TPM at 20

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November 13, 2020 9:47 a.m.

So here we are: 20 years. I remember our 10 year anniversary. That feels not long ago at all. The beginning in many ways feels like a lifetime ago, a very different time in my life, a very different time in our politics and in the media and publishing world certainly.

Today I don’t want to say too much more than thank you. Thank you to all of our readers and especially our almost 35,000 subscribers who literally make it possible for us to do all of this and have made it possible for me to experiment and drive this forward since 2000. My ask for today is this. Share your TPM memories with us. Maybe it’s a special moment in your relationship with the site. Maybe it’s how you found TPM. Anything and everything. Our real history and existence is your experience of our collective work over these many years. So pop open your email and let us know what yours is. Use the subject line TPM20.

If you’d also like to share some part or version of it publicly on social media please use the hashtag #TPM20. Our existence as an organization has always been about leveraging and sharing your individual and collective insights. So send those in. It will mean the world to me and the whole team. We will of course be sharing many of them as part of our celebration of the team’s milestone.

Next, we’re doing a bit more this year than just a fun graphic and anniversary posts. The team has been working on a pretty ambitious retrospective of the site’s history and the team’s work, 20 stories trying to take in the full scope of it. One of my colleagues will be telling you more about that later today. So stay tuned for that. That will get underway in early December.

I’m proud of what this site has accomplished and what it is. I am incredibly proud not only of the current team but the legions of talent that have passed through its virtual doors over these years. In many ways what I’m most proud of is not starting it or building it but continuing it, preserving it. The first years were an incredible amount of hard work. It made no money so I had to freelance to support it. One year I had to borrow a grand from my father to make rent, which was mortifying since I was already in my early 30s and wanted to give him some confidence I was going to make something of myself. I wish he had lived to see more of what the site became. (He died in 2006.) But in those early years the site had the luck of good timing. There was an efflorescence of blogs, digital media, new experimental forms of journalism. We rode on a wave. It felt like the wind was at our back.

In the years around 2011 and 2012 it was altogether harder. The winds of consolidation and monopolization were already blowing through the digital publishing world even if most people didn’t quite realize it yet. Many of the innovations TPM had been a part of or even in some cases pioneered were being adopted throughout the conventional, legacy media world. Those two or three years were quite difficult and I finally had to make a handful of really hard decisions about the future of the site, how to ensure it remained financially viable without taking gambles or easy outs I thought would eventually destroy it, and how to be sure it remained truly independent. It sometimes felt like as an organization logic and time were against us. But optimism is an ethic. That is the period in the site’s history I am in many ways most proud of even though it was likely the least fun and the work and struggle was largely invisible on the outside and even to a degree within the organization.

Today I can truly say I think the site is on the surest footing organizationally, financially and editorially as it’s ever been. David Kurtz as Executive Editor and Joe Ragazzo as Publisher are an incredibly talented leadership team, both of whom I am lucky to have trust-fall levels of trust in about their understanding of our mission and dedication to it. We have a great team in New York and Washington. John, David, Nicole, Tierney, Josh, Matt, Kate, Cristina, Summer, Zoe, Derick, Matt, Jackie, Jacob and Christine. The creation of the TPM Union in 2018 has I think deepened the staff’s sense of security and ushered in a broader climate of organizational trust. So all good.

So there it is, folks. 20 years. Here’s to twenty more.

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