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OIB Marks 10 Years, Reserve Your Calendars June 7, Party Time

May 29th, 2017 · 18 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

'A vucchella restaurant

Party time.

Happy anniversary. Happy birthday. Happy whatever you wanna call it day. On this day 10 years ago May 29, 2007, OIB made its debut. There’s only one thing to do under the circumstances: throw a party! June 7, 5:30pm at the delizioso Trattoria ‘A Vucchella, 272 Fairfield Avenue in beautiful Downtown Bridgeport. Scrumptious finger foods, first cocktail on OIB. Let’s celebrate.

In the Neapolitan dialect vucchella means small mouth. We’ve been privileged the past 10 years to have small mouths, loud mouths, foul mouths, witty mouths, insightful mouths. We’ve mouthed a whole bunch of stuff building a community dialogue focused on government and politics. Thank you for your loyal readership. Without you, well, I’d be a lonely mouth. Along the way we’ve built friendships too. Who knew?

How did OIB start?

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 2017, 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 on-line 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, and 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.)

So please join us June 7, 5:30 at ‘A Vucchella.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Did someone say, “Finger food?” Ten years? Too bad I can’t count that high with my fingers.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Joel provides witty, harmless humor with his secret weapon, intelligence. I served with Joel on the CC, but didn’t get to know him until this blog gave many of us the opportunity to do so with each other. For me it allowed me to reconnect with friends I hadn’t seen in ages, interact with others I knew but, never engaged with. And despite the edgy, testy, at times, comments and opinions, I sense an underlying respect from most bloggers. For the most part, over the time I’ve been blogging, I notice that we all agree with each other some of the time. That shows a commonality when it comes to Bridgeport. Thanks Lennie, I’ve known you forever, and you were always ingenious, special, and the best Bridgeport strategist ever. Well, maybe you and Joe Grabarz!

  • Jimfox

    Happy Anniversary Lennie , I do believe that a 10 year Anniversary gift is wood, so I sent you a picture of my Wiener on your I- phone.
    You can re-size it by using your thump and index finger.

  • Frank Gyure

    Happy Anniversary….”OIB”. It was a god idea and remains so today and into the future.

  • Donald Day

    Great job Lennie doing anything for ten years successfully is to be congratulated. I can remember when Ron Mackey told me about OIB and said I should post and I said I’m not posting on that bullshit blog. Oh well that was then and this is now. Lisa, you are right when you said some of the time we eventually agree with each other. I never thought I would say, you’re right Andy or Tom White you are correct which still bothers me today. Keep it up Lennie.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Hold on a second Lisa, Don one of the good ones along with Ron, the black dynamic duo of OIB ,and the guardians of “COLORED” issues. What? Are you insinuating the rest of black bloggers on OIB are “NO” Good? Yet you say I’m stroking the fire of bigotry and discrimination?

    However it has been said I’m kind of stupid. So maybe what you said wasn’t racist. Day, Ron did you find being call one of the good ones racist? Or any other black OIB blogger besides Day and Ron, the good ones, to be racist? I may be stupid but I’m sure whites like me were not implied in your comment, good or bad ones, Lisa. Bam I’m out

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPxs0Qh72kY

  • Jennifer Buchanan

    Congratulations! You do good things.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Congratulations Lennie. Wishing you another successful decade! Thank-you for allowing many of us a soapbox to voice our opinions. Best Wishes!

  • John from Black Rock

    “What a long strange trip it’s been” Congratulations Lennie! JFBR – AKA John Soltis

  • Mojo

    *** May you have another 10 more yrs. of success and continued interesting articles and colorful bloggers like myself “MOJO” , Walsh, Lisa, Andy, Joel, JML, John, Jennifer, Steven, Day, Robert Tex, Tom, Mack & many, many more! ***

  • Harvey Weintraub

    Congrats and Thank you for providing this outlet..cheers!

  • John Marshall Lee

    Lenny,
    Thanks for the “opportunities” you provided to all of us and the “memories” triggered as well as made new with the story telling.

    Fascinating to find out that my first entry as Beacon2 came in 2008 and the telegraphed transition to John Marshall Lee came about in March 2016 when I took a look back at the lengthy list of objectives Bill Finch posted in December 2007: His first two objectives…”Lowering property taxes and working for school improvement”…Sound familiar? Maybe these are on the first page of the Bridgeport DTC playbook? FINCH posted the priorities and after that was not accountable while GANIM2 ran on these two purposes and promptly forgot them. Is there any practical difference?

    Heard a comment today that Mayor Ganim co-teaches a course on American government at University of Bridgeport currently. Anybody want to sign up for the evening when checks and balance, conflicts of interest or transparency is covered? Maybe Ganim2 only teaches about the “Federal system” and “second chances” in modern times? Time will tell.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Error. March 16, 2012 is correct. Time (about 5 seconds) did tell.

  • Ernie Newton

    Hey Lennie Congrats to you and OIB! Wishing you 10 more Years.

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