Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Milestone For Bloggers, NJ Politicos . . .

From our friend Matt Rooney at Save Jersey (reprinted with permission):

Art Gallagher is selling ‘MoreMonmouthMusings’ after a 15+ year run, Save Jerseyans.

He hasn’t announced the buyer yet (he’s leaving it to them), but Art dropped the news that new manangement would be taking over his popular Bayshore-based “fair and biased” news and commentary website early next month in a Wednesday morning post

Whoever is about to assume the reins of MMM will certainly have large shoes to fill.

When I started Save Jersey 13 years ago, Art’s site was a lot younger than it is today but he still boasted many years on me in practicing the art of observing, digesting, and making sense of New Jersey politics for himself and his loyal readers. 2008-2010 was in some ways a golden age of New Jersey political blogging; Save Jersey, MMM, Blue Jersey, Michael Illions’s ‘Conservatives with Attitude’ and of course PolitickerNJ and its stable of future well-known reporters under the leadership of the mysterious “Wally Edge” (long-since revealed to be David Wildstein who now leads the NJGlobe). It was a scrappy, fun, unapologetically-Jersey climate in which to learn, one which was accentuated by the media maelstrom of the Christie years.

Art in 2009

The herd has thinned a bit since then and social media undeniably changed the landscape of political commentary (e.g. Twitter, hard as it is to remember a time without it, didn’t arrived in our lives until 2013). Art always kept up, finding new and interesting ways to engage his readership with an editorial bent on Monmouth County and statewide news that was direct, usually irreverant, but with a frankness that made it impossible – even for some of his targets – to take it too personally. I shouldn’t oversell the point. You’ll find plenty of people whose noses were bent out of shape by his editorial activism. That’s life. The point is that Art leaves the political arena with admirers on both the right and the left, something which is becoming increasingly rare in our dark national discourse. Even some who did take it personally still felt like they needed to advertise on MMM, the ultimate measure of any publication’s true influence.

At the height of his blogging activity, MMM supplanted The Asbury Park Press as go-to place for Monmouth County political news. I have often cited MMM as an exemplar of the potential of citizen journalism.

He broke stories, tormented politicians (most of whom deserved it), and forced the political elites in his neck of the woods to take new media seriously.

Art urges Republicans to return their ballots.

He endured personal struggles away from blogging but never stayed on the mat for more than a minute or two. He transitioned to the role of political operative towards the close of his political career and, unsurprisingly given how long he had watched people doing it “right” and “wrong,” proved adept at the role, notably doing quality digital work for Congressman Chris Smith and helping engineer retired Admiral Mo Hill’s 2019 Toms River victory. I still wouldn’t call him an “operative. operative implies ideological ambivalence. Art maintained strong convictions during the entirety of his run.

Art and I also collaborated many times over the years. We cross-posted articles and shared ideas. He sat with me at the NJGOP summit in Atlantic City to interview elected officials, and more recently he joined Dan Cirucci and I for our weekly ‘Save Jersey LIVE’ program born of the limitations of the Covid-19 pandemic. We rarely disagreed but I enjoyed it when we did because I always learned something by looking at the topic a little bit differently than I otherwise would have.

And while I’m perfectly confident that Art and I will stay in regular touch, Save Jerseyans, I readily admit that I’ll miss the collaborative dimension to our relationship very much. Congratulations on a job well done, old friend, and thank you for many positive contributions to what used to be a pretty bleak space on the Internet. 

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