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Roger L. Simon

What Happened to My Pajamas?

October 25th, 2011 - 1:58 am

Today PJ Media sheds its pajamas and officially becomes PJ Media.

Actually, we have had a couple of names before this. The first one — OSM — was a fiasco.

I can’t recall the exact moment after we launched in November 2005 I learned that there already was an OSM (Open Source Media), but I certainly remember how I felt — I needed this like the proverbial hole in the head.

After about six months of deliberation, Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson, Nina Yablok, Ed Driscoll, Steve Green, Richard Fernandez, Sandra Rozanski, myself and the rest of the gang involved in the formation of the blog media company we had always called — among ourselves — PJ Media had decided upon the more “professional” name of OSM for our public debut.

And that is the name we announced at our snazzy (in retrospect a bit too snazzy) launch party at New York’s ‘W’ Hotel — only to find out that it was already taken by a tiny Internet radio show called “Open Source.”

Straight out of the box, our fragile startup company were the bullies on the block. We were ridiculed across the Internet — for a while appearing as number one on Technorati as a symbol of that humiliation — and many were predicting our demise in a year or less. I even began to believe it myself.

But within a week we returned to our roots as PJ Media, a name derived from an attack by CBS News exec Jon Klein on Blogosphere critics of then-CBS anchorman Dan Rather, who were insisting Bush National Guard papers Rather promulgated on the network were forgeries. Said Klein: “You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances at 60 Minutes and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas.”

Oh, really? Well, Rather was soon out of a job and the guys and gals in their living rooms became PJ Media — and we’re still here a half-dozen years later.

The Open Source misnaming was perhaps our lowest point, but we have had our share of further setbacks, notably when we had to disband our blog network because the business model wasn’t working.

But we have had our share of successes too, among them our unique on location reporting of the first democratic elections in Iraq, our early and extensive coverage of the Tea Party movement, the expansion into PJTV with our original brand of video “digitorials” from Bill Whittle, Andrew Klavan, and others, pioneering coverage of the Climategate revelations and the dubious activities of the United Nations surrounding Durbans II and III, and, most recently, the media-leading expose of malfeasance in the U.S. Department of Justice by whistleblower Christian Adams.

We have had numerous well-known figures from the political world, the punditocracy, and the entertainment community contributing to our sites. We have been linked everywhere from Real Clear Politics to the Drudge Report.

As our traffic has risen consistently, so has the level of writing and reporting. Some have even told me our lineup of XpressBloggers (as of today “PJ Columnists”) — from the remarkable Victor Davis Hanson to the mysterious Zombie — compares favorably with the oped writers at the New York Times. (Well, maybe that’s damning with faint praise.) Today we are stronger than ever with Aaron Hanscom guiding the PJM side and Chad Mann at PJTV. The new Tatler and Lifestyle blogs are thriving. PJ Media has been among the highest-ranking conservative/center-right media websites on Alexa for several years. We are now close to the top.

So why then are we shedding our pajamas and becoming PJ Media?

I would be dishonest not to confess to a certain ambivalence, not to mention nostalgia.

But we do have reasons:

For one, the Dan Rather affair is a long time ago now. It’s getting increasingly complicated (and distracting) to explain our name, so that people realize we’re a media company, not a sleepwear outfit flogging Valentine’s Day gifts.

More seriously, choosing a kooky Internet name like Pajamas worked for a time, but we are part of the larger media. We rely on credibility for our opinions and reporting and can no longer afford the luxury of our name being too casual and jocular.

Indeed we have received pushback on the name over the years, pushback that has allowed our ideological opponents to dismiss us or to deny us press credentials often granted other media companies with less reach. Alas, we need a certain amount of gravitas — although not too much, we hope.

Looking to the future, this name change — or, more properly, name evolution — is another way to say that we are here to stay. The stake in the ground that was planted as PJ Media has now been hammered in permanently as PJ Media.

This is not to say, however, that we are abandoning our blog roots. In many ways we will be expanding them, bringing in new writers from the Blogosphere on PJM and new talent on PJTV. Look for an improved comments sections too, with greater opportunities for interaction — and new, lengthier videos for our members with a special emphasis on the Constitution and American values.

The heart of what we are doing is expressed in our new log line: “Voices from a free America.” Yes, that’s a little like Voice of America, but there are significant differences. I call your attention to the plural in voices, because we are many, and sometimes conflicting, voices, and to the word “free,” which is the essence of the country whose foundation and values we wish to preserve.

It’s almost always true on the Internet that change creates dissension. People like the same old/same old even in this newest of mediums. So we expect the new PJ Media name and layout will engender its fair share of criticisms. Indeed we welcome your comments and suggestions. Have at us. (Though please be patient in terms of technical issues for the next day or two, as we sort out the myriad of updates inherent in switching over to the new URL and Website design.)

Meanwhile, you’re free to call us “Pajamas” forever, of course. We may even do that ourselves, internally and with some affection. But like everyone else, we are moving inexorably into the future, always bearing in mind the words of Satchel Paige in the baseball immortal’s Six Rules for a Long Life: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

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