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Saturday, September 23, 2023

A few thoughts on the 24th anniversary of Capitol Hill Blue

This website remains as the oldest continually published political website on the internet.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Somehow, a decision to publish a one-page newsletter on free webspace offered by my internet service provider in Arlington, VA, 24 years ago continues today as the oldest political news website on the World Wide Web.

Capitol Hill Blue turns 24 today, still providing news without partisanship to our readers.

It began when PSI Net, which provided my web service in our condo in Arlington, sent out a notice that any subscriber now had five megabytes of free webspace for any non-pornographic use.  Using a simple HTML editor, I wrote a column dealing with my years as a Congressional aide and political operative from 1981-1982 before returning to my preferred profession of newspaperman.

I sent out a few notices to friends with requests they read and give suggestions. They did in far more numbers than I expected, and I began to add news items over the following weeks before deciding, on Jan. 1, 1995, to go daily with help from some volunteers, including some retirees from journalism.

I named it Capitol Hill Blue from the start, telling people that some might consider any reporting on Capitol Hill “blue” or pornographic. It certainly got attention, including a feature in both The Washington Post and The New York Times.

By the turn of the century, we had a staff on board, and reported on the follies of Congress and the Presidency, including the antics of Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky their antics with cigars and semen-stained dresses. On Washington newsletter and the Times called us “a must-read for political junkies.”

We were on the web before Drudge, the Washington Post and some news startups that tried and failed. Somehow, we managed to survive. We made our share of mistakes, but always admitted them and moved on.

But the Post and the New York Times now have successful and profitable internet news publications. So does Politico others, and we could not compete, but I kept Blue alive with wire service subscriptions, syndicated articles and occasional columns by me and some others. A news forum, ReaderRant, continues with lots of help from volunteers.

I thought long and hard about shutting Blue down after the defeat of Donald Trump last November, but the threat he and his minions continues and have decided to keep Blue alive to dry and correct the tsunami of misinformation that floods the landscape.

So we remain, and hope to continue, as long as I and others continue to help and readers remain.

Blue started as a fun project. For the most part, it still is.

So happy  birthday to us with our thanks to you, our readers.

Jerry Garcia was right. What a long, strange ride it’s been.

Let’s continue.


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