The Morton Report Celebrates One Year of Awesomeness: A Cautionary Tale

An honest assessment of The Morton Report's first year.

By , Contributor

Today, April 25, marks the one-year anniversary of The Morton Report. Happy first birthday to us!

TMR was conceived to be an original content site where great writing intersected with style. Of course you can get your entertainment and popular culture news from various sources, but we wanted to make the experience something more engaging, fun, and frankly... awesome!

The fact that we made it to our first year is in itself a miracle. Many sites don't last that long and if we are being honest, we weren't sure we were going to make it.

While the fat cats like the Huffington Post, TMZ, Perez Hilton, Daily Beast, and their ilk partner up with corporations, insulating themselves from the variable winds of the Internet, stand-alone media entities like ours must claw, scratch, beg, borrow, and steal to get the attention of readers, even though, in our humble opinion, our content is superior to much of the regurgitated crap these sites churn out regularly.

Do I sound a little bitter? I suppose I am. On a personal level I (or more accurately, we, as in Eric and I) have poured our life's savings into TMR, believing that the web—a bastion of unfettered free enterprise—would be a receptive outlet for our entrepreneurial spirit. We wanted to create a site where writers were rewarded for their insight and art. Eric and I are writers and, as such, have struggled mightily in the hostile publishing world to eke out a living.

We so desperately wanted to be a beacon of hope for great writers and our business model was designed with this goal in mind, but we soon (too soon!) learned why our competitors thrived where we struggled. Many sites have been publicly called out, even from within their own ranks, for underpaying writers while still expecting them to crank out content. Financially successful sites like Gawker continue to chug along because they pay on a merit-based scale (flat rate plus money bonuses for hitting predetermined traffic targets). From a business standpoint this seems to be the only way to stay profitable for sites that make their money on ad revenue. But where is the art in that?

Silly dreamers that we are, we arrogantly thought we could have our cake and eat it too.

We entered this partnership with the strong belief and implied promise that financial backing was within our immediate future. Sadly, even to this day, that has not materialized. So we forged ahead with our idealistic notion of "fake it until you make it" firmly implanted. Of course we've seen our optimism tested over and over again, sometimes flogging us into states of panic and despair. But somehow, even in our darkest hours, we were buoyed by one important factor: our writers.

While plenty have given up and moved on to greener pastures, there has been a core group who've stayed the course and continue to keep us afloat, both figuratively and metaphorically, due to their unwavering efforts to create amazing content and in sharing our vision of the site.

Also, there other unsung heroes who've given not only of their time and effort, but moral support and we very much wish to sing their praises.

Our beloved executive editor Lisa McKay, who is possibly the most loyal, dedicated and instrumental part of our past, current and future success. Lisa tirelessly mentors our writers, flawlessly edits our content and does more than her share of the work while never faltering in her cheerfulness or dedication. Without her, we wouldn't be here. Lisa, we love you!

Our tech guru Ken Edwards, who helped make this site happen physically and artistically while seeing us through many growing pains. Like a web Macgyver, Ken kept us going using spit, grit and a whole lot of duct tape. Oh, and his birthday was yesterday and even on his special day he navigated us through a major tech glitch. Happy birthday and uber kudos, Ken!

Our PR wonder Bronagh Hanley. Bronagh made every big story we've had happen for us. Bronagh, with virtually no resources other than her sheer brilliance and determination, created a PR campaign that helped usher us into the mainstream media in ways we could never do on our own. Bronagh put Andrew Morton, our muse and namesake, in front of all the big media outlets and helped plug the site to MSM entities like Inside Edition, E! Online, Daily Mail, Reuters, Access Hollywood, Pop Sugar, CNN, CNN American Morning, Daily Express, People, USA Today, Associated Press, Media Bistro, E! News, Fox News Channel, THR.com (The Hollywood Reporter), Deadline.com, Toronto Sun, Radaronline.com, Jezebel,  LA Times, LA Weekly, MSNBC.com, PopCrunch, Forbes.com, PopEater.com, Hollywood Life, ET Online, Examiner.com ... and that's just to name a few.

One final huge thanks has to go the amazing folks at 601am, who swooped in at the last hour (as our launch date loomed large and the royal wedding approached) and spent untold hours making sure The Morton Report was not only a fully functional site, but also looked beautiful. Aaron and his team are amazing and we owe them big time. Seriously, we owe you!

So with one year under our belt, let's take a moment to eat some cake, savor all the bittersweet flavors, and remind ourselves that no one ever achieved genuine success and glory without lots of heartache and hard work along the way.

Coming up tomorrow: TMR's Best of the Year: A roundup of our biggest and best stories!

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I have written and covered celebrity, entertainment and popular culture for over ten years. I also created celebrity web-site Glosslip.com as part of the Blogcritics.org network. When both sites were purchased in 2008 by Technorati.com, she joined their editorial team as Entertainment Editor and then…

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