Happy anniversary to our loyal and growing audience. Ten years ago March 12, 2008 OIB launched its first independent post after spending the prior year under the banner of the Tribune-owned (now deceased) Fairfield County Weekly. We took it independent, in part, for fear of being a corporate casualty. Glory be, the more things change the more they stay the same. That first post centered on Mario Testa’s effort to regain the Democratic Town Committee chairmanship. This Thursday night, at his Madison Avenue restaurant, he’s poised to do the same.
Ten years ago Joe Ganim and Ernie Newton endured the back end of their federal prison time. Now Joe is back as mayor and the self-proclaimed Moses of his people is back on the City Council. Who knew!
The genesis of OIB filled a void to provide political perspective and engagement. That also included a comments section that has emerged second to none for information, give and take and critical analysis. Yes, it’s edgy at times.
Behind the scenes, off line, I field dozens of daily emails challenging my sanity for the latitude OIB provides the comments section.
“Mackey and Day are killing me!”
“Why do you give that Maria Piranha a platform?!”
“Fardy goes down like a hard boiled egg, followed by dry tuna.”
The Bridgeport Kid this, Steve Auerbach that, Jim Fox is bananas.
Hey, I get beat up by my own people. It’s the nature of the beast.
OIB readers are the most active in their respective communities: engaged, thought-provoking critical thinkers.
Voices: good, bad, ugly add value to the conversation. Also, it took some time (Yes, I’m a slow learner) but we’ve found that the level of conversation is enhanced when folks post comments under their recognized names.
The reality is our comments section is tame compared to other sites where just about anything goes. We are far more complete with one of the highest proportion of posters who comment under their actual names. There’s been an evolution in that process. For instance handles have been grandfathered such as “The Bridgeport Kid” because he (Derek Brown) does not hide behind that handle. Same for someone like “Mojo,” former City Councilman Ralph Mojica.
We allow for some protected handles such as a city employee who fears retribution for expressing an opinion. But in that requested instance, I must know the identity of the person to gauge veracity. If they use it as a platform to blowtorch someone, they’re gone.
The notion that Bridgeport is a Democratic city, therefore a liberal OIB readership is a fallacy. Audience demographics tell a different story. Yes, we have plenty of liberal voices. Mighty conservative voices too (paging Gary Tobin, Tom White, Ethan Book, Barry Soitera and others). Throw all the readers into a bottle, shake it up and it ferments into centrist stew with diverse points of view.
As readership goes, Bridgeport is the single largest community audience, but the combined audiences including suburbs and politically centric readers from around the state are actually larger. It’s a good mix.
OIB has had the same design since its launch. It’s time for a new look to keep pace with the changing times. Hopefully, we’ll unveil an updated face within a few months.
When OIB launched 10 years ago it did not imbue some grand plan. It simply centered on an idea to fill a void with the hope an audience connected.
Much goes on behind the scenes to keep OIB alive, including webmaster Ray Fusci, designer Sue Katz, sales director Joy Haines. When I’m not writing, gabbing with sources, trolling for info, I’m pitching ads. It’s what keeps this place alive.
So with gratitude, thank you to my audience, readers, posters, advertisers.
How long will this last? You keep coming, I’ll keep showing up.