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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Capitol Hill Blue: 20 years and counting

The logo when Doug Thompson's columns for Capitol Hill Blue
A previous logo for Doug Thompson’s columns for Capitol Hill Blue

My God, has it been 20 years?  Yep.  To the day.

On the morning of Oct. 1, 1994, I logged on to PSI Net, my Internet Service Provider (ISP) at the time and the email said I now had free web space now as part of the package of $19.95 a month of service through a modem connection.

I had a web page for my free-lance writing and photography business but it was rudimentary, lacking in originality and low on content.

Thompson now, after 20 years with Capitol Hill Blue and 22 months after a near-fatal motorcycle accident.
Thompson now, after 20 years with Capitol Hill Blue and 22 months after a near-fatal motorcycle accident.

But for reasons that are long forgotten, I sat down in the den of our condo in Arlington, Virginia, and wrote about 750 words in an essay entitled: “If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con’ then ‘Congress’ must be the opposite of ‘progress.’ ”

I sent out a few emails to friends, they sent their own emails to others, and my mail box had some comments, pro and con, when I checked at the end of the day.

For another reason, also long forgotten, I created a logo that read: “Capitol Hill Blue.”

For the rest of the year, I wrote a weekly commentary, for “Blue” and readership grew.

In 1994, the only political-oriented news service on the World Wide Web” was run by the Raleigh News & Observer and was called the “Nando Times.”  A friend and former journalism instructor in Tennessee and Virginia, Bob Stepno,  worked on that project, which shut down on May 27, 2003.

The Washington Post did not have a web site in 1994.  In 1995, it started a proprietary service, called Digital Ink, in 1995, but later shut it down and went on the Web.

Other projects by various media outlets came and went.  In 1995, I moved to daily service for Capitol Hill Blue, moved the site to its own server and added staff.

The Washington Post featured Blue in a Sunday story about growth of news sites in the National Capital Region.  On March 8, 1999, media writer Felicity Barringer of The New York Times quoted U.S. News & World Report editor Stephen Smith saying Blue “has caught on as an early warning sign of stories coming up.”

The Hotline, a tip sheet on news stories, often quoted Blue.

But while we had ups, there were also downs.  I had to retract stories that came from sources that later proved unreliable.  One source admitted he manufactured his name and bio just to be quoted with material that did not exist.  Some stories were written by others, some by me, but the full responsibility for every word on this web site is my responsibility and I, alone, deserve the blame for what happened.

After stricter controls went into place several years ago, past mistakes have not been repeated and the paper has not been forced to retract or correct any stories for several years.

Capitol Hill Blue almost shut down in late 2012 when I nearly died in a serious motorcycle accident and I had not put into any backup plans for services to readers in my absence.  The web sites went 45 days without any updates to news stories.

I put my columns on hold for most of the 22 months it has taken to recover from the accident and today’s piece about the 20th birthday is the first column for several months.

Hopefully, Capitol Hill Blue can move into its next decade of existence and continue to be the oldest political news organization on the Internet.

We will be making several significant changes over the next three months and will kick off a new Blue with a new look and new features at the start of 2015 on January 1.

Thank you for being part of Capitol Hill Blue for the past two decades.  We hope to see and serve you in the future.


Copyright  © 2014 Capitol Hill Blue

2 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Blue: 20 years and counting”

  1. Happy birthday CHB! Hopefully we can reinvigorate the site. Back in 97 when I started reading the site it was funny, unique, and had something you couldn’t get anywhere else. Now it is no different in content or opinion than HuffPo or msn. The move to advocating in opinion more power and wealth to the government at the expense of the people makes your tag line seem really out of place.

    in any case I will still stop by and get excited when I see something written by you.

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