Looking Back On 20 Years

In December, we'll bring you 20 stories about the first 20 years of TPM. But for now, a few thoughts on where we've been and where we are.
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Today, TPM is 20 years old. This December, as we close out one of the most exhausting, stressful, and bizarre years of our lives, we’ll be revisiting and celebrating some of the most interesting and noteworthy events from TPM’s history.

Longtime readers will recall TPM’s early work on the Florida recount, the fight over social security during the George W. Bush years, and the U.S. Attorneys scandal. But our celebration this December will also let everyone in on some of the inner machinations of the organization along the way, such as our favorite New York City dive bars, the story behind TPM’s first office and the legendary TPM softball team.

So as TPM enters its 21st year, we hope you’ll join us in remembering the first 20. So many people have contributed to make TPM what it is today, and you’ll hear from several alumni and familiar faces. There will be much, much more about this come December, so keep your eyes peeled.

But, on this day 20 years ago, TPM was just Josh Marshall, and I think it’s worth contextualizing where TPM is as a company and as an organization as we mark two decades.

If you’ve checked out our About page and mission statement lately, you’ll see we have three really simple goals:

  1. Do good journalism
  2. Be a great place to work
  3. Make enough money to do both

Undoubtedly, 2020 was one of the most challenging years for TPM. The pandemic took an emotional toll on all of us and upended our plans for the year. But TPM’s editorial team didn’t miss a beat and did amazing work on the pandemic, the campaigns and ultimately the election. Although our ad revenue decreased by roughly one third due to COVID-19, we never had to lay anyone off or reduce benefits. We’re a fiscally strong company doing great work.

But most importantly, TPM’s employees care about each other.

Sure, things have not always been perfect. There have been ups and downs at TPM, like there are at any company or organization, and one person alone does not create a culture. But however you slice it, we’re a pretty tight-knit bunch and that doesn’t happen by accident. It has to be something that is encouraged. It’s fun to work at a company where the employees care about each other and don’t view each other simply as work colleagues. (We also wouldn’t be where we are today without the TPM Union!)

This picture is from a couple of weeks ago. The New York City office employees missed each other and wanted to get together in the park. It’s not that people at other companies don’t become friends, of course they do. But it’s not guaranteed. Yet we, apparently, do.

As I said, there have been ups and downs, successes and failures, pats on the back and shouting matches, but as we arrive at the 20-year mark, TPM is a fiscally sound company that does great journalism, and the employees (I among them) at least seem to like each other.

It’s a long way from blogging by yourself. That’s something to be proud of, Josh. Congratulations.

Latest Miscellany

Notable Replies

  1. I’ve been an active participant and paying member of this site for eight years, and it’s seen us all through some good times and some hard times. I do appreciate what Josh has created here, and admire the team’s ability to adapt to a changing media world.

    My one major complaint is that Josh and the team don’t seem to realize what an incredible asset they have in their very active and very involved reader community. Software bugs go years without resolution, whole areas of the site (e.g. Josh’s editorials) are not allowed comment threads, it’s like we’re this group of people chatting outside the window, not active participants in an on-going conversation.

    My proposal for “the next 20 years” would be that you extend that first point to say “Do good journalism and promote a strong and involved community of readers”.

    I’ll confess I don’t know what happens to this site “post-Donald”. I’ve seen a number of folks (some of us more vocal than others) complain about this lack of involvement with the readers, and I for one may drop my Prime subscription if I don’t see a shift towards more recognition of reader concern “post-Apocalypse”. In the meantime, I recognize it takes money to deliver the environment in which I’m writing this, so I continue to renew and hope for a “reboot” once we get past this current madness.

    Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?!?

  2. But, on this day 20 years ago, TPM was just Josh Marshall.

    I remember.

    Kudos to Our Gracious Host – and his team.

  3. What I remember most about 20 years ago is how right wingers dominated the news media while at the same time always complaining about the media having a left wing bias. For example anyone else remember MSNBC cancelling its top rated program because its host, Phil Donahue, disagreed with Bush over the Iraq War.

    Well we are far from where we should be, TPM has helped bring the news media part of the way back from Republican-right wing control.

  4. Congratulations Josh and the rest of the team? I started reading the site in early 2001. It was probably linked from another site. I thought the writing and opinions were excellent, so I continued to read and have continued ever since. I remember thinking how funny the site looked compared to other sites. There was a small, 4"(?) column down the middle of the page. I hadn’t seen that before. Now you have 3 columns and other sites have similar layouts. Were you an innovator?

    Again, congratulations, and thank you for 20 years of quality news and opinion.

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