The end of Examiner

I wrote for for almost exactly six years. My first story, called “Online conflict often rooted in missing context,” ran on 10 August 2010. Examiner was a strange animal, sort of an online newspaper, which put it into a vast and competitive market, and it folded with 10 days notice in early July.

I had no editor, though in various eras, my articles were proofread for compliance with Examiner standards. I started with one title, relationships and conflict resolution. I wrote 92 of my 184 articles under that title. On 28 February 2011, I picked up a second title, “East Coast Green Drinks Examiner,” focusing on environmental issues related to the production of adult beverages. That title yielded another 60 articles. Finally, on 10 March 2012, I published my first article under the ill-fated “Preppers" title. This was supposed to be feature-type coverage of disaster preppers but most of them do not want the locations of their bunkers reported online, and I did not have the time or inclination to chase them down. Instead, I used this title to write about disaster preparations for the average person – blizzards, hurricanes, etc. I wrote 21 articles under this title.

No, the numbers do not add up to 184. I did not keep most of my perfunctory articles, like Philly Beer Week and Earth Day, though Earth Day 2016 was one of my greatest successes on Examiner. I did not exactly forget the day, but I had been busy and sick and so Earth Day passed without an article from me. I figured that this was bad. Why bother to have a green drinks Examiner who does not write on Earth Day? The next day I wrote “Staying green after Earth Day” – about how to continue green practices after the annual recognition. It was quick, almost a throwaway article, but Examiner loved it and featured it for two days.

I was never an Examiner employee, but instead an independent contractor. I made one cent per click, amounting to about $25.00 per year, or one case of decent beer. Examiner folded owing me $3.00 and change which, per the agreement, it does not have to pay, as payment was in increments of $25.00. So it goes.

However, this arrangement also means that I own all of the articles that I published and I have Word files for all but nine that I did not want. I can see some favorite themes, like personal responsibility, disaster preparation, psychology and spirituality, and environmental conservation. I still have my blog so I am going to organize and, where necessary, polish, then post my Examiner articles on my blog. I am going to keep writing about the topics that I learned were of interest to me. No more obligatory stories about Philly Beer Week – you don’t need Examiner to tell you about it.

I had a small hope that Examiner would take off. There were times when I nibbled around the edges of controversy, like Chik-fil-A’s stance on homosexual couples, but in contrast to my muckraking, flamethrowing days of writing in high school and college, I maintained a cool, reasonable tone. I knew of drinks makers that were environmentally reckless but I determined to keep silent about them and instead to focus on the many good and conscientious brewers and distillers and vineyards out there.

In other words, I was boring. There is no audience for boring in 2016 America. Even in this era of offensensivity (and thanks to Burke Breathed who coined the term and saw it coming, in “Bloom County”), only the loudest and most extreme views get attention. Oh, if you offend some people then maybe your video or blog will be shared on Facebook, as Americans love that kind of stuff, like picking at a blister. It didn’t suit my role as an author about healthy relationships and conflict resolution and it would have caused trouble for me at my day job, which thankfully pays more than $25.00 per year.

Examiner is gone, with the mother company now running a site called AXS, which focuses on entertainment. AXS did not want me, which is a relief. I have monetized my blog and I will tie it in to Tumblr, in addition to my usual shares on Google +, Facebook, and Linked In. I am going to keep writing about what suits me and we will see where it goes.