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Roger L. Simon

Happy Birthday, PJ Media

November 15th, 2010 - 11:00 pm

Sometimes I think Jonathan Klein was right.  Klein was the CBS exec who inadvertently gave PJ Media its name by dismissing bloggers who questioned the veracity of his network’s anchorman Dan Rather as amateurs “in their pajamas.”

Of course, Rather has long been out of his job and PJM is today celebrating its fifth anniversary — but like the former anchor, we’ve made more than our share of mistakes.  We just try to own up to them.

In fact, I remember the opening week of our new media/blog alliance in mid-November 2005 as one giant fiasco.  For reasons that elude me now — some version of being thought serious, probably — we had decided to call ourselves OSM Media (for Open Source) only to discover, mid-way through our gala launch at New York’s “W” Hotel, that the name had already been taken by a relatively obscure online radio program.

My co-founder Charles Johnson and I — not to mention our principal partner in crime Instapundit Glenn Reynolds — were embarrassed.  In order not to appear the new bullies on the block, we instantly reverted to PJ Media, a name we should never have abandoned in the first place.  But that didn’t prevent us from being the object of massive Internet ridicule.

It took us a while to get our footing.  In those days PJM was supposed to be a collegial home for bloggers on the right and the left.   That didn’t last long either.  The two sides didn’t work and play well together, just as they don’t seem able to do elsewhere in our society. Almost inevitably, we evolved into an alliance of nearly a hundred unruly, conservative, center-right and libertarian bloggers, trying to create some form of new media. It was rather like herding cats, as our COO Sandra Rozanski would say.

But we trudged on to be quickly surprised by our first success — our coverage of Iraq’s first democratic election on December 15, 2005. Through our relationship with Omar and Mohammed of the Iraq the Model blog, we were able to place bloggers and correspondents across the Middle Eastern country on that historic day, resulting in much more extensive reporting than was available in mainstream media.  We were rewarded with over ninety thousand visitors, our greatest number to that point.

We had the grandiose plan then of becoming a kind of online blogger AP, something at which we were never able to succeed.  We did better, however, in more limited, targeted areas. In January 2007, we broke the story of Zahra Kamalfar, the dissident Iranian woman trapped for months with her children in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.  In the tradition of Rathergate, we unmasked instances of fake military reporting in the pages of The New Republic. Our coverage of the controversy surrounding the fraudulent Mohammed al Dura video and the rise of “Paliwood” was among the most thorough on the Internet.

We specialized too in mischief wrought by the United Nations, covering the Oil-for-Food scandal, the visit of Ahmadinejad to the Durban II conference on racism and, perhaps most importantly, “Climategate” — all subjects largely neglected by mainstream media until we, or others, pushed the MSM into covering them.

Most recently, led by Department of Justice apostate Christian Adams, with the help of our new Washington Bureau Chief Richard Pollock, we have been in the forefront of breaking the story of the dropped New Black Panther case and related racial bias at the DOJ.  This story inspired our Voter Fraud Watch during this year’s election and will most likely continue to grow as the internal dynamics of the DOJ are investigated by the new congress.  PJ Media plans on being there, just as it will be for similar investigations.

All through this, however, like almost all media companies in these times, Internet and otherwise, we were struggling financially.  For this reason — to the consternation of some and to our own continuing regret — we had to disband our blogger advertising network, consolidating around our main portal, Instapundit and our forthcoming venture into Internet television.

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