Yes...This was actually my horoscope today. Scary right?

By now you’ve all heard the news that our longest and most beloved contributor Alan Bedenko has decided to take a paid blogging gig with our friends at Artvoice:

Via Facebook:

If you missed the news, our longtime contributor and friend Alan Bedenko has taken a paid blogging position @Artvoice. We wish Alan nothing but the best of luck in his new venture and look forward to working closely with him again in the future. While we are sad to see Alan go, we are even more excited about the new direction WNYmedia.net will be heading in 2012. We’ll have more information on the future of our website and the future of covering important news and information in WNY over the upcoming days.

With the news that Alan has moved onto a different pasture (not so much greener), questions about the future of WNYmedia.net and what this means for us need to be addressed.

The short answer. We aren’t going anywhere. (you can read the long answer below)

OLD MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. ONTO A NEW ONE.

When I started this website venture with a lifelong friend in 2003, we had a few simple goals in mind:

  1. Share information though a community website that would give people a place to collectively voice opinions and advocate for things they believe in.
  2. Become an important player in the local media and political landscape.
  3. Play a role, as large as possible, to rid ourselves of Republican control locally and nationally (Remember 2003 we had GWB, Joel Giambra and others still at the realm)
  4.  Eventually make a living and have fun doing it.

I am proud to say that, at least for now and with the help of a host of amazing people along the way, those goals (for the most part) have not only been met but actually shattered.

So as we come to the close of another election cycle and brand spankin’ new year, I have been left with a tough decision on where to go from here. It’s one I’ve lost much sleep over the past 6 months and continue to put all my efforts, even as Im writing this post.

BLOGGING IS NOT DEAD.  IT’S JUST DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT NOW

In seven years, we have seen dramatic shifts in technology, political climate, news gathering tools and what blogging has evolved into. Twitter and Facebook specifically all but eliminated the vast “minor leagues” of local blogs and bloggers we could chose to promote onto WNYmedia.net.

When this site first started, we were on the cutting edge of technology.  Hell, we were streaming live video and live blogging events before Margaret Sullivan even knew what blogging was.

Over the last two years, the mainstream media hacks caught up to the times and stole all our cool toys. It was only to be expected.

In seven years a lot has changed for me personally and professionally. I know its hard to believe but I’m not perfect.  As the publisher of this website, I have made my share of mistakes and blunders along the way.  Some of our experiments have worked great and other blew up in our face. But unlike other outlets who have come and gone over the last seven years, WNYmedia.net is still here and actually stronger than ever heading into 2012.

The biggest mistake I’ve made over the last few years was that with all these new technologies and news gathering tools popping up around us,  I sat back and let what is the tool (blogging) become our platform. Instead of embracing something different, everyone else had the chance to catch up.

The past six months have left this website a bit stale. Our partnerships dried up and some important people have moved on. Though we had another great election cycle, it became more difficult for those who remained to create content on a daily basis. Keeping the same look and format for 3 years has been a problem as well, leaving our database painfully slow and bulky.

While I do not want to dissolve WNYmedia.net, I also do not want to keep going in the same direction we’ve been heading for the past two years. Not just technologically speaking, but politically as well.

Though it took longer than I had anticipated, I have come to some answers about where we go from here.

A NEW DAY

As the publisher of this website,  I’ve never been afraid to blow things up and start again.  Doing so has scared people away as much as it has brought new people in over the last seven years. I could seriously write a book about  the inner workings of this site, decisions that were made, fights that were had, ideas that were left on the table and the people who have come and gone. Hmm…

2012 will see us heading in an entirely new direction as we take blogging to the next level through some innovative tools to cover news and influence people. Our main beats will still include politics, government,  sports, media, and community activism. But now, we will enter a groundbreaking new era in our history of providing you information about the most important topics on a daily and up to the minute basis.

Most importantly, we hope this will no longer strictly be considered a “liberal political blog”.  Sure we will continue to have left leaning analysis and opinions, but those subjects will be better separated than they have in the past.

As hard as it might be to shake that reputation, we plan on putting serious efforts into turning this into more of a daily news gathering operation and informational mega site for WNY than trading in people’s political opinions. Well… sort of 🙂 We hope that with the current shakeup and departure of some long time contributors, some of that vitriol you have come to love or hate will eventually fade from recent memory.

I have put significant time, effort, money and resources into what will be the brand new WNYmedia.net coming online in the next few weeks.  The redesigned WNYmedia.net will be simple, but intensely focused on live news coverage, using the latest social media tools to more directly inform, generate discussion and establish new take on blogging that will more effectively present a wider variety of WNY opinion-makers. It will be part aggregator, part original content and act as a repository for what people are doing online all day in Buffalo and the surrounding areas.

The new site will also include more resources and tools for people to participate in citizen journalism including the opportunity to get paid to cover live events and even a kick ass mobile app to tie everything together that will hopefully be available by summer 2012.

As this post is getting excruciatingly long, I’ll save the intimate details about the new format and tools for another post later in the week.

To conclude, I’m extremely proud of what we have built over the last seven years and even more excited about what I see as the future of web publishing and what it will bring to Western New York.

As a few more regular contributors will be leaving us over the next few weeks, I want to publiclly thank everyone (past present and future) who put so much time and effort into making this website what it has become.

With the help of some awesome new people (and a few crazy ones) we will continue to be Buffalo’s social media outlet of record for years to come.

More in the coming days. Promise.