Justin and I are not feuding, but, yes, I asked to be removed from the #Sayfie Twitter Ticker

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Several of my readers have emailed me asking why my Tweets no longer appear on Justin Sayfie’s Twitter Ticker on his site SayfieReview.com. The easy answer is I asked him not to post my Tweets there anymore. The long answer is much more complicated, as it has to do with, besides my needlessly massive ego, the Future of New Media in Florida.

Beginning last year, I have spent much of my working time thinking about ‘what’s next’ for New Media in Florida.The long and short of the answer I arrived at was that it could not be — it just can’t be — a website based on aggregating the work of professional, traditional journalists and the Tweets of the state’s bloggers and political operatives. We can do better. Not that SayfieReview.com is not part of the discussion, but it can’t be the answer. I understand Justin Sayfie is one of the nicest guys in the process, but once I came to that conclusion, I never felt the same way about the ‘privilege’ of having my Tweets appear on his website.

See, to have your posts appear in the Sayfie Twitter Ticker, one must abide by certain rules, including only using the hashtag ‘#Sayfie’ for those Tweets Justin believes pertain to Florida governance and politics. If one uses the Sayfie hashtag and the Tweet doesn’t pertain to Florida governance and politics, Justin sends you a very courteous request to, please, abide by his rules. Break the rules too many times and you risk being removed from the Twitter Ticker.

Hey, it’s Justin’s site, we’re just bloggin’ in his world.

Except Justin and I disagreed too often about what constitutes pertaining to Florida governance and politics. The Tweet I posted which broke the camel’s back was one about exclusive polling data in Tampa’s mayoral race — a race the St. Petersburg Times‘ Adam Smith described as “America’s most important mayor’s race.” I believed — and still do — that exclusive polling data about that race was worthy of the ‘#Sayfie’ treatment. Justin, however, did not, writing to me:

Hope you are well. I noticed two tweets today on the Tampa mayor? race using the Sayfie hashtag. I hope you can understand, as I?e previously communicated on a few occasions, that I can? keep individually monitoring your tweets to see if they comply with the Twitter Ticker rules, so next time I will have to suspend your tweets from appearing on the Review.

This was not the first time Justin (had to) wr(i)ote me about what he thought was the inappropriate use of the Sayfie hashtag. While I understood his complaints, and did my best to abide by his rules (I refrained from using the #Sayfie hashtag when writing about the shooting of a police officer in St. Pete, for example) Justin’s complaint about using the hashtag when writing about Tampa’s mayoral race was when I decided I did not want to play his reindeer games anymore, asking him to remove me from his Twitter Ticker:

Why don’t we just go ahead and do that now, for a couple of reasons, which I would like to explain (do you see a blog post in the works?).

First of all, we obviously have different opinions about what Tweets are related to Floridagovernanceand politics. I believe the Tampa’s mayoral race — four days out, mind you — a race which Adam Smith has said is the most important Mayor’s race in the country (right now) — is probably of interest to many of those who frequent your site.

Just as you don’t want to monitor my Tweets, I don’t want to think about you having to monitor my Tweets. I primarily use, and will continue to use, the Sayfie hashtag for those online readers who use TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc.

But more important, I’ve come to realize we are strategic competitors, albeit friendly and respectfulcompetitors. We are competing for the same advertising dollars (even if the definition here of competition is me nipping at your heels.) Since your site is one mostly ofaggregation, the reason readers come back to it for a second helping is because of the Tweet ticker, right? Since I am, by any definition, one of the most active and influentialTweeters in Florida politics, I am essentially providing content for your site…
At this point, many of those coming to your site are probably coming to my site and vice-versa. Sure, some readers will never notice that my Tweets and updates are missing from your ticker, but I am sure some will. But the growth of my sites has never slowed and I think it’s time to take off-the-training wheels. I notice that many of the state’s major political writers in traditional media do not use #Sayfie and they seem to be doing okay.
Of course, no one has ever really challenged the idea of relying on #Sayfie to talk about Florida politics.
I appreciate you first adding me to your site’s Twitter aggregator. But at this point, if you would please do me a favor and remove my Tweets from the Sayfie Ticker.
Admittedly, my response smacked a little of cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I genuinely did not want to be edited — at any level — by anyone else. That’s why I blog for myself, rather than write for someone else, right?
But this issue is also about something more than not wanting to abide by someone else’s rules. It’s really about what is going on in the industry of New Media.
Like I said, I’ve spent the last year thinking about this issue and, while I don’t have the answers, I now know what the answer can’t be. More important, more or more smart people are asking ‘what’s next’: Ron Sachs Communications launched a digital division, Harris Media hung out a shingle in Tallahassee, LobbyTools just launched a free version of the Florida Current, the Orlando Sentinel assigned a reporter to cover just New Media. All of these are indications of green shoots in the burgeoning New Media Industry.
As for my life, I know my life has completely changed — and seems to change everyday — because of this website and my other online projects. And I’ve always thought of Justin Sayfie as a godfather of Florida’s New Media industry, but I’m all grown up now. Sure, I’ll keep using the #Sayfie hashtag for those readers who rely on TweetDeck, HootSuite and other similar services. But, like many of the professionals writing for traditional media outlets, I have to take off the training wheels.

Look for some very interesting developments on this website and on my other sites — for example, we are currently redesigning BattlegroundTampaBay.com to be ready for the 2012 campaign season — as I hope to be one of many sources of news and information about America’s most politically crucial state.

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.