An important message for our readers

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It’s been a while since I posted a message like this, but we’re overdue for a little housekeeping.

As previously announced, Extensive Enterprises — the holding company for SaintPetersBlog.com and ContextFlorida.com — has been admitted to the Florida Press Association. 

This did not go over so well in some quarters. Namely, some members of the Florida Capitol Press Corps, including Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union, Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald, and Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida, downright objected. 

Dixon had some fun  on Twitter reminding his followers of past instances where I declared that I was “not a journalist”; Klas expressed concern about the need for me to disclose who my clients are when I write about them; Larrabee thought it was odd that someone who, as Adam Smith described me, routinely and unapologetically lies to the press is now a member of the FPA.

For the record, our membership is as an “Affiliate Member – Online”, so I am not eligible to vote or to become a director or an officer of the Association.

I still do not consider myself a full-fledged journalist, but I am a publisher. I also employ journalists, including reporter Linda Hersey and editors Thomas O’Hara and Rich Bard. It’s mostly for them that I applied for membership. And since we fully meet all of the qualifications for membership AND believe wholeheartedly in the mission of the organization, I consider the issue closed WITH the caveat that we will do our best to fulfill the expectations placed upon us with the invitation to join the FPA.

To that end, I am implementing a couple of new policies for this blog. 

First, where applicable, I will disclose who my political clients are when I write about them. In fact, in the two most recent opportunities to do so, in stories about Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Kathleen Peters, I have done just that. I really don’t know what insight these disclosures will provide, as I generally consult with candidates on social media and website issues, not strategy. However, I do understand why this is important to journalists such as Klas. I also understand it’s part of “promoting the higher standards of journalism” and since I have asked to join the FPA, I will disclose these relations. 

Of course, the majority of my firm’s revenue is now derived from advertising from private companies, such as Duke Energy and Florida Power and Light, and my relationship with them is not a client- relationship; they’re advertisers.  My relationship with them is disclosed in, well, their advertisements.

As for Larrabee’s complaint that I “routinely and unapologetically” lie to the press, this is an unfair assessment. But this is not Larrabee’s fault, it’s Adam Smith’s.

Smith based this assessment on me, I admit, lying to a single reporter: John Woodrow Cox of the Tampa Bay Times, on two separate occasions.  This is not routine. This is not unapologetic. However, Smith put this blood into the water and there is now a frenzy surrounding these words. But that’s my problem. That’s what I get for misleading a reporter about my political activities. I’ll have to deal with that criticism.

For right now, however, this leads me to another major change on SaintPetersBlog. I have shuttered the “Media & Tech” section of the blog.

This move is long overdue as I only occasionally write about the media, and when I do it’s directed mostly at the Tampa Bay Times. Yet the “Media and Tech” section occupied a lot of valuable real estate on the website. I’d rather see that space dedicated to campaigns and elections, government and politics. 

Second, what’s the point? Criticizing the Times does very little for site traffic. Bitching about the Times does not attract advertisers. Writing the “5 things I think I think about the Tampa Bay Times” column does nothing for my bottom line.

More important, my criticism of the Times comes from a different state of mind than the one I currently possess. It’s very 2009. I’m just not that guy anymore. Really.

I’m not saying there isn’t a need to ask ‘qui observat custodes,’ nor am I not going to ever write about the Times again, but that’s not what I want to write about going forward. 

The next five years in Florida politics promise to be extraordinarily interesting. From the 2014 gubernatorial race through the 2016 presidential race and to the 2018 gubernatorial (no matter what happens in 2014, there will be a GOP primary in ’18) and U.S. Senate races, there is so much to write about other than whether Steve Bousquet gave me the appropriate level of attribution.

More disclosure. Less acrimony. These are the first of several moves we will be making on SaintPetersBlog.com and the other properties to deliver a more rewarding experience to our readers.

Thank you for your continued readership.

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.