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‘Oh Boy,’ 10 Years Of OIB, Happy New Year And Anniversary

December 31st, 2016 · 33 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Lennie, Times

The Times profiled OIB in 2015. Your host fronting Barnum Museum. Ángel Franco photo.

How could this be? OIB enters 10 years of prying open the juicy stuff in 2017. Sometimes posters shuck open each other with hammer to screwdriver, but that’s part of the charm (or pain), a pearly comment followed by juicy rejoinder. And that’s sorta what mayoral aide Ed Adams referred to when The New York Times profiled OIB prior to the 2015 general election for mayor, “The comments are really crazy sometimes,” he said. “Oh boy.”

Oh boy, 10 years. There was no design it would last a decade. In the spring of 2007 I was a hard-copy columnist for the alternative publication the Fairfield County Weekly. The paper’s editor Tom Gogola mentioned the new online industry portal was called a blog which took its name from web log; short, irreverent observations that allowed readership input via a comments section. In my case, government and politics my vice, I’d write primarily about those subjects. I chose to call the blog “Only In Bridgeport” because, well, considering the unique nature of city politics, could there be any other name? Plus, it was the title I’d used for a book about Bridgeport first published in 1986.

The blog required, according to market research, personality to attract an audience. So narcissistic elements crept into the copy. Ya know, wake up, stub your toe, write about it. When my cat Stinky left me mouser gifts I chronicled that too. May 29, 2007 was the first entry. It was a nutty time in city politics–what else is new–incumbent Mayor John Fabrizi had suffered a support meltdown weeks earlier when he walked into a state courtroom to seek leniency on behalf of a sexual offender who was friends with his son. The Democratic political establishment threw Fabrizi under the bus in favor of then-State Senator Bill Finch who they believed could defeat party maverick State Rep. Chris Caruso in a primary.

And onward we went, writing every day (although the publication was called The Weekly). Bit by bit we built an audience that allowed for free and open exchanges and ideas. After a few months, Weekly management notified me that nearly 50 percent of the publication’s online traffic was driven by OIB. The traffic was not huge numerically but by percentage made the site relevant. The paper was owned by media giant Tribune and by the winter of 2007 whispers turned to roars about corporate media cutbacks via publication sell-offs and closures. I saw a casualty on the horizon. I decided to take OIB independent. (Eventually, The Weekly was shut down.)

The new site required a hook with a cool look, and a webmaster to help me maintain it. I asked long-time friend Sue Katz, a graphics guru, to design the site. Ray Fusci (full disclosure, my cousin) signed on as webmaster. Ray’s a Wesleyan nerd who’s also a gifted English-math combo. Ray is like the guy behind the curtain, the mechanic under the hood, making sure we hum every day. There is no OIB without Sue and Ray.

The decision to go independent came with much trepidation. If I leave The Weekly, will readers follow? Gogola was a pro in allowing me to notify Weekly readers I was leaving to create my own site. On March 12, 2008 we launched our own thing. Early on we had about 30,000 views per month. In 2016, we averaged roughly 125,000 views per month, not what big-boy news organizations produce, but a mighty audience comparing us to likewise local, regional online sites.

There’s been an evolution to OIB over the years, less blog and more on-line news portal. In order to build a larger audience, we’ve placed focus on breaking political and government news. Yes, some of the narcissistic analysis still exists, but a greater premium is placed on news and events.

The comment section has also evolved. In the early days of the blogging industry just about anything went. People posted under handles, sometimes multiple handles and even demonstrated their multiple-personality disorder by responding to themselves.

Many sites still allow handles with limited policing. We found a higher percentage of comments under a given or known name enhances the level of conversation without losing its edge. Most of our posters use their given name. We do allow for exceptions, such as a city employee who wants to participate but fears retribution for sharing information. It’s not perfect, we continue to examine ways to improve OIB.

Keep in mind only about one quarter of one percent of OIB readers actually post a comment (that’s about industry standard), but thousands of readers visit regularly to titillate over the one quarter of one percent. Editorially, we will continue focus on government and politics because trying to be all things to all people will not work. People encourage us to expand. That takes time, money, additional resources. We are what we are but certainly open to suggestions and enhancements.

