The end of 2016, as something to look forward to or happily bury in the yard, has been written about ad nauseam, so we don't want to reflect on the horror show that was the GOP, the unfathomable disconnect and ineptitude of the DNCS, or delve into the grim "Greatest Hits of Childhood" death list that year presented.
As with anyone in that year of torment, we had our own losses, triumphs, and tragedies.
We are right now, as we've always hoped to be, more concerned with the future.
We're fledgling, if you will, taking baby steps, walking faster without yet recognizing the subtle nuances of velocity and direction that distinguish that momentum from the conscious act of running.
But this isn't about that year; the measured expectations, the whiplash of sometimes lofty, often ambiguous goals, or the risk—managed well or otherwise, the debt, the missteps, the shift and shakeup in tone and personnel and action, and, finally, the hopeful turn into the new year.
No. We won't dwell on that year.
We are right now, as we've always hoped to be, more concerned with the future.
May this be the last introspective State of the Union from a media company shifting focus for the rest of 2017, here's a lengthy mission statement from spoiled's Editor-in-Chief, someone who's maybe sort of—probably, definitely getting sh*t together.
Where we've been
Hell, I'm not sure if you even know who we are or what we do, but there's a common observation we hear from prospective interns, employees, and partners—one that we're looking to either embrace whole-heartedly or ignore altogether (time will more or less determine that).
"You're a blog that's like a cross between BuzzFeed and Time Out! I like it as is, I just wish you did more think-piece things like Odyssey Online."
First, anything list-based will always draw parallels to BuzzFeed, and such is life. We ain't mad, but we ain't that. Consequently, that isn't (and hasn't been for some time, just FYI) all they are either.
Second, we do have a similar goal to Time Out when it comes to hyperlocal guides to the city. The important distinction is a matter of growth and focus, but more on that later.
Third, let's ignore that so far as only to say we are not a blog. This is not a millennial diary comprised of often vapid, self-serving opinions disguised as worthy content.
(Note for the hell of it: We've been deeply personal and introspective at times, but we've always written under the belief that freedom of opinion and freedom of speech aren't inherently mutually compatible. No, they are not the same thing. The difference lies in responsibility.)
Who we are
spoiled NYC is a New York-centric publication from spoiled Media, an experiential media company with the mission to enrich the lives of urban explorers by presenting the possibilities for a better lifestyle.
All of that is to say, we're a handful of millennials convinced that the experiences truly worth having in New York are rarely the ones you go broke for—and, you know, because of how expensive this city is, it's not hard to go broke having fun.
Even still, that's only part of it. The ability to afford the worthwhile experience is an important piece that speaks to an entirely separate aspect—access.
Creating, sharing, and curating experiences worth having is the very heart of what we do.
Experience is a matter of perspective, and as our contributing writers (and our company as a whole) offer a diverse abundance of perspectives, it's important that we broaden that spectrum to include experiences we've had, loved, and shared, experiences we're dying to have, or ones we're still dreaming up—and experiences for who we are and where we're from: black, white, hispanic, latino, Asian, male, female, LGBTQ, affluent, middle class, indebted college student, seeking-loan-forgiveness graduates, unpaid interns—all of it.
There's value in treating yourself to what might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and there's value in balancing the ambition of your life with the means you have. Creating, sharing, and curating experiences worth having is the very heart of what we do.
There's just as much value in a night in re-watching The Sopranos as there is a night getting lost in a neighborhood you've never been to in a borough you rarely visit, and because we're in agreement on that, we're interested in engaging in both of those conversations.
Where we're going
And because we're also creatures of habit, here's a list of what to look forward to: a new weekly newsletter, better content, events, a new visual experience—and all that good sh*t.
1. The Stoop
via Rodney Hazard
The Stoop, launching this Wednesday, January 11th, is going to start out as a weekly newsletter. If you're subscribed to our current, daily newsletter, you've probably noticed that it's just a collection of headlines, pics, and links back to the content on-site.
For some, this is just what they need. For us, we're not in love with it. So, because we're small, we're taking the first of a couple of baby steps in assuring that we present a valuable reading experience anywhere there should be something written. That starts on-site, of course (more on that next), but that continues in our newsletter.
The Stoop, of course, appeals to a sense of community we want to engage in. We're talking about what is arguably "The Greatest City in the World" (a question we want to explore more in-depth), yet our approach so far has been somewhat cold and distant.
We seem inexplicably absent from it. The Stoop is not the correction of that so much as it is supplemental to it.
The Stoop is the front porch. It's where you pick up the paper, where you fumble for your keys, forget something you were supposed to remember, the steps you climb to your own peace of mind, and the last piece of home you set foot to before you head to work. It's a place for neighbors, strangers, longtime friends, family—any and everyone droppin' by for as long as they need.
At any rate, we're incredibly excited about it, and I hope you enjoy it.
2. Re-investing in creativity
What we learned from the second year in 2016 is both wildly different and painfully familiar to what we learned in the first. But learning is important, especially when it comes to what we write and how you read.
Any two-minute scroll through the site will show that we've not been great about "creativity." Sure, we provide snarky, unsolicited commentary with any second-hand news story we curate; and sure, our guides to the city are pretty well balanced with mass and niche appeal.
But where are our stories? Where's the uniquely New York City cultural personality? What about these classically pithy New Yorker barbs at people making a big deal out of leaving the city? We're simultaneously tapping back into some of those roots while branching out into different directions.
