When thinking about The Wild Hunt, the question I always ask myself is “What’s next?” How can I build on what I’ve done so far, and expand it to new audiences? How can I make my work sustainable? How can I bring the most good to the many communities I report on and for? After months of talks, consultations, and soul-searching, I’ve decided on a new path for this site – one that I think is exciting, and that opens up new realms of possibilities for the future of Pagan media. Starting tomorrow, The Wild Hunt will be transitioning over to the religious dialog and news site, Patheos.com. This move will obviously raise many questions and concerns, so I’d like to address them now, and share my thinking on why I’ve gone in this new direction.
Patheos.com has become a premiere website for religious news, dialog, and information. Unlike many religious news outlets, Patheos’s commitment to modern Pagans has been there from the very beginning, and has only grown over time. They have collaborated on our projects, and entered into a mutual content-sharing deal with the Pagan Newswire Collective, the first mainstream media outlet to do so. Under the leadership of Star Foster the Patheos Pagan Portal has become a first-rate source for intelligent and thought-provoking Pagan content, featuring contributions from writers like Eric Scott, P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, T. Thorn Coyle, Steven T. Abell and many others. Patheos’s commitment to featuring voices from all corners of modern Paganism has been truly impressive. It was Patheos who helped get me onto the Washington Post’s On Faith panel.
In addition to their commitment to Pagan voices, Patheos has an ambitious vision for its future, one that as Pagan journalist I want to be a part of. Informing our own communities is only the first step towards building a robust Pagan media. One of the next steps is making our voices heard by mainstream news outlets. I think that being a part of Patheos at this time will help achieve that goal. One immediate benefit will be that posts on The Wild Hunt will soon appear in Google News search results, which is a small but important step towards bringing Pagan issues to a wider audience. I feel confident at this stage that being a part of Patheos will benefit our community in ways we can’t envision now.
What does this mean for me?
For the majority of Wild Hunt readers, the shift will be seamless. The new site will initially have the same design as the old site (though I may do an upgrade to something a bit more modern in the near future). Permanent redirects will ensure that links to The Wild Hunt will continue to work as they always did. Updates will continue to show up at social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. We are improving the Comments function. Finally, the site will become far more reliable and stable in regards to performance and stability.
Back in February, I was obliged to change servers, because The Wild Hunt was generating so much traffic that it was crashing other people’s sites, and threatening to create excessive downtime for readers. Generous individuals made that move possible, but many of us are still experiencing significant sluggishness and database timeouts when trying to visit the site. The Wild Hunt will soon outgrow affordable hosting options. Simply put, to keep The Wild Hunt sustainable and running on all cylinders, we need extra help.
What about remaining non-commercial? What about the donation model?
From the beginning, The Wild Hunt aspired to run as an independent: non-profit, not beholden or dependent, and as Andrew Sullivan says: “of no party or clique.” This would be hard to do while relying on, say, contributions from Pagan publishers or umbrella organizations. In my years as a journalist for our community, I have been able to report on hard stories, including stories that some of my friends would have probably preferred I ignored. The Wild Hunt has been accused of being not sufficiently on the Left or Right at various times, indicating that I personally have succeeded somewhat in separating my personal views from “the work.” I’ve tried to err on the side of a generally “pro-Pagan” stance, instead of getting caught up in partisan squabbling or single-issue myopias.
However, despite the generous individuals and organizations who have supported The Wild Hunt through the past few years, it has rapidly become clear that our trajectory wasn’t sustainable. The Wild Hunt has simply outgrown its original freebie structure. It’s time for Pagan news to hit the major leagues.
Yes, there will now be (hopefully unobtrusive) sidebar ads on the site, as there are for other Patheos pages. You can see an example of what that might look like, here. There will be no pop-ups, pop-unders, banners, or other flash-based nonsense. All you, as a reader, will do is continue to visit, read, link, comment and discuss, as you’ve always done.
Who owns The Wild Hunt?
Short answer: I, your editor, do. Long answer: The deal I’ve struck with Patheos allows them to host The Wild Hunt’s content, and grants them rights to distribute and republish it, without infringing on The Wild Hunt’s intellectual property ownership in any way. If The Wild Hunt should leave Patheos, we will retain ownership, while sharing republishing and distribution rights. If something horribly dramatic happens – which I don’t expect – The Wild Hunt is free to relocate.
This is a big step, one that I think is a good one. I hope that you, dear reader, understand and support the reasons for this move, and wil continue to be a part of the Wild Hunt community. See you tomorrow – at Patheos!