Today is AMERICAblog’s 10th anniversary

Today is the 10-year anniversary of my first story, our first post, on AMERICAblog. (Thanks to Bill in Portland for remind me!)

It was early 2004, and like most Democrats, I’d pretty much had it with the Bush administration. My friend Michelangelo Signorile had been mentioning to me for a while this “blog” he liked to read, written by some guy named “Atrios,” and I remember asking Mike to explain to me exactly what a blog was.

How AMERICAblog got started

AMERICAblog's original template.

AMERICAblog’s original template.

I’d always been a good writer, and had already written professionally at this point, as a stringer for the UK magazine the Economist. I was still doing my political Internet consulting (that I’d started in 1997), and knew that blogging wasn’t going to earn me any money.  But Bush finally pushed me into blogging when he gave a speech at the White House endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA).  The FMA would have amended the US Constitution to ban gay marriage, but also quite possibly strike down every gay rights law and ordinance nationwide.

For many gay Americans, that was the last straw (not that Bush hadn’t already crossed the line of “too far” already).  Thus, AMERICAblog was born on April 23, 2004.

My plan at AMERICAblog was to offer a sympathetic (to the left) insider’s look at the US politics.  Not just report the news, but explain the news. We particularly wanted to focus on gay rights news, but not exclusively.  To paraphrase Towleroad’s slogan, I liked to think of us as a “straight” blog with gay tendencies, unless a big issue comes up, then we became a full-time gay blog until we win.  (I’d make a bi joke, but progressive humor was outlawed about a year ago.)

Our writers over the years

The second version of our original template.

The second version of our original template.

I think we’ve pretty well accomplished our mission. It started with Joe Sudbay and me, Chris in Paris joined on shortly thereafter (or maybe Chris came at the same time as Joe).  Joe, like me, is a political expert, but Joe brought the election, and particularly polling expertise, as well.  Chris, having worked on Wall Street, brought a keen sense of the economy to his work.

Lots of others have passed through over the years, like my friend Michael Giltz in NYC who covered movies and culture, and former defense intelligence officer Alex Rossmiller who offered great insight into the Iraq War back in the day.  So many more have circulated through, including our present day crew, including Becca Morn, Dr. Mark Thoma, Chris Trejbal (who just joined on), and of course Gaius Publius, who is now writing a book about climate change (more on that in the months to come).  There were many more I’m leaving out, far too many to mention, but all were appreciated.

Jeff Gannon

Over the years, I like to think we’ve had a rather unique impact in our niche.  Our first big story was about the Jeff Gannon brouhaha, where we uncovered the fact that the very conservative anti-gay Gannon (aka Guckert), who was a regular at the Bush White House,  had worked as a gay male prostitute and was working now under a fake name.

Wesley Clark’s cell phone records: Pre-texting

Another big story of that era was my piece exposing the fact that you could buy anyone’s cell phone records online for about $89.  I figured the best way to make the story go big would be to buy the records of someone famous, so I bought Wesley Clark’s (Clark was a Democratic presidential candidate and the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO). The story exploded, and within a year, Congress passed a law banning the practice and Bush signed it.

Ford Motor Company vs the Gays

We’ve done a number of high-profile gay advocacy cases, including an early one that was particularly effective, taking on the Ford Motor Company’s decision to cease advertising in the gay press, at the behest of the American Family Association, a huge religious right group.  Well, Joe and I destroyed Ford over the issue, while the lead gay groups dilly-dallied, and won.

Microsoft vs the Gays

Around the same time as the Ford brouhaha, the press was reporting that Microsoft had decided to no longer support gay rights measures, particularly in employment non-discrimination, but rather would take a neutral stance. This was in response to a religious right preacher in Washington state.

Over the next month, AMERICAblog revealed that Microsoft had secretly hired religious right leader Ralph Reed as a $20,000 a month consulting, and we published the internal invoices of Reed’s bills.  Reed was fired, Microsoft relented, and the gays lived to fight another day.

The DOMA brief

AMERICAblog's 3rd template.

AMERICAblog’s 3rd template.

In more recent times, Joe and I broke the news that the Obama administration was not only continuing to defend the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), but that they were using a Bush administration anti-gay brief in court.  It was a brief that included references to incest and pedophilia, in addition to a number of noxious allegations. Our story exploded online, and reportedly got the President’s attention the next day.

