I’ll admit, I’m not great with anniversaries. One year we were visiting friends in Atlanta on the tail end of our summer vacation. As we were walking through downtown doing the tourist thing, they randomly asked when our wedding anniversary was. My husband remembered a split second before me and started laughing as I sputtered, “Um … it’s today.”
But I am confident that years from now, I will look back on this past week as an important milestone. The Dispatch turned one, and—I’m not going to lie—we’re pretty excited about how far we’ve come. In the “manifesto” we sent out on October 8, 2019, we wrote: “Right now, we are a small and merry band, boarding a pirate skiff with limited provisions amid choppy waters crammed with well-equipped battleships, barreling through the smoking wrecks of larger vessels that came before us.”
The past couple of decades have wreaked havoc on the media business. The internet changed things in ways no one could have foreseen when we were accessing it via a dial-up modem and using AOL discs as drink coasters. Some changes were good. It was remarkably equalizing—remember the blogosphere?—in that it lowered the “cost of entry.” Register a domain, find yourself a publishing tool, and you’re on your way. Best of all, the ink is free and you never run out of space. But print publications early on disregarded the value of online advertising and all but gave it away. And they gave away their online content, setting up an expectation that, if it’s on the internet, it should be free. There were many other miscalculations along the way, but this is supposed to be a celebratory musing.