OIB is monetized one way, through display advertising. Some sites beg for money, some monetize through pay walls, some via display advertising, others through grants, and still others all of the above. Until someone comes up with a better way to monetize we will continue status quo. It’s what keeps us alive. But if you know a fairy godmother who’ll fund OIB advertising free, send that gift our way. (Not the Democratic Town Committee, please.)

Thanks to all our loyal readers and posters. In the new year we will plan events around the 10th anniversary celebration. Plus, I have a new book to publish very soon, Connecticut Characters: Personalities Spicing Up The Nutmeg State. Stay tuned.

If you’re into new year’s resolutions, be it resolved to tell one, two, three, hey 100 friends about OIB.

When this started no way did I think we’d be humming 10 years later. So keep it coming. As for the one quarter of one percent … Oh boy! A special thank you.


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33 Comments so far ↓

  • Donald Day

    Only 1/4 of one percent are posters, that makes a Brother feel kinda special. Continued success Lennie and to the 1/4 of one percent keep writing even though some of you don’t have much to say (Jimfox, Steve, Maria, Harvey).

  • Grin Ripper

    I’m proud to be an “OG,” Original Guy, on OIB!

  • Frank Gyure

    Congratulations, and looking forward to more.

  • Maria Pereira

    Lennie, what was the post that literally made you laugh uncontrollably?

  • Maria Pereira

    Lennie, I am being serious. In the last ten years what memorable post literally made you crack up?

  • Steven Auerbach

    Lennie Grimaldi, Congratulations on your 10-year Anniversary. Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to be part of your blog before I discovered Facebook and Snapchat. I appreciate the opportunity of getting on my soapbox and playing devil’s advocate. My dad had the same trait! Best Wishes for another 10 successful years. Good luck and good health to you and yours and a most Happy and Healthy New year to all your bloggers. Most Sincerely! Ray Fusci, Thank you for the edits!!!

  • John from Black Rock

    I believe it. OIB really picked up steam when the staffs of the Finch and Caruso campaigns began using OIB to throw shots at each other. Those were the days of MCAT, SUNCAT, Blue Donkey and many others including John from Black Rock AKA John Soltis. Congratulations on a great ten years, Lennie!

  • Grin Ripper

    TomCat too! Lennie should reprise some of those posts. Some pretty good shots thrown back in those days. All in good fun. Where’s yahooy?

    • Steven Auerbach

      I thought yahooy was Robert Teixeira. No?

      • Robert Teixeira

        Steve, I will respect your request not to comment on any of your posts. I respectfully ask you to refrain from mentioning me in them. I will do the same. However, if you read any of my posts. I’m not responsible for your confusion. Happy Hanukkah.

        • Steven Auerbach

          Robert, just continue supporting Maria Pereira. I am certain she appreciates your continued support. You may comment on every one of my posts. I just will not respond. I will let Donald Day and Ron Mackey waste their time. I am sure OIB is thrilled you are back from your hiatus. I am. Enjoy your freedom of speech while you have it.
          Thank you for your Happy Hanukkah wishes.

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Congratulations Lennie, well deserved. You’re the true and best example of Bridgeport political second chance and redemption at its finest. I have moved, and yet I still can’t quit you. Wishing all a happy and prosperous new year.

  • Nick Novia

    Congratulations Lennie! No doubt OIB is “THE” news source for most everything that happens in Bridgeport, with perspective from many sides, inside and out! Thousands of us enjoy and depend on it. Now, let’s start clicking on these links!

  • Sunshine96

    Congratulations! They say the first ten years are the hardest. Happy Anniversary! Keep on blogging.

  • Hector A. Diaz

    Lennie, wishing you continued success. Happy New Year to you and all of the many posters here. I have found reading and contributing to OIB a great pleasure.

  • Rob Sullivan

    Congratulations, Lennie!

  • Jimfox

    Now that’s funny! Heckle and Jeckle (Day and Mackey), OIB’s two magpies. They use the race card as an excuse for all their ignorance, stupidity, arrogance; that’s their contribution on OIB! LOL.

  • Jimfox

    Congratulations, Lennie!

  • DavidDanielsIII

    Congratulations and continued success, and also thank you for taking the time to answer all my novice questions when needed, continue to be an inspiration with determination to the masses.

