Some of you may know that I announced on Wednesday that I'm "semi-retiring" from Poynter and launching JimRomenesko.com. Buried in the Huffington Post story about my decision is news that I'm closing the Obscure Store after next week. I'll post "best of" OS&RR stories -- some of the "hits" -- in the remaining days and let you recall your favorite ones, tell us when you discovered Obscure Store, and share any other anecdotes.
HOW THIS SITE STARTED
For nearly a decade -- starting in 1989 -- I published a print "fanzine" called Obscure Publications. Its mission was to review fanzines and profile their editors. In early 1998, I decided to start selling fanzines online through a new site called The Obscure Store. My challenge was to get "customers" to my website. I decided to do that by linking to stories that I found interesting. I had general interest articles on the top of the page and "Media Gossip" items on the bottom half. In May of 1999 I decided to create a separate site -- MediaGossip.com -- for those media stories. It was a life-changing decision: the Poynter Institute heard about Media Gossip (via this story), hired me, and let me work on my own out of coffee shops in the Chicago area -- while paying me a salary that I never thought I'd make as a journalist.
THE OBSCURE STORE EVOLUTION
Over time, Obscure Store shifted from a general-interest news site to a weird-news site. As a former police reporter (and the author of Death Log), I was always attracted to those kinds of stories. Over the years, many similar sites launched -- Fark! -- and many of my readers drifted away. Those other blogs allowed comments, while I resisted them for a long time. Readers will probably remember that I allowed comments for a while, then pulled them after the discussions got out of hand. I eventually (2005?) reinstated them, realizing that I couldn't (and shouldn't) control every word and thought on my site.
I know I have some readers who've been with me from the start, and I'd love to hear their memories of the site's evolution. (I want to hear from Obscure Store "newbies" too!) What's always amazed me is how civil the comments section has (generally) been. While there've been dustups and disagreements, it's been rare when I've had to ban someone or delete an offensive comment. (Maybe I'm just missing them!) A great community has formed and one of my biggest regrets is breaking that up. But.... that doesn't have to happen. There's the Obscure Store page on Facebook where stories can be posted and comments can continue. It's up to you (and I'd be happy to put up stories, too).
So, that's that -- the end of a long and memorable run. Thanks, readers, for being with me for the ride!
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