As Mike Signorile put it the other day, Joe and I “began the campaign to stop Obama from defending DOMA after the Justice Department filed an offensive brief defending DOMA in June 2009, in the face of many Obama apologists, some connected to the administration, who attacked them and said that the administration had to defend DOMA.” After dogging the administration for two years, with the help of many others, the President finally changed his mind and stopped defending DOMA in court (and, rather, to the President’s credit, pushed for DOMA’s repeal).

President Obama “evolving”

On a second “gay marriage” issue, Joe made a particularly big splash with his interview of President Obama, at the White House, in October of 2010 when, after an impassioned question from Joe, the President acknowledged for the first time that his views were “evolving” on the issue of marriage equality. Signorile explains again: “It was a pivotal moment, certainly reported on at great length in the media, that would be used against the president over and over by media pundits and activists demanding that he ‘evolve already!’ ”

DADT

Similarly, Joe and I were absolute pains-in-the-ass of the Obama administration on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  I’m not even sure I could find just one post that encapsulates our two-year effort on that issue.

BP Gulf Spill

One of our biggest stories, and biggest traffic days ever, came from a tip I got from my nephew Anthony.  He saw some mention somewhere that British Petroleum (BP), during the middle of its hugely diastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, was faking supposed “oil spill command center action photos” on its Web site.  Anthony and I scoured BP’s site, and what do you know – he was right.  Our story detailing the forgeries went huge, worldwide, and brought us around half a million visitors that day alone.

Russian gays

AMERICAblog also took a lead role in working with Dan Savage and Queer Nation, among many others, to explode the story about Russia’s human rights abuses against its gay and trans citizens last year, in the months before the Olympics.  While the story had been around for years, it hadn’t garnered any traction until a small group of us latched on to the idea of a vodka boycott to successfully put the story on the map internationally.  Russian President Putin’s treatment of Russian gays ended up becoming a prescient canary in the coal-mine of Putin’s now world-famous move back to his Soviet roots.

AMERICAblog today

AMERICAblog's current template.

AMERICAblog’s current template.

The 2008 economic collapse decimated our income.  I’d been working mostly full-time on the blog for years at that point, making 99% of my income from the site, and destroyed 75% of our income.  In 2009, I made 25% of what I made in 2008.  (And today, I’m still only up to 40% or so.)

I decided privately that we needed to shake things up in order to get more traffic, and thus more ad revenues, or the site was going to be closed by Christmas of 2012.

In October of 2012, we launched AMERICAblog 3.0, our current version of the site, which permitted us to double and triple our unique visitors, while increasing our pageviews by around 50%.

Interestingly, we cut back on the number of posts from perhaps 20 to 30 per day, to only 5 substantive posts a day, following by some lite filler, such as videos at night.

The change in posting was necessary as Joe and Chris had moved on to focus on their “real” jobs – I was never able to make enough on the blog to offer them a real full-time job – so most of the responsibility for writing rested with me, along with Gaius who usually penned one story most weekday mornings.

I took a gamble and chose to focus on writing more in-depth stories and analysis, rather than simply posting snippets of stories from other sites. The gamble paid off.  As noted, our traffic increased significantly, which helped me decided to keep the site alive, and give it a chance, for a few more years.

So thank you, all of you, who have been with us over the years, who have written for us, who have donated to help support our work.  It’s not easy striking out on your own and trying to make a living by being your own boutique magazine.  Thanks to the efforts of so many, we’ve (so far) been able to keep the old site chugging along.  We’re not out of the woods yet by any means, but we’ve managed to last this long, and make a bit of a difference along the way.  And as far as jobs go, sitting at home in your pajamas has its merits.

Thanks, JOHN

PS Here’s the very generous description of our site that Bill in Portland posted on Daily Kos today:

americablog-anniversary-daily-kos


NOTE FROM JOHN: Please share our content on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest and beyond. As I explained the other day, when you share our stories, you help bring us visitors, which increases our ad revenue and helps to keep this site alive. Thanks for your help. JOHN


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

Share This Post

  • Kimm Ryland

    My Uncle Jacob got a year 2013 Audi TT RS
    Coupe by working part time online. imp source C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Steven Leahy

    You do terrific work John, I appreciate all you do!

  • Nomechick

    Congratulations John. Please keep investigation and writing and I’ll keep reading Americablog. I like the animal videos too, they’re a nice break from the gloomy political front. I like your stories from Paris too.

