Eight years ago this week, an out-of-work horse racing journalist and a former stage actor and Starbucks barista launched a humble website that hoped to find a niche in the Thoroughbred world.
From the beginning, the Paulick Report set out to accomplish two things: 1) cover as much news as possible by linking to existing articles from around the racing world, and 2) shed light on subjects that other publications have avoided, through original reporting that was cutting edge, thoroughly researched and investigative in nature. We weren't afraid to shed light on darkened subjects or poke a stick in a hornet's nest.
As my co-founder Bradford Cummings has pointed out more than once, June 2008 was not the best time to start a business. Less than three months after we published our first article at paulickreport.com, the world's financial markets crashed, leaving many industries – including the Thoroughbred business – reeling. It was a struggle.
Somehow, we managed to survive. Our business model began as a reader-supported site that borrowed from the PBS or NPR “tin-cup” approach. A couple of online fundraisers during that first year put bread on our tables, and we will forever be grateful to those readers who felt the reporting we were doing was worth their support.
We transitioned to an advertising driven publication (yes, I know, you hate those pop-up ads!). I'll never forget the excitement Brad and I both felt when we sold our first advertisement to a business in Central Kentucky. Never mind that we tried unsuccessfully to collect payment over the next several years from that same advertiser. But we were off and running.
It's been most gratifying to see a steady and substantial increase in the size of our audience. From those first days when we measured traffic by the dozens of readers, we can now say we have an online community of more than 200,000 unique visitors per month – and growing. In May, we blew the doors off all previous records for our site: according to Google Analytics, there were 349,906 unique visitors and 1,218,367 page views from May 1-31.
It's no longer the “Brad and Ray Show.” Brad left a few years ago to take on other challenges (EquiLottery, a horseracing lottery game is his current passion) and I was very fortunate to find an advertising director in Emily Alberti who brought tremendous skills and helped lift our business to the next level. My wife, Carol – in addition to being a steadying influence in my personal life when I needed it most – assumed some of the business responsibilities Brad carried. (He, of course, was thrilled to know it took two people to replace him!)
On the editorial side, the Paulick Report is blessed to have an editor-in-chief in Scott Jagow, who came to Kentucky from Los Angeles with established credentials in national radio and television journalism and a newfound interest in racing that landed him at the University of Louisville's Equine Industry Program. He joined our team after completion of those studies and his outstanding work has been recognized with a Sovereign Award in Canada and honorable mention in Eclipse Awards competition.
Our news editor, Mary Schweitzer, is a former associate of mine from my 15 years at Blood-Horse magazine. She has great knowledge of the Thoroughbred industry, both here and abroad, and that experience has been essential.
Features editor Natalie Voss recently received her second 2016 nomination for Team Valor's Stanley Bergstein Award for investigative reporting. An intern for Paulick Report while studying at the University of Kentucky, she joined our staff upon graduation and has developed into one of the sharpest, most tenacious reporters on complex subjects this industry has ever seen. As a horse owner and rider, she also brings practical knowledge to her profession.
Our most recent staff addition, assistant news editor Chelsea Hackbarth, is the second Louisville Equine Industry Program graduate to join the Paulick Report. Chelsea has worked in various jobs on the backside of racetracks and brings a unique perspective and intuitive mindset because of that experience. She has a bright future.
We have outstanding freelance regulars, including Bloodlines author Frank Mitchell, aftercare and horse care experts Jen Roytz and Sarah Coleman, esteemed veterinary and management writer Denise Steffanus, photographers Eric Kalet, Matt and Wendy Wooley, and occasional contributors like multi-Eclipse Award winner Bud Lamoreaux.
I'm proud to be associated with all of them.
Advertising support has allowed us to grow, providing better coverage to our readers on a wider array of subjects, from the people who make this game so interesting, to horse care, handicapping and the business and sport of breeding, sales and racing. We appreciate that support beyond words.
It all begins with our readers, however. Thank you for making Paulick Report part of your daily life.
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