We continue to get a lot of great feedback on the TPM redesign. And when I say ‘great’ I mean both the positive and the negative, though happily it’s overwhelmingly in the former category. But one of the most common and (to me) interesting complaints is that we got rid of the small link list called “TPM Approved Sites”. This was a list of about a dozen links to other sites that had remained pretty much the same for about a decade and hadn’t changed at all in about five years.
Since a lot of you asked, I wanted to answer just why we pulled it because it was at least in part a personal decision.
For starters, this little section didn’t easily fit into the new design. But that was at most a secondary consideration. In the wake of your emails, I’d actually considered putting it on the main Editors’ Blog page, where it would fit quite nicely. But the real reason is that I just didn’t feel entirely honest having it there anymore.
The approved sites list started when the site first went live just over 11 years ago, well before a lot of the conventions of blogs had come into existence or at least before I knew about them. My references when I started TPM were Kausfiles and to a lesser extent The Daily Dish. I wasn’t aware of any other similar sites like this. The list started as kind of half a joke — the reference to “TPM approved” was (I hope obviously) sort of a joke in itself. It was a mix of places I wrote frequently as a freelancer and sites run by friends. They were all ones I liked, obviously. But it was a bit less than a disinterested selection process. That was about it. And that was fine as long as it was just my site.
As TPM became more prominent the list was a constant source of questions about why certain sites were on or off — not enough left-wing sites, not enough sites run by women or minorities, not (your) site, not enough new sites. It would come up sometimes in business conversations, whether a site we were possibly entering a business partnership with could be added (something we never did). For a lot of reasons we’d get pressed to add or in some cases subtract names. And for this reason and innate stubbornness, I just refused to change it at all.
But eleven years is a long time ago. Some of these sites I still read regularly, others I don’t read at all. Some have all but faded from existence. If I were coming up with a list of my favorite sites or what I considered the best sites, I’d remove some and add others. But it probably wouldn’t be a very interesting list since I don’t myself read much opiniony material. My own reading is pretty focused on news. But the bottom line is that this wasn’t really my list of favorite sites or best sites or whatever.
However that may be, for the reasons above, the list just didn’t feel very genuine anymore. And so I thought it was time to retire it.
I know from your emails that a lot of you still used it as a tool to access this handful of websites. I didn’t quite get that so many people were using it for that. And I’m still thinking about whether we can find a way to address that need because readers’ experience (especially our most dedicated longtime readers) is extremely important to me. But I still don’t think that’s a reason to bring it back. I don’t think it belonged on the site anymore.
I welcome your comments.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.