  • stranded

    Congratulations! Thanks for all the great work.

  • Jade

    “Chris came at the same time as Joe.” Aww! I love it when that happens!

    I can’t exactly remember how I stumbled across you, but it was definitely in 2004. I’d bet, though, that I found you through the Rude Pundit, since his was the only political blog I read at that time.

  • kraftysue

    Happy 10th and keep up the good work. I have been with you for years and enjoy your viewpoint. Also love the animal videos and weird news you present. It is a nice break from the usual gloom and doom around the net.

  • Glenn I

    Congratulations! I’ve been reading for most of that time.

  • artmofo

    Happy anniversary, Americablog!

  • 4th Turning

    Thanks for making my day-damn-my whole week! Just sent it on trying to do my part
    in that idiotic viral thing!

  • Suemarie

    Congratulations, John! I’ve been reading you since before Gannon. Aside from the politics and your reasoned approach to things, I’ve loved your entries during your summer stays in Paris and your accessibility via email. Thanks so much.

  • Sean

    Congratulations, and thanks!

  • The_Fixer

    Congratulations on making it 10 years!

    I’ve been reading since shortly after you started here, and you’re due my thanks for the great work you’ve done.

  • dcinsider

    Congrats and thank you!

  • Aladin

    You are naive and foolish man, there is no truth that is written about Russia, do you believe the propaganda and russophobia provatsiruete arms race. Finally remove his dark glasses and look at the world health. In Russia, more democracy than in many Western countries and the U.S.. When the president of the United States does not want to answer uncomfortable questions for him, he just does not let journalists objectionable and does not answer questions, haha) here’s democracy in American)))

  • annatopia

    happy anniversary john!! :)

  • jomicur

    Congratulations, John! And please, please, please keep up the good work!

  • olandp

    Congratulations on 10 years. I first came here when the Jeff Gannon story broke and have been coming everyday since then.

  • HeartlandLiberal

    And for those looking for their endearing video for the day, I recommend John post this one, of photographer interacting with meerkats, including one that climbs on his head then out onto the tip of his huge telephoto lens, because it is such a great lookout post.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ4CYbCGhLA

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Your site remains one of five I read each morning and evening. Primarily because of the cogency and focus of the content in the articles you publish. I also admit to enjoying the links to cute animal videos. But then, who connected to the Internets does NOT? Assuming they are honest.

    I have particularly been impressed with the depth and scope and insight in the coverage of the insanity reigning inside the Soviet Union…. Oh, Sorry, I meant Russia.., which appears to be imploding back into a homophobic, antisemitic police state run now by a former top KGB official, and in which pretty much all power rests in the hands of the Russian mob and neoNazi groups.

    What that coverage illustrates more clearly than anything is the total, abject collapse into worthlessness of the traditional, oligarchy controlled mainstream media. And explains why I read the five blogs I read every day (DailyKos, AmericaBLog, Balloon-Juice, TalkingPointsMemo, and Digby’s Huallabaloo), and for real honest reporting, go the UK for the Guardian, to German for Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, and most ironic of all, Al Jazeera. I also get twice daily news bulletins from Deutsche Welle by email.

    America has reached a sad nadir in its history when I can get better, in depth, and more honest coverage of American politics, actual reporting of what is going on, from Al Jazeera.

    CNN is such a joke I do not understand how anyone can watch the travesty it has become. Founded by Ted Turner, for a decade and more it set the model of what a 24×7 news channel should be. And CNN Headline News tabloid trash 24×7? Please. I do not currently have to take medicine for high blood pressure, and I would like to keep it that way.

  • Henry Owen

    Happy diamond anniversary, John. I went with the modern, rather than the traditional, 10th anniversary interpretation, since AmericaBlog definitely is not traditional (and the fact that diamonds are much nicer than tin or aluminum, haha).

  • Aladin

    Alaska back to Russia!

  • http://musephotos.wordpress.com/ GarySFBCN

    Congratulations John!

  • Silver_Witch

    I hope you enjoy another 10 years John, and in that I hope that someday the world is so much better that most of your posts will be of evil cats, cute puppies, the honey badger escapes and how we have have overcome climate change, bigotry and hatred and that women, gays and people of color are equal and living in joy!

    Peace be with you.

  • FuzzyRabbit

    John, congratulations on your 10 year anniversary, and thank you for all your hard work.

    Every morning AMERICAblog is my first stop on the “information superhighway” while I enjoy my first cup of joe. I hope your site is even more successful for many more years.

