This is my long goodbye.
For two glorious years, I have had the privilege and good fortune to run this site. Now, though, the time has come to walk away. This was a difficult decision, but one that is rooted in the turmoil engulfing the newspaper business. Let me explain.
Three years ago, I suggested a site that could somehow become a go-to destination for news and discussion concerning the pharmaceutical industry. As someone who had covered pharma for a decade, but was itching to do something different, a web site represented not only a next step in gathering and disseminating information, but also an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and move on to another stage in my career.
Happily, the notion was backed by Jim Willse, the editor of The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, which owns Pharmalot and is the flagship in the Newhouse chain of newspapers. After the usual planning and tinkering, Pharmalot launched exactly two years ago. And since then, the site has become popular and well-known – as of last month, we notched about 11,000 unique daily visitors and some 330,000 monthly pageviews on a 30-day rolling basis. There were accolades from The Financial Times and the Association of Health Care Journalists. I was regularly asked to speak at dinners and conferences.
Meanwhile, as you know, the newspaper business has been declining rapidly and, last summer, the Ledger offered generous buyouts, sufficiently generous that I was tempted to consider the package. And for various personal reasons, that is what I have chosen to do. Yes, there were discussions to continue with Pharmalot – the Ledger, particularly Willse, recognizes the potential for the site and I thoroughly enjoy the work. The long hours and intense routine may be grueling, but Pharmalot has been an extremely challenging and satisfying preoccupation. In the end, though, we were unable to find a path forward.
And so, I am now moving on. But before I go, I want to thank each of you for stopping by. Without your interest, support and, in many cases, participation, Pharmalot would have not have worked as well as it has. Yes, my experience and instinct guided me in deciding how to do certain things, but without your input and feedback, Pharmalot would not have had the same appeal. That’s because this was not just another site for information or the equivalent of a morning newspaper, but also a place where people could meet to discuss and debate all sorts of issues concerning the pharmaceutical industry. In short, we developed a community together.
And what a community. Some of you angrily attacked pharma. Some of you vociferously defended it. So often, there were many different perspectives on any number of topics. Whatever the point of view, the discussions were extremely informative. Certainly, for me. Thanks to the thousands and thousands of comments posted here, I have learned a great deal about the business, science and policy issues that shape and confront this industry. Hopefully, many of you feel the same way. After all, no one has cornered the market on knowledge, try as we may.
There are too many of you to list by name, but really, you know who you are. I am truly grateful for the prodding, the praise, the criticism, the reminders, the ideas, the corrections, the tips, and, most of all, the encouragement. No matter what you wrote, the fact that you did so at all meant that Pharmalot mattered enough for you to take the time to reach out. Somehow, the site was working, something I could not have accomplished alone.
On that note, I would like to thank a few people by name. As I mentioned, Jim Willse offered unwavering support from the start. Without an editor who has vision and conviction, very little can get done. So thanks, Jim, for allowing Pharmalot to get this far. Then, there’s John Hassell, who was the editor with whom I worked most closely these past two years and who gave me the space to try whatever I thought needed to be done. And Hassan Hodges, who fielded way too many late-night and early morning calls and e-mails when the site exploded or I simply had no idea what I was doing, Without his technical prowess, Pharmalot may have been a blank screen many days.
Last, but not least, I owe a tremendous debt to Mrs. Pharmalot and The Short People, one of whom is not so short anymore. My kids learned that when Dad had the laptop open – which was most of the time, eight days a week – he generally had to be left alone. Somehow, I managed to be attentive, but their understanding was above and beyond. And my wife, well, she put up with me working at home – otherwise known as the Pharmalot corporate campus – which is no small thing. Not only that, she brought me at least one cup of coffee each morning, no matter what. Thanks, sweetie, for being such a good sport.
So again, thank you all for making this such an enjoyable experience. For those of you who want to reach me, you either have my e-mail address or you can simply click on the ‘anonymous tip’ button on the top of the screen and send me a note (but do it soon). I will write back. Meanwhile, I would like to leave you with this reminder from the former Morning Mayor, otherwise known as Harry Harrison, a disc jockey on WCBS in New York, who would often say: ‘Every brand new day should be unwrapped like a precious gift.’ Yes, these are hard times, but somehow, we will get through it all. So please don’t lose sight. And finally, there is this, a refrain from a song that speaks of hope and endurance…
‘May the good lord shine a light on you, Make every song you sing, your favorite tune. May the good lord shine a light on you…warm, like an evening sun.’
So long, folks….