Five years of Fagstein

So meta.

It was just after midnight, five years ago today, that during a period of extended unemployment I published my first post on a website I had just set up to share random thoughts with the world.

Looking back at some old posts, I realize how little idea I had of what it would turn into down the road. Many of the posts are short, sarcastic comments about news stories, about all sorts of topics I knew little about. There’s no effort to really think too hard about what I’m writing, and the idea of actually calling up someone for comment would have seemed ridiculous at the time. Often I’ll go back to stuff written around that time and cringe a little bit, either because I was far too fast on the trigger or because my opinions were sorely lacking in nuance.

There are more subtle changes that have happened since then. The headlines at first made no attempt at search-engine optimization, and didn’t use tags. (This isn’t just a question of getting Google traffic, but making it easier to find old posts about a topic as well, which I do often to add context.) There were also far few pictures used back then. (It’s a lot easier now, in part because of the thousands of photos in my database I can use as file art.)

As the months and years went on, I started to focus on things that really interested me, that I could write more than a paragraph or two about. That turned out to mainly be media, but to a lesser extent Montreal urban life, public transit and other issues as well.

As a result, I’ve been branded some sort of expert on local media. I’ve slowly started developing contacts, actually going out and reporting on things, and even breaking stories (and learning hard lessons about how to separate rumour from fact). Whereas five years ago I would have easily passed incognito in an open house at a local TV or radio station, I’m now on a first-name basis with many of the players in local English media and am the go-to person for TV and radio coverage in The Gazette that Bill Brownstein and Brendan Kelly aren’t interested in writing.

Probably the biggest change to this blog came about when I started posting on Twitter. Those short one-sentence posts got replaced by tweets. The result was that the average post got longer, and the frequency of blog posts dropped from about three a day to about three a week. (Going back to work for The Gazette also cut down on the amount of time I could spend on blogging.)

And, of course, there are a lot more comments on posts now, and despite the trolls, the xenophobes, the stubborn radicals who are closed off to reason, the personal attacks, the off-topic comments and the hundreds of spam comments I have to flush out every day, discussion in comments is among my favourite parts of this blog.

I really don’t have any big plans for the future. I’ve had a few people inquire about advertising, but I’ve stupidly turned them down so far, being more than happy with the money I’m making from my job at The Gazette. As it stands, I’m planning to just continue, using this forum as an outlet for things I feel need to be said out loud, and for news that’s of interest to people who have the same interests as me.

Thanks for reading, commenting, linking, supporting, contributing ideas and everything else you’ve done to make this the one-time second-most-popular local English-language blog in the city. I appreciate it.

17 thoughts on “Five years of Fagstein

  1. SN

    I stumbled on your website (I won’t belittle it by calling it a blog) a few months ago and now check it a few times a week. I find it an invaluable source of information about what’s going on in the media. It’s also impeccably researched and well written. I know you say you’re not interested in money, but I feel it’s a shame you’re not being paid to produce something as professional as this.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, mate.

  2. ATSC

    Same here. I stumbled on your site a year or more ago. I check it out as well several times a week. Keep up the good work.

  3. Dave

    Glad you are still around. I found your website a couple of years ago. It’s very informative. You are the definite go-to place when I’m trying to find out anything about Montreal media.
    Keep up the good work!

  4. Al from Away

    Congratulations on five years…I’ve lived away from Montreal for more years than I care to remember but enjoy keeping in touch with the behind-the-scenes hometown media happenings. And don’t short-shrift your public transit stuff!

  5. joe cannon

    congrats steve on 5 years of great work……my best source for keeping up on my old media stomping grounds…and seeing comments from a ton of people i miss and respect… up the great work…….

  6. Philip

    Congrats. If I ever spot you in person, I’m going to yell “OH MY GOD CELEBRITY” and ask for your autograph, just be ready.

  7. Jed Kahane

    Congratulations on a great run, Steve. You’re a must-read in Montreal media circles, and your incredible penchant for detail and for telling it like it is (even when the truth hurts, sniff sniff….) has earned you the respect of your peers. Hope you’ll keep up the blog, and your independence. Cheers.

  8. Ray

    Congrats on five years. Even if I’m in Ottawa, you’re a must-read. Love your posts and tweets. Just waiting for you to start branching out/franchising your craft coverage to Ottawa, Toronto and the national broadcast media.

  9. bruno boutot

    Congrats Steve. You are the best journalist covering media in Montreal, period.
    And you do it for free on your blog!
    So thank you.
    I also love when you post 40 or 50 photos in a row: you have a great sense of visual reporting.
    Five more years!

  10. Pefder Magfrok

    Keep up the good work.

    Your blog shows the remarkable power of blogs and blogging, the creation of blogs means anybody/anywhere can now become a publisher of information. For better or worse, but Fagstein is definitely for better.

    more pics please.

  11. Chris Kennedy

    Let me add in my congrats to you, too, Steve – you have a well-balanced blogging point-of-view on life in Montreal through the lens of media, with gentle perspective on the English/French divide celebrating the beauty (and other things) of living in Montreal instead of the sometimes hard core propaganda agenda given by some others. You are able to share and capture passions for the city that many (including myself) appreciate. Here’s to many more years of good blogging!


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