The Capitolist is officially five years old this month, and we’re excited about what the next five years has in store. More on that soon. But in early 2016, the idea for a Tallahassee-based, business-friendly, pro-free-market news outlet only existed as a roughly constructed website mock-up. It was filled with hastily written placeholder stories designed to test different features and help me get a feel for how much work would need to go into producing content. The answer? A lot.
At that early stage, the site was hidden behind a firewall at “CapitolFrontpage.com,” but I didn’t really love the name. So I asked a friend who knew what I was cooking up to help with brainstorming more ideas.
I shot him a few of my less inspired concepts, most with a Florida flavor, like “The Hurricane,” which he shot down immediately. He was laser-focused on coming up with a name for me that reflected the site’s planned editorial focus.
On February 6th, he sent the following text message:
“TheCapitolist.com I kinda like that”
He informed me that the domain name appeared to be available.
I replied immediately: “That is catchy. Has many different meanings. Capitol List. Capitalist, i.e. capitalism.”
The name could also denote a person who frequents the capitol complex: elected officials, staff, lobbyists, and reporters.
And so, “The Capitolist” ticked all the right boxes for me: it was short, memorable, and it was versatile. I forked over the eleven dollars required to register the domain on the internet, and began the process of revising graphics and logos.
Then, I hit a snag. The matching Twitter handle and Facebook page were already taken. I approached a Washington D.C. reporter who wasn’t using the Twitter handle, and she graciously agreed to hand @TheCapitolist over to me for free, simply because I asked nicely.
It would take another four months to track down the owner of the Facebook domain name and get the website ready for launch. In that span, I secured some funding to hire our first reporter, Sarah Rumpf, whose long experience as a center-right, Florida-based blogger would prove invaluable during those first few months in operation.
Crucially, Sarah helped me finally make contact with the owner of The Capitolist Facebook page – a very young man who, judging from his apparent affinity for cats and little else, didn’t appear to be the least bit interested in business and political news. I asked him if we could have it. And like the D.C. reporter, he quickly and cheerfully handed it over for free.
Over the past five years, that same Facebook page has grown to over 37,000 followers from across the Sunshine State. I’m grateful for each and every one, and committed to growing it even further.
At the time, though, I was surprised it all came together so easily. The experience helped me realize that so many people are more than willing to help if you just ask. That has proven true time again over the last five years, and I’m grateful to all who have lent a hand, provided feedback or sponsored the site. Especially in those early days, every bit of help made a huge difference in our effort to establish The Capitolist as a daily presence in Tallahassee.
There are many “capitolists” to whom I owe thanks.
Five years later, Sarah Rumpf has moved on, but she and I still exchange text messages marking the anniversary of “Cat Boy Day,” the anniversary when we secured the Facebook domain from that friendly young man, and as I look ahead to the next five years, I’ll remain forever grateful to my other friend who gave me the idea for “The Capitolist” in the first place.