We've had all of these ambiguous, unguided discussions about this ethereal "other."
WTF does that mean? Editorial? Video? Branded content campaigns? What does that next level look like, where is it, and what do we do when we find it?
As far as I know, it's shit I want to read that I want to get our readers into; pieces you haven't yet found on spoiled, but I expect you to in the coming months.
As far as I know, it's unique Facebook Live programming that takes a nuanced dive into the deep pools of sexuality, relationships, and yes, even the mundane day-to-day experience, something we've started with Cocktails & Contours, will continue with Sexy Explorers Club (name pending, but launching in February), and will move out from there.
We're also reinvesting in creativity in terms of branded content (more on that later) and the general user experience. Our site will look markedly different than it does now.
The reading experience will be unimpeded by needless, gross looking display ads. The organization of editorial content will be different—EVERYTHING IS CHANGING (SORT OF).
3. Curation as community
Yes, we have the same goal as Time Out when it comes to highlighting cool events in New York City. But they've been around for a couple of decades, we've been around for less than a couple of years, and they're in just about every major market in America and, I mean, just look at where they're at.
We can't create every experience we want, so we look for it. Hungrily. Earnestly. But we want to be better. We desperately want to avoid the overrated - we, as a species, want a return on any investment.
So part of re-investing in creativity comes in the form of taking a step back from how we've approached our day-to-day content, particularly (shit, especially) our trending section. I could go into that more, but that's something you're just going to see for yourself almost immediately.
But we're also re-examining the way we talk about news stories on a local, national, and global scale.
Fake news. It's real. It's stupid. It's really stupid.
We're not of the sustainable means that we can delve into the hyperlocal day-to-day sh*tshow of NYC tragedies, crimes, and every little development thereafter. We don't exist on all edges of the news cycle. We pick our spots selectively when we have something to say.
We'll be more reliant on the capabilities of our local media community to deliver meaningful news in the capacity we can't, but we're going to take time every week to dig deeper into one major headline. It's important to get it right, and because of our patience and limited means, we've rarely been wrong.
We do not intend to change that. We value correctness. We value news stories that have a direct impact on communities representative of our own values and convictions.
We are anti-bigotry, anti-hate, anti-ignorance, anti-shame, anti-trivial, anti-overbearing sentimentality, anti-gentrification, anti-fascist, anti-alt-right, anti-Nazi, anti—we are not a platform that sympathizes or empathizes with the normalization of hateful vitriol in any form.
Oh, and yes - Black Lives Matter. When we talk about #BlackLivesMatter, we’re not speaking in any manner of exclusivity. We are not choosing one over another. The language of "Black Lives Matter" is a matter of specificity for those simply failing to grasp context.
When it comes to the core focus of our company, we have a responsibility to engage in the conversations that have had, will have, or very well could have a profound effect on the people having them.
Whether that's our Muslim, LGBTQ, black, Asian, Hispanic, Latino—essentially each and every minority community being allowed to have any casual human experience at all, or the ever-increasing cost of living changing the way anyone else has any experience in the city, we will discuss those consequences.
Again, we are not making a more concerted effort to deliver the news, but the way we engage in those conversations will change.
4. Boat parties
You came, you saw, you drank, you danced, you drank, we drank, we danced, we walked on water, performed various other small miracles save for finding that lady's shoe.
And we're going to do it all over again.
Each party was relatively different; a motley medley of conundrum and conflict and drink-drank-drunken revelry, but we look for that teachable moment in everything we do.
2016, as its own basket case of teachable moments, taught us that boats are dope. Look out for it. We're doin it thrice.
5. Various other cool sh*t
Gov Ball. We were there. The Meadows. We were there. We're doing all that again—and more. Stay tuned. Also, we turn 2 years old in February. We're gonna party. Not sure when, where, or who's throwin' down too, but we're gonna party.
6. spoiled Labs
Narrative-driven ad experiences. We want to partner with companies and advertisers that provide value for you rather than simply derive it from you.
We're partnering with apps, services, retailers, venues, restaurants, bars―anything that improves your life in previously unknown or unexplored ways, or gives you an experience you can't find anywhere else.
Then again, it's still advertising, so does this come off as desperately altruistic? Desperate is a strong word, but maybe. Ad world koolaid drinkery? Nah, we're just drunk. Watched a little too much Mad Men? Oh, almost definitely.
But this isn't anything new for us. We've tried and failed. We've been ambitious, at some points reckless. But we're dedicating time and resources to things we hadn't. We're, again, re-investing in creativity.
Even when we've stumbled, we've done it with conviction, smacked the pavement stupidly hard, braced ourselves on the curb, and walked away to study not only the size or sensitivity of our various bruises, but admired the many colors they take before they disappear altogether.
So, where does that leave us? Well, we're as focused as ever on the growth of the company—in scope, in theory, in practice, in achievement. That has not changed. We're focused on making smarter decisions, making smarter partnerships—but that's the business.
We're more focused than we've ever been on you, a reader, a frequent visitor, an email subscriber, someone we've met on a boat, run into on the street, or share the train with. So where does that leave you, as this reader, this potential friend or acquaintance we've not yet made?
It leaves you in the precarious position of going along for the ride—if you're game. But we don't want you in blind. We want to know what you like, what you hate, what you're into, what you're tired of. So, hit us up. Drop us a line. Send us an email.
See you soon.[Feature Image Courtesy Chasing Rooftops]