvement in the election, trolls and bots, propaganda websites, the growing hatred of the media as expressed by Trump supporters and Republicans, in general. I am very proud of that little site, but it was constantly under attack by hackers and trolls, and there was no evidence that the site could break through to readers to make them understand what was happening to the media, and to the republic.
It saddens me, but then again the site was only meant to be an experiment. It was shuttered just before the election because, well, HRC was going to win and all would return to its previous state, right?
July 1st marks the birthday of the new, self-hosted TNM. But TNM will be dark on that day as the site’s summer break will be occurring June 22 though July 4. This will be only the second time the site has taken a break with the plan being to reopen afterwards (the other break took place in 2012). Previous breaks have occurred when I took time off to decide whether TNM should be shuttered. That happened twice. This break is a bit of a combination break: a chance to refresh, and a time to reflect.
TNM traffic continues to grow, but one wonders if it really has a mission anymore. Comments were turned off recently because newspaper and magazine pros don’t like to comment on B2B websites, and to finally be able to free myself from the trolls who only want to curse the media (most coming from Russian IP addresses). At this point, one wonders if there is a need for a website covering the digital publishing industry, mainly because it is hard to say there is such a thing.
So, as we approach the break it is a good time to thank loyal TNM readers, and those who pop in every once in a while. Over a million readers have reached this destination, and over 10,000 posts have appeared. Over 110 contributors have written columns for this site since it relaunched as a self-hosted website, several others contributed to the old Blogspot site, as well. Several more contributors will appear later this week. Thank you all.
If we are nearing the end of TNM, then it is time to wish you all the best of luck, we are in for rough days ahead — both in the political sense, and the publishing profession sense. If this is not the end, then thank you for sticking with TNM, please consider contributing your own guest columns and thoughts, and continue to follow TNM on Twitter.
** TNM started publishing before the Giant’s first WS title, published through two others, and is still publishing now that the Giants are the worst team in baseball. There is a metaphor in there somewhere.