One of the initial writers on Duncan Riley’s news site The Inquisitr is leaving today. JR Raphael is a heavyweight in the tech sphere, with a contributing editor gig at PC World and a lot of other big workplaces under his belt. And now he’s leaving The Inquisitr to launch his own site, eSarcasm.
I caught up with both Duncan and JR for a brief interview about what sparked this move. Duncan had this to say:
JR Raphael was with you from day 1 with The Inquisitr. What did he bring to the table?
We were always fortunate to have JR’s services. I’ve never judged applicants by their resume alone, and always looked at writing style and eye for content, but in JR’s case I saw both. As well as writing for MSNBC, PC World, The Washington Post and Yahoo Tech, he’s also won two Emmy’s. Yeah, if that sounds like an insane resume to you, imagine how I felt. The resume should have frightened me off, but none the less he got the gig.
You’ve got an ad up looking for someone to fill Raphael’s shoes. If you could pick anyone within the blogosphere, who would it be?
That’s a difficult question :-) If I had an unlimited budget, there are a couple of people I’d consider poaching from other sites, but likewise we don’t have the budget. We’ve survived despite the downturn, and to give you an idea, if we were getting the CPM rates
and the fill we were getting in Oct/ Nov, we’d have a lot more money to spend now (and a bigger writing team). We’re not offering the best in the industry in this position, but likewise compared to a lot of other blogs (and similar concerns, like the Examiner, AC etc) we’re offering pretty good money.
The person I’ve offered the vacancy to doesn’t have the best resume of the people who applied. Indeed (and I mean this as no disrespect) but by a fairly long way. Our new writer won on tone and raw ability. He/she has an amazing eye for content that works on The Inquisitr, and
a tone in a post that just worked for me. JR is proof positive that strong resumes can help, but likewise I probably employed JR in spite of his Emmys.
So what is this new site of JR’s, and what will he bring from The Inquisitr?
You’re leaving The Inquisitr to start your own site. Tell us a little bit about the project!
The site will be called eSarcasm, with the motto: “Mocking technology since 2019.” It’ll be a whole new kind of tech-comedy combo the likes of which the Internet has never seen. Think The Onion meets PC World, with a hint of Maxim, a pinch of Penthouse, and lots of spicy mustard.
The site’s a joint effort between me and my fellow PC World contributor Dan Tynan, who’s hands down one of the funniest writers you’ll ever encounter. Dan had been cyberstalking me for the better part of the past year, so rather than filing a restraining order, I figured I’d see if he wanted to start a Web site together.
The truth is that eSarcasm could have the power to drastically alter the Web as we know it. Google may have to change its name to Quintillion and YouTube may have to become OooTube as a result of what we’re about to do. And that would be unfortunate, too, because “OooTube” just sounds like a site about monkeys.
Our official goal is to be up and running prior to the release of Windows 8, but realistically, we’re shooting to launch sometime in the next several weeks. We’re actively looking for beta testers at the moment, so anyone who’s interested in attaining superhero-like status should head over to esarcasm.com to get in touch. The enviable title of “eSarcasm beta tester” will no doubt inspire unstoppable lust in legions of beautiful women — or, at the very least, inspire some quizzical looks and gentle rolling of the eyes.
Having been around The Inquisitr from day 1, what will you bring to your new project?
It’s been a truly amazing experience working with Duncan and watching how he’s been able to build the site from literally nothing into a 2-million-page-view-a-month destination, all within the span of a single year. His success has been a real inspiration, and there’s no question I’ve gained a great understanding of what it takes to independently operate a site by working with him since the start. To achieve what he has in such a short amount of time is a pretty spectacular feat. As I told Duncan, if eSarcasm could reach half the success he has in twice the amount of time, I would be thrilled beyond belief.
What are you most proud of from your time with The Inquisitr?
Seeing the site blossom and come into its own has been pretty incredible. No one really knew what would become of The Inquisitr back when it began last May. Even during those first months, there was always a sense of uncertainty as to whether the site would ever turn the corner. Seeing how far The Inquisitr has grown and knowing that I played a small part in that process is an honor I’m proud to claim.
Ideally, who in the blogosphere should fill your shoes?
There are so many talented writers out there that it’d be impossible for me to narrow down any one particular person as being “the one.” I know Duncan’s looking near and far to find someone who’ll be just the right fit and be able to bring a strong voice to the table. If anything, I think his biggest challenge is going to be having far too many qualified candidates to choose from. Whether he finds someone with a familiar face or someone whose name we’ve never heard, though, I know he’ll have selected them for a reason — and I’m sure they’ll offer something new that’ll enrich the site even further.
There is still some time until eSarcasm will launch, but you can apply for the beta right now. For now, check out JR Raphael’s site (with lots of fancy links) and be sure to follow him on Twitter. Naturally, we’ll be covering the eSarcasm launch later on, as I’m sure Duncan will on The Inquisitr. Thanks are in order to both of these busy men, for taking the time to do this interview.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.