New site dedicated to Pagan bloggers poised to open

Heather Greene —  March 14, 2017 — 3 Comments

TWH – A new website devoted solely to Pagan bloggers is set to open its doors Mar. 21. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, founder Jamie Morgan was able to begin the project. Since that time PaganBloggers.com has attracted the attention of over 60 writers, musicians, and artists, all of who will begin sharing their work on the new site designed by Pagans for Pagans.

paganbloggersMorgan said in an interview with The Wild Hunt, “I hope that [Pagan Bloggers] becomes another destination for readers, because we are all readers, in the pagan community to hear our voices, debate questions, think and learn.”

The site came into being after news of the Patheos contract spread through the blogging community. Morgan explained, “Rhyd Wildermuth had posted to Facebook about the latest contract fallout from Patheos Pagan and in the comments someone wondered why there wasn’t an alternative. I commented back that I could do that then I did my own post and it was off to the races.”

The contract issues divided the online writing community with some staying with Patheos and others moving off. Patheos, now owned by Beliefnet, did amend the contract after complaints, however the change did not appease everyone.

Morgan said, “There were half a dozen people who immediately commented they would like to be authors if I did it, and it snowballed from there.”

In the days after making those comments, Morgan noted the commentary that was free flowing in social media, saying that people were frustrated that the site was being “managed outside the community.” Even though the channel manager is and has always been Pagan and part of the blogosphere, she noticed that, for many people, that was not enough.

“Reading the blog posts around the contract issue I kept seeing over and over the concerns about BeliefNet and how the content was being managed outside the community. It’s a reality of Web 2.0 that content generation of ‘free’ sites means money for someone else.”

She wasn’t surprised by these complaints. However, Morgan added, “I do think sometimes the Pagan blogging world can get caught up in itself and whip up a tempest in a teapot. It’s really easy to feed into that energy when you have a lot of persuasive and provocative speakers who know how to write to get responses.”

Regardless, Morgan recognized that she had the skills to make a new site happen. She has a professional IT background and has worked with Windows servers, managed a fiction story archive, and has been a social media consultant and community manager since the 1990s. “I have the technical know-how, the community manager background and the time in the pagan community to make it work.” She added that she’s been doing work like this for quite some time, although not directly within the Pagan community.

The PaganBloggers crowdfunding campaign began in early February, and it raised 12% of its goal within the first 24 hours. The IndieGoGo page proclaimed, “There is a need for a new Pagan portal, owned and operated by Pagans.” After a month the campaign closed, having funded 138% of its original goal.

On that page, Morgan listed the fiscal structure and her intent. The site will not be a nonprofit, and she is hoping to make project sustainable in all ways. “I hope to pay the authors and my volunteer staff starting early in 2018, which is dependent on ad revenue,” she explained. “My dream is that the site […] pays for itself, which includes all the contributors. Soon it will fall to the contributors to provide that awesome content to get us started and then keep the readers coming back.”

[Pixabay / Public Domain]

[Pixabay /public domain.]

The content is what will bring people back to the site, which in turns helps boost ad revenue. That is the model with which she aims to work.

The potential for diverse content is already in place. Since launch of the campaign, she has had many people sign on to fill that role. The list of contributing writers and artists can be found on the fledgling website. Some names are easily recognizable from other blogs or from the convention circuit; others are new.

Morgan said, “I have quite a few [former] Patheos authors on the site.” However she quickly added that she has “quite deliberately not engaged in debate about the contract.”

“That’s between those authors and Patheos. Not me.”

There were concerns raised about the new contributor’s contract being put in place for PaganBloggers. What expectations did Morgan have?

“Given that the site was created in direct response to the Patheos contract [issue], it is absolutely fair that they wanted to see what I had in mind.” She said that she has been upfront from the beginning. A draft contract was sent out with a two-week comment period.

Some of those expectations are publicly listed on the website, such as that relating to posting frequency, reprints, payment, ownership, and censorship of topics.

To date, no other concerns about the site have been expressed, but Morgan is not unrealistic; she said that she’s probably still in the “honeymoon phase” with the contributors. Question and issues will arise eventually.

Something that did surprise her was that president and COO of BN Media Jeremy McGee donated to the Pagan Bloggers campaign. “He had listened to my interview on PTRN and said ‘there is plenty of opportunity for us both.’ While she hasn’t talked to the Patheos Pagan Channel director directly, she said that “I don’t think there is any bad feeling on the part of BeliefNet about it.”

