Back in 2002, at a Melrose tea shop, I was among a group of bloggers who included David Poland and Jeffrey Wells, meeting to discuss launching a joint online venture. We were all early online adopters who saw the future that freedom from print could bring.
We threw plenty of ideas around that afternoon, many of which wound up on our respective websites, and opted to go our separate ways. Jeff Wells is still publishing Hollywood Elsewhere; I created the first blog at The Hollywood Reporter, Risky Business, followed by Thompson on Hollywood at Variety, which I took to IndieWire in 2009; and Poland founded Movie City News, which he is finally letting go. (He wants to conduct more DP/30s, his awards-friendly video interviews on YouTube.)
In his Wednesday farewell The Hot Blog post, Poland tries to assess the changing media landscape that led to his desire “to work for the other team, if they will have me.” In other words, he wants to get hired by the industry that bought ads on his site. (Poland denies this in an email: “I expect that most of my clients will not be people who have bought ads from MCN.”)
“I don’t know what the immediate future will bring for Movie City News,” he writes on his blog. “Laura Rooney and I gave birth to this thing almost 16 years ago. Ray Pride has been my editorial partner for years. It is still a viable business and website, but the right circumstance to move it forward has not shown itself. But I need to start signing NDAs and doing the work I hope will take me to a very late retirement. I am raring to go.”
The self-described reluctant journalist and critic describes the sometimes “blurry” line that separates tough independent reporting and analysis from friendly promotion. All of us who work in the industry trades have to navigate that line. From its founding in 1996, IndieWire has long sought to support the independent film community and ardent cinephiles, covering the entertainment industry from both a trade and consumer perspective. Even before Penske acquired us in 2016, IndieWire assessed the numbers that went with awards advertising. Those metrics allow us to do many worthy things — including rigorous journalism and criticism.
Poland happily occupied the increasingly narrow movie trade niche since he launched MCN in 2002. He’s had a good run. But despite minor tweaks, the site has stayed much the same: news of the day links, blog posts, box office, festival and Oscar coverage (I was an original member of the Gurus ‘o Gold), and video interviews. But in the end, Poland did not choose to adapt, and so Movie City News could not last.