I love telling stories. I love contextualizing news, even the absurd or the Florida. I love possessing and expressing minority opinions. I love when I’m forced to learn about something new almost every day. I love introducing people to stuff they haven’t seen. I love being a total idiot.
Launching HyperVocal with Lee Brenner in October 2010 and presiding over it as editor-in-chief for nearly four years has allowed me to do all of that on a daily basis. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity. But after what feels like a lifetime of 16-hour days and a news cycle that’s never too legit to quit, I’ve decided to say goodbye to something I’ve poured my heart, my soul and every inch of myself into over this great run: As such, this week will be my last as EIC at HyperVocal.
My good friend and business partner Lee Brenner will power through and keep HyperVocal humming, so keep it in your bookmarks or RSS feeds or however the devil it is you people read news these days.
I’ve been incredibly proud of our work with limited staff and resources over these years, the real hard news we’ve reported, the offbeat kernels and half-baked nuggets we found and nourished and turned and churned into some of the hottest stories on the web … until the next one. I consider this endeavor to have been an unmitigated success.
Where I’m headed and why in just a sec, but first indulge me in some Award Show Thank Yous while the orchestra tries to shoo me. All praises be to:
Cooper Fleishman, whose convivial perma-grin powered me through long days and who has the best eye for offbeat news of *anyone* on the worldwideweb; James Furbush, an under-appreciated aggregator who joined HV early and knows way too much about Hollywood villain ancestry; Marisa Kabas, one of the sharpest new bloggers in America that someone should snap up immediately; Brett Rosner, a lively newsman who crushed it on the old people dancing beat; Steve Conroy, a Master of Photoshop and Visual Satirist second to literally none; Greg Seals, who should be #1 on the 25 Funniest People Under 25 list if such a list exists; and a special thanks to Every Aggregator Who Ever Hyperlinked With Attribution HyperVocal Stories Instead of the Acceptable-But-Flawed Hat Tip Or Via.
So, where to? Beginning on Monday I’ll be Head of News at Whisper.
Like many on Media Twitter, I didn’t know what to think when Neetzan Zimmerman announced he’d be leaving the daily churn for Whisper. So I downloaded the app, we met for drinks and I peppered my old miserable-curator-loves-company buddy with question after question. I walked away wanting to be a part of this. Cuppa Kool-Aid, please.
Here’s what I love about Whisper: Say you go to a #sport event, or you just graduated, or it’s someone’s birthday, or you’re out with your friends — to which social media haven are you going to post this information? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Foursquare, wherever whenever, etc — all these apps are essentially fighting for the 10-20% of your thoughts and actions that you probably feel comfortable posting with your name attached. But what of the rest of your brain, your curious brain, your party brain, your I-don’t-want-to-get-fired brain, your Am I Alone? brain, your whistle-blowing brain, your this-is-important-but-not-coming-from-me brain, your scumbag brain? Where do you turn to post this stuff?
In almost every news report about Whisper I’ve seen, the app is referred to as an “anonymous secret-sharing app.” I don’t think this is quite right. It’s anonymous, but it’s not merely a place for secrets. It’s a place where people simply feel more comfortable sharing their personal stories, their innermost thoughts and desires, their aspirations and inclinations, their impulses and impulsiveness, their craving to be interconnected but not exactly connected.
As social media gets too big and too public and too self-aggrandizing and too self-gratifying, we’ve seen an increased willingness for users to escape from that culture. Sometimes people just want a place without currency nor network, without retweets nor likes nor shares, a spot for them to open up and connect without revealing the woman or man behind the mask. Whisper is like the anti-Cheers — the bar where nobody knows your name (okay, and in some ways it’s a little like the Eyes Wide Shut party, too).
But there’s a very serious side to Whisper, which is what I can’t wait to be a part of: The app has been very effective in highlighting previously unseen social trends, giving voice to the nameless, allowing people to speak out without fear of reprisal or unfair social prejudice. There is legitimate actionable [and, yes, verifiable!] news value to much of what you see on Whisper, and I want to help my new boss Neetzan and a growing team impart the importance of what we’re seeing on the app.
In the same way that other social platforms became a springboard for this type of real, actionable news, Whisper is slowly but surely doing the same. Whatever role I can play in this, I’m just excited to get started.
Away we go. Thanks, as always, for reading.