Jason Mankey, Patheos Pagan Channel manager, agreed. When asked about the new blog site, he said, “Any platform that puts more Pagan writers front and center is a good thing. And I’ve never seen the various blog spots as being in competition with one another. On the Pagan Patheos Facebook page I run articles from the Wild Hunt and Witches and Pagans and other places, I suspect I’ll run some articles from the new Pagan Bloggers site too.”

He believes the new site is going to have some great writers, as well as others that “have never written on a big platform before.”

“I’m really looking forward to reading those voices,” Mankey added.

Morgan, herself, is taking a similar attitude. She said, “I think there is plenty of space and more competition leads to a healthier environment for everyone. TWH, PaganSquare, Patheos, Paganbloggers. It’s all good.”

The new blogging site’s structure is still being worked out, and how it fits into the greater Pagan blogging world has yet to be seen. But Morgan said that people seem to be excited about the possibilities.

If nothing else, PaganBloggers.com will expand the offerings and accessibility of the general Pagan blogging community. Morgan believes, overall, that this one writing community plays an important role. She said, “[Pagan blogs] are a place to hear and debate ideas. Since so much of what I see in that world is exploring and carving out space, it’s vital to have that room to breathe. Next, it gives us a community outside of Facebook, conferences and festivals to continue dialogues, or start them.”

PaganBloggers.com opens its virtual doors Mar. 21.

Heather Greene

Posts Twitter Facebook Google+

Heather is a freelance writer and journalist, living in the Deep South. Professionally, she has worked for Grey Advertising Global, Coca Cola Company and GCI. She has Lady Liberty League and has formerly served as Public Information Officer for Dogwood Local Council and Covenant of the Goddess. She has a masters degree in Film Theory, Criticism and History from Emory University with a background in the performing and visual arts.
  • kenofken

    This is an excellent development! I look forward to becoming a regular reader and supporting the success of the project in any way I can.

    As one of the more strident agitators on the Patheos contract dust-up, I would clarify that the problem for me was not merely that the company is “managed outside the community.” It’s that the new owners family of companies and much of its top management are Evangelical Christians with a very active culture war agenda which I find to be not merely objectionable but morally repugnant and obscene. To my mind, speaking out on social justice issues while steering revenue toward the perpetrators of injustice is not merely cognitive dissonance. It is insanity.

    Was the contract issue a “tempest in a teacup”? Well, taken in isolation as a piece of inside baseball between editors and writers, perhaps. In the context of the times we live in and how the issue was (mis)handled, writers and readers had every right to rebel. The initial wording of that contract raised very serious issues about editorial freedom and authenticity. They were not handled, or even acknowledged as legitimate, by the man who should have been front and center in advocating the Pagan voice on Patheos. It was only grudgingly handled after all hell broke loose and a fine stable of writers broken up like a rack of pool balls.

    The party line at Patheos still seems to be that those of us with concerns were just drama queens and that there never was anything to be concerned about because….”just trust us.” I don’t believe in my gut that they would do anything differently if the scenario were rerun again, and I don’t have a lot of confidence that they would do the right thing in a more imminent threat to editorial freedom. There’s a go-along-to-get along mentality at work, an apparent dependence upon Patheo’s infrastructure and a strain of either naivete or cynicism concerning the nature of the company’s new ownership.

    I would not expect Morgan to wade into another blog’s conflicts, but I hope the new venture learns something from the incident as it builds it own brand. Transparency is everything. We are living in a time when public policy is driven by “alternative facts” where conspiracy theories are routinely cites as news. Where lobbyists are serving as top regulators of their own industries and censoring science which inconveniences them in that endeavor. Where massive conflicts of interest haunt top levels of government and where it’s unclear what country, if any, our president is working for from day to day. “Just trust us” isn’t going to cut it with today’s Pagan community.

    This new venture is critical for another reason: We need to build and nurture our own own systems and infrastructure. I have always said that we shouldn’t build infrastructure just to ape “mainstream” religions, but what we do build needs to be our own. We’ve developed a bad habit of living like beggars and transients when it comes to our religions. Whether it’s ritual or festival space, social media, online auction sites or communication outlets, we tend to settle for whatever scraps of benevolence and “free” deals come our way. We always get burned by these deals, and we whine about it, but then we go back to doing the same thing and expecting different results…

    We’ve had some successes in breaking out of that self-defeating pattern. Wild Hunt is one of those successes. Let’s see if we can pull it off again with this new blog site.

  • This is wonderful news! However, the pre-launch page is underwhelming. A WordPress template and some stock photos? I’d love to see some contributor bios, tentative posting schedule, topic outlines, mission statement…anything, really.

    • Tauri1

      I know you’re not a doctor, but you must have patience! 🙂