Giddyup to Gold Derby, goodbye to these great Times
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Six years ago, L.A. Times editors asked me to join them in a bold adventure –- to help this giant among American newspapers transition to new electronic media. I was told that I would be among the first writers hired by The Times to contribute original content specifically for the Web. Previously, staff writers had penned some new text for the Los Angeles Times website here and there, but very little, truth be told. Almost everything that appeared online had first appeared in print.
The Times aimed to launch an awards site. I owned Hollywood’s original one, Gold Derby –- the first site devoted to news and predictions spanning all major kudos. We struck a license deal. Gold Derby was shut down. It became a blog at TheEnvelope.com and its message boards were moved over. During the last six years, we greatly expanded The Times’ awards coverage and worked together wonderfully to make The Envelope a premier new Hollywood brand. Traffic all across the Los Angeles Times website is booming today, and these Internet pages are full of original content penned by a large team of savvy journos who write exclusively for the Web. Now Latimes.com is the second-most-visited newspaper site after Nytimes.com, and it was a thrill and honor for me to have played a small role in all of that.
But human nature being what it is, I always privately yearned to resurrect my dear old Gold Derby, of course, and I had ambitious plans for it. I wanted to make it more interactive –- to empower users to make their own predictions and compete against the experts. Last year, when I told my Times bosses that I planned to do just that, they were surprisingly supportive and offered to help. They took on the job of ad sales and did a terrific job while I remained at Latimes.com writing about Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and more.
Now, one year later, Gold Derby has gone through extensive development, it’s trotting ahead and I need to focus full time on its growth and success so I don’t have time to blog so vigorously here. That means it is time to leave. It’s hard to go. Working here has been not only a privilege but lots of fun –- especially teaming up with such ace folks as Elena Howe, Lisa Fung, Sallie Hofmeister, John O’Loughlin, Francie Berns, Stacey Farish, Todd Martens, Lora Victorio, Jevon Phillips, Emily Christianson, Nancy Sullivan and others. Take it from this awards’ expert -– they’re real winners.
But the awards coverage on Latimes.com and TheEnvelope.com continues. Look for insights from Patrick Goldstein and the rest of The Times’ movie team on our sister blog, 24 Frames, as movie awards season gets underway.
-- Tom O’Neil