Celebrating 10 Years of FishbowlDC, Catching Up With Former FBDCers

It’s hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since FishbowlDC first popped up in Washington. Here, we catch up with the blog's founder, Garrett Graff

FishbowlDC 10 years

FishbowlDC_10-years-1It’s hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since FishbowlDC first popped up in Washington — back when blogging was still somewhat of a foreign concept. Plenty has changed since 2005 and the DC media scene is nearly unrecognizable to the one that we came here to cover a decade ago.

FishbowlDC founder Garrett Graff said it best: “Is there any clearer sign of the changed media landscape than the fact that [Buzzfeed’s] John Stanton does the roundtable on “Meet the Press”?

It’s been an exciting ride, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in the next 10 years.

To commemorate the occasion and get a good, healthy dose of nostalgia, we caught up with some of our predecessors, who all left a lasting mark on the site. Throughout the rest of the week we’ll be rolling out Q&As with a handful of them, including Graff, FBDC’s first editor, as well as editors Patrick GavinMatt DornicBetsy Rothstein and Nick Massella.

Our first editor, appropriately enough, is the man who started it all.

garrett-graffWe tracked down Graff, now a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine and former editor of the Washingtonian, to see how much has changed since his time with FBDC.

Here’s what he had to say:

FBDC: It’s been 10 years since you founded FishbowlDC — what has changed the most in the DC media scene?

GG: Everything’s changed! If you look at the January pool rotation for the White House, for instance, fully half of the organizations that now do pool rotations didn’t exist when I started FishbowlDC — from places like where I work now, Politico, to websites like Daily Beast and Yahoo. And there are a number of organizations, like the Guardian, that are Washington powerhouses today and would’ve never been on the radar a decade ago.

FBDC: And how has the blog changed since you started it? Where do you see it going in the next 10 years?

GG: It’s hard to capture just how different “blogging” was in 2004/2005. It was not at all clear that blogging could be “journalism,” and there were a lot of existential questions about whether journalists at “real” news organizations could write blogs. FishbowlDC launched before YouTube took off, so there was no real easy way to put video clips online, and the couple of times that I wanted to snip something off CNN, Fox, or MSNBC, it was this super arduous process. Twitter was years away in the future still and camera-phones still quite a rarity. Without sounding too old-fogey-ish, even little things like ubiquitous wifi weren’t given, so you had to plan your posting day around where you could get wifi. I can’t even imagine what technological changes are going to come about in the next 10 years. Maybe we’ll all watch “Morning Joe” on the dashboards of our self-driving Google cars on the way to work? There’s only one constant in DC journalism: Mark Knoller will be cataloging the president’s every move well into Chelsea Clinton‘s second term.

FBDC: What was your favorite story or series of stories you wrote for FBDC?

GG: The Jeff Gannon/James Guckert scandal, which broke just as the blog was starting probably still remains my favorite set of stories — it was such an odd series of events:

FBDC: And what was the worst/most challenging?

GG: Being a blogger, [I find it] hard to imagine there being a “worst” story. It was mostly all fun — except for a couple of lawsuit threats that never materialized (phew!).

FBDC: If you were the Fishbowl editor now, what reporters or organizations would you be most interested in covering? Any favorite new organizations that have caught your interest?

GG: The thing that’s been really evident to me is that strangely, after years of cutbacks and layoffs, there seems to be an explosion of hiring across DC journalism. There are a lot of organizations out there today with seemingly viable business models that are hiring talented, hard-working journalists to do real reporting — that wasn’t true for a number of the last 10 years, particularly in the years around 2008 to 2011. Reporting on media for much of the last 10 years meant repeated roll calls of talented people getting fired and covering too many of the Post‘s “cakings.” Today, there’s a tremendous amount of growth, flux, and change in our world, and we’re far from knowing what the final digital lay of the land is going to be in Washington journalism.

Thanks, Garrett, we salute you!

Stay tuned for more from our other former editors.