    • John Marshall Lee

      We await your first effort at writing a book, Dave. The community needs to learn some of the ins and outs of attempting to be a poster boy for community policing and public service looks like in detail. Also the role of the racial divide in the community and Police Department that has been observed, past and present. Finally, you can send up some sentences and paragraphs for what integrity on the job means when the governance world around you lives daily with self-service corruption as opposed to serving the public 24/7. Let the stories you have witnessed see daylight. Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Congratulations, Lennie! OIB is the best thing to happen to Bridgeport politics and regional journalism in the 21st Century! (I generally start my day with OIB, which would explain my high blood pressure.)

    I still believe (per our chats in the past) an OIB Café in downtown Bridgeport, where OIB contributors/readers could gather over coffee to discuss all things OIB, would be a big hit and breathe some real life into downtown. Maybe you could get Professor Katz and UB President Salonen to underwrite such a joint UB-Grimaldi venture by way of marrying it to UB Communications and Political Science programs? Just a thought. [But with such direct contact between numbers of OIB readers/contributors, there would be a need for a continual, significant presence of BPD officers, on site, during operating hours! :) ]

  • Lisa Parziale

    Congratulations and thank you Lennie for launching this ingenious site for those of us locals who get to reminisce, share opinions, debate and renew friendships that languished throughout the years. It made me realize how many friends and acquaintances I have, some friendlier than others, but with the exception of one stalker experience, I have to admit I would miss the rest if suddenly this social and political venue ceased to exist. I’ve always maintained your articles are more informative and accurate than the mainstream newspaper that circulates to those unaware of your blog. Thanks Ray for fixing up our typos and improper grammar. This seems to happen in our haste to reply to a comment while trying not to forget what we want to say; or while we’re in total anger about something that’s been said. All-in-all, everyone is great and in my opinion, well-intentioned, whether we agree or not. A special Happy New Year to my grumpy Andy and his great wife Pat. So sad we’re leaving this year without the iconic Warren Blunt. RIP Warren, you will be missed!

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Thank you Lennie for keeping this place going. I enjoy the banter and opinions of all (except for Donald Day that is).

  • John Marshall Lee

    May your run as “best site for local news” last as long as your desire, but at least as long as Mayor Jasper McLevy’s honest representation of the voters of Bridgeport.
    Thank Ray Fusci also for helping me get back on the site when technology challenges make me think there are parties out there who wish I went silent.
    Actually 10 years is not that long when you consider we’re not even at adolescence yet, as can be determined by the nature of some posts.
    You have encouraged some of the thoughtful to share their ideas, concepts, and wishes with neighbors at a time when the Hearst papers, tissue-thin at best, have nothing to investigate. Much easier to print what Joe2 wishes and ignore the plethora of questions that continue to be thrown his way without answers. Is that any way to govern? In those famous words I began using when posting under the name Beacon2, and which are often adopted as appropriate by other writers, time will tell. And a Happy New Year.

  • DougDavidoff

    Congratulations, Lennie. You are the best guide to what makes Bridgeport tick. You do it in the timeless best traditions of daily news gathering that govern good journalism whether in broadsheet, tabloid, broadcast or online. You get it first, but get it right.

    We know, as many old news editors would say, even if your own mother said it, you’d check it out.

    You know the value of spelling everyone’s name correctly and getting lots of names into print (er, electrons). You know for some people in the news, there’s no “bad news” so long as you spell their name correctly.

    Between your reporting and your forum for the commentary of others, you hold up a mirror to the city, Your mirror is large.

    You avoid saddling us with what an Indiana city editor of the 1980s called “KOFO”–the drivel of long stories that amount to “keen observations of the fucking obvious.”

    My dad served a decade on the Westport Board of Education, and half that time as chair. This was when each meeting was covered by a scrum of reporters from the daily newspapers Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford, the twice-weekly Westport News, the high school’s student media, and radio stations in Westport and Norwalk. From all this, Dad invented this rule: “You can trust newspapers one hundred percent of the time, unless you have actual knowledge of the facts.” This was his way of saying most reporters legitimately try hard, but sometimes err a bit or fail entirely.

    Lennie, we know you have actual knowledge of the facts.

    Finally, you afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

    Here’s to another decade of serving that calling and being a success in the business side, too. Do well by doing good.


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