  • Don Chandler

    Great blog John. I read you everyday. I don’t post but you inform and persuade daily.

  • pappyvet

    Wonderful John ! I hope you have many more years of great posts and all the success life has to give.

  • 4th Turning

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9shc2CVbU8

    B _ _ _ x gift certificate baked inside cake(thanks to generous doc discount), Cheers!

  • g1brown

    Congratulations! You are one of my favorite news sources and I look at you every day. I have also donated, because you’re worth it. Keep it up!

  • MichaelS

    My husband introduced me to your blog just about the time you started it — and I think he’s regretted it ever since, since I constantly send him links to your stories with the admonition Read this! :-)

    Congratulations, John!

  • whollyfool

    Congratulations! :)

  • cambridgemac

    Congratulations, John! I love the way you’ve expanded to include Chris in Paris and Gaius Publius, the continued great reporting, the timely blending of advoacy & reporting on gay and human rights issues, and the willingness to puill back the curtain and unmask the puppeteers. Here’s to a great second decade!

  • jamesnimmo

    I read your email list everyday. I’m glad to know you’re out there for real people.

  • Guest

    I read your email list of stories everyday. I’m glad to know your out there for real people.

  • Butch1

    Congratulations on ten years doing this blog! May you have many more decades as well, John. I know I have enjoyed visiting it and being a part of this long time family of “old timer’s” who continue to come back everyday to see what’s happening. Good luck and may you never run out of news. ;-)

  • Bob Niemic

    Congrats to John & the blog’s team.

  • Yalma Cuder-Zicci

    Felicidaaaades!!!

  • Indigo

    Happy Anniversary! I was here when you started and before, when it was a regular political update e-letter.

    Those Were The Days . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVdOQvx379Y

  • Arawis

    Congratulations and many happy decades in your future.

  • beaudyk

    Congratulations John. I was on your email list 5 years before, too. You have always kept us up to date on public affairs. You’re a smart man, great journalist, honest, and have the cutest dog in the world!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yeah, I recall Raw Story did an amazing FOIA request for the records, and they were suspicious as hell.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    It is weird. I remember talking to Signorile about the story, before I went public, to make sure I was doing the right thing, make sure that I had all my facts nailed down, etc. Funny thing, we progressive writers, many of us actually care both about doing the right thing and getting the story right.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Wow, I wasn’t sure who was here from the beginning, but several original readers (akin to original vampires, I hear) popped up on facebook too :)

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Wow I can’t believe I’ve been reading it for 10 years. I remember when Rick told me about it. Here’s to 10 more (at least)!

  • Jim Olson

    Thank you, John and all, for what you do. A-Blog and Gay-Blog are my daily reality check-in sites.

  • FLL

    Thanks for your dedication. Your work often starts the ball rolling. The pro-DOMA brief of 2009 would have received much less attention in the mainstream media had it not been for Americablog. The same applies to the boycott of Russian vodka last year, which you, Dan Savage and Harvey Weinstein made a success. Your work has an impact. Never forget that.

  • cokey

    Glad you’re there. Happy anniversary.

  • nick

    It’s hard to believe a whole decade has passed since the Gannon debacle, time does fly. I still wonder to this day what/who he was doing at the white house on those many, many visits that never made it into the log books.

  • nick

    “Dr.” Laura was a biggie too! Perhaps that came under the banner of StopDrLaura.com, but still, credit where credit is due, I thought it was a masterful campaign.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Neat! Congratulations, John.

    And thanks for inviting me to join your crew. :-)

  • TonyT

    Thanks for the 10 years and the history lesson!!

  • ericxdc

    John, thank you. Your site, your dedication and your perspective are very much appreciated!

  • AndyinChicago

    Congratulations! It’s amazing to see how much you’ve done when you lay it all out like this. Thank you for your activism.

  • judybrowni

    Thanks for your activism — it’s always fun reading how you kick ass.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    God I barely remembered that one – that was probably a Joe or Chris thing that I wasn’t even fully aware of our role in!

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Congrats. I thought your reporting on the Ohio State government’s investments in rare coins was quite useful too.

  • Ninja0980

    Congrats to you John!
    Also wanted to say thank you for not only holding Republican’s feet to the fire but Democrats as well.

  • Heather

    Happy Anniversary, John! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. Not sure how long but it was before Jeff Gannon!

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