Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

The end for SaintPetersBlog

in Peter by

Ever since I acquired the rights to the perfect domain for my efforts — FloridaPolitics.com — I knew that one day, this website would have to be put out to pasture.

Well, after more than 51,000 posts, this is the final one.

Going forward, I am devoting my full energies to the Florida Politics brand, whether it be the website, email programs like “Sunburn” and “Last Call,” or our gorgeous, award-winning INFLUENCE Magazine.

Quite honestly, SaintPetersBlog — or SaintPetersBlog1.blogpost.com, as it was first identified — has lasted much longer than I thought it would. Well, actually, I am surprised it got off the ground in the first place.

It was born, like most blogs, at a mom’s house.

It took off during the 2009 mayoral race in St. Petersburg, forged its identity during the 2010 election cycle (primarily because of our coverage of Charlie Crist versus Marco Rubio), and, reached its apex during the 2013 elections in St. Pete, when we probably did our most important work for the city we love by almost single-handedly stopping the most dangerous candidate to ever run for mayor (Kathleen Ford).

For that work alone, we won a Best of the Bay award from our friends at Creative Loafing. We’ve also won a slew of other honors, including significant recognition from The Florida Press Club, which recognized SPB as the best independent blog in the state.

But, like I said, when FloridaPolitics.com came along — with its SEO-friendly address and its instant explanation of what the website is about — I knew that at some point, I would have to shelve the clunky-sounding SaintPetersBlog.

Some might ask why today is the day SPB is coming to an end when there’s just a month left before Election Day. Actually, the mayoral race is precisely one of the reasons why I want to do this now as opposed to after the election.

First of all, both Mitch Perry and I will continue to write about St. Pete and Tampa Bay politics; we’re just going to publish what we write only on FloridaPolitics.com. (Poor Mitch has been promised a complete switch to FP for going on two years, so I am sure he welcomes this announcement.)

Second, I did not want the shuttering of SPB to be seen as a reaction to the results of the mayoral race. I’ve planned on making this move for many months, if not years. If I waited to shut down SPB after Rick Kriseman wins, some would see that as a response to four more years of his administration. And if Rick Baker wins, there would be no upside for me serving as a critic and/or watchdog of a third-term for my friend and mentor.

So we’re getting out now, while the getting’s good.

There are several other reasons for bringing this site to an end. If you will indulge me:

— I’m just not as interested in local affairs as I am drinking from the fire hose that is statewide politics. This is probably obvious to longtime readers of SPB, who once could depend on us for in-depth coverage of City Hall. I never replaced Janelle Irwin or Anne Lindberg, who covered St. Pete and the Pinellas County Commission for SPB, not because we could not find talented reporters but because I wasn’t as interested in the subject matter as I was five years ago.

— I’m at peace with the Tampa Bay Times. Since this website’s inception, I’ve battled with an array of reporters and editors at the then-St. Petersburg Times and now the Tampa Bay Times. SPB filled a void left when The Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing abandoned its role as a watchdog of local journalism. As much as I enjoyed sparring with the newspaper, I knew it would cost me long-term. Because of the adversarial relationship, the paper first came after me, then essentially decided to ignore me and our coverage. However, with all of the turnover at the newspaper, the folks I used to give-and-take with are largely gone. Its local coverage is what it is: solid if workmanlike (no one espouses this more than former truck driver turned award-winning reporter Mark Puente). Its columnists are not crusaders and rarely write something worth getting worked up about. But what the Times does do very well are big projects which attract awards, and there’s really no arguing with any of that. Versus the Times, I’m all punched out.

— The future is in our email programs. Just as we modeled ourselves after POLITICO’s publishing model during this site’s formative years, I am now convinced the immediate future is the one best envisioned by Axios, which relies on a stable of email newsletters to deliver its content. Florida Politics is already there, with five subscriber-based email titles — Sunburn, Last Call, Sixty Days, Takeaways from Tallahassee and Jacksonville Bold. I plan to spend more time sharpening their focus.

— It makes economic sense. While SPB has not suffered from the same downturn the local newspapers have, there is a cost — not insignificant — to duplicating our efforts on two websites. Streamlining our editing and publishing process will allow us to devote more resources to reporting and writing. That’s a good thing.

— I am writing this after seeing Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper speak in Tampa. With all of his successes, Cohen really is one of my inspirations. Something he’s talked about the both times I’ve seen him is not being afraid to let go of something that, although successful, provides diminishing returns. For him, this could be a real housewife who thinks she’s indispensable but really isn’t. For me, this is SPB. What is Mr. St. Pete without SaintPetersBlog? Well, we’ll see, won’t we? Burning the ships at the shore will undoubtedly make me work harder.

— I really, really, really want to get some other projects off the ground, including a podcast (how does “Schorsch Earth” sound?) and/or a long-form interview format that I’m better positioned than most to undertake. I can’t break this new ground if I am tied to a project which has — probably — lived past its shelf life.

The reality is I have not been the blogger who launched this site for several years. I can’t be/don’t get to be the guy who dresses up in a chicken suit to taunt a political opponent. Florida Politics has more than a dozen reporters and twice that many contributors writing for it. So that makes me a managing editor and an ad salesman and the signer of paychecks.

2018 promises to be the busiest election cycle in this state’s modern history. If you love politics as I do, I can think of no better platform to watch it all than as publisher of a site dedicated just to that. So its time to make a move.

This site will remain in place to serve as an archive for the nine years of work published here.

Thank you so much to all of the readers who have made this site what it is. I am forever indebted to you for your interest and patience. I hope that all of you will continue to read us at Florida Politics.

And that’s that.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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