This is a slightly more personal story than what you would normally find in the news section of 1701News, but I felt there was some important information I wanted to share with you, and felt here in our news section would help ensure that you saw it.
I am the editor-in-chief of this site, which I co-founded with Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth of Roddenberry Entertainment on April 25, 2013. The idea was to join forces — my group, which was behind Airlock Alpha (which debuted as SyFy World, and later SyFy Portal, in 1998), and the great name forever linked with Star Trek itself, Roddenberry.
It was always a bold endeavor, and one we knew would have speed bumps and potholes along the way. But we persevered, basically moving the site from a soft launch to a hard launch at the beginning of this year, making what we hope is an important mark in Star Trek-related entertainment news.
We aren’t the first Star Trek news site, and we’re certainly not the biggest. But we never claimed to be either of those. Our goal at 1701News is to give you everything you need to know as a Star Trek fan, whether it be merchandising, gaming, actors, books, the movies, even the new television series. The fandom for Star Trek is huge, so big that only a fraction of that base even frequent online Trek areas. But that’s OK — we want to report the news that will make you, and every fan like you, want to come back each and every day to find out what you can expect next.
And we do it with our “trademarked” brand of delivering news: with professional journalists, including proper context so you know why we think you should be reading a particular story, and covering things that others may shy away. Since December, our big focus has been on the independent fan-film “Star Trek: Axanar,” which was sued by CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement. The effects of that lawsuit already have rippled through the parts of fandom associated with fan-films, and already one additional fan-film project was reportedly asked to shut down (but fortunately, without a lawsuit).
Although I maintain a very strong opinion in this case (one of the benefits of doing entertainment news, as opposed to government or business news), I also want to make sure you, as a reader, know everything there is to know about this, so you can make informed opinions, whether they agree with me or not. That doesn’t necessarily make me popular, but if reporters only did what made them popular, it wouldn’t necessarily be a brave act. And we have worked closely with various news and resource outlets, like the very detailed AxaMonitor site maintained by a former fan-film writer himself, Carlos Pedraza.
We also work to keep you informed and entertained each and every day through our Facebook page, as well as our Twitter account. You’ll find not only links and summaries of stories that we’ve published on 1701News throughout the week, but we’ll throw in some other fun things, like new or popular videos online, memes that might get you to laugh or think, or even some insight (with the help of the Star Trek wikis Memory Alpha and Memory Beta) to the people, shows, books, games, merchandising and movies of Star Trek.
All of this is done on a site where you can feel welcome. There are no annoying pop-up or layover ads that you have to get rid of in order to read. Our ads won’t suddenly push text down, forcing you to see the ad or scroll with it. Our videos do not auto-start, meaning you’re not going to be interrupted in the middle of reading to shut off a video you didn’t intend to watch quite yet.
Many of those irritating features on other sites make them a lot of money. But we chose to not make a lot of money, because we firmly believe that readers should have unfettered access to the information they seek. We want our stories to be easy to find, easy to read, and easy to share. And we want you to find, hopefully, a vast majority of it helpful, entertaining, and maybe even informative.
So what are our changes? The biggest one is, really, the biggest one. We alluded to this a couple of times in the past, and it hasn’t exactly been a secret — but while Roddenberry Entertainment’s Rod and Trevor will always be co-founders of this site, they are no longer associated with it. In early March, the day before Rod and Trevor were named executives producers on the new Star Trek series for CBS All Access, 1701News was spun off to my team, moving us from a 50 percent owner to a full owner.
Obviously, there would be serious conflicts of interest from a journalistic integrity standpoint for us to continue having Trevor and Rod as co-owners of this site, and also have them producers of a show we would be covering extensively. I know Trevor and Rod would never want anyone to have to wonder if we were taking an unbiased approach to the series, and we don’t either. I mean, our media team here might love the new series, we might just like it, or we can outright hate it — and we need to have the freedom to express that, without getting Trevor and Rod in unnecessary hot water because of their ownership stake in the site.
We miss the Roddenberry team greatly (Trevor absolutely has been a fantastic supporter of the site, and so has Rod — both have worked very hard behind the scenes), but we cherish the foundation they laid to bring 1701News into fruition. And we’ll use that foundation to continue building into the future.
About that future — we have launched our new Facebook social area, TrekTalk. This is a place where you can share stories (no matter who writes them), or start conversations — it’s a complete social area for Star Trek fans. Once again, not the first to ever exist, and not the biggest, but we will work to help it grow organically, and keep it fresh, fun and entertaining.
We also are opening our doors for outside writers, something that really helped Airlock Alpha shine in its heyday (yes, we are working to bring that site back up, too!) That means you could be writing a regular column for 1701News, or maybe even helping us with news coverage. If you think you’re that person, email me directly to introduce yourself, tell me a little bit about you, and if you have some past writing experience, share it. These are volunteer positions (trust me, no one is getting rich off this site, not even me), but it’s a fun environment, and we’ll work with you to help make you an even better writer.
Finally, we will have some pretty big changes to the site itself. That includes a new design that our creative director, Shane Churchman — a man who I think is a genius, and has worked with managing editor Bryant Griffin and myself since 2002 — has put together. If you care about the technical details, we are moving our sites off the Drupal platform, and onto the WordPress platform. At the same time, we’re taking the opportunity to refresh the look.
Will you see it tomorrow? Next week? Next month? I don’t know. But we don’t rush these things, because we’d rather get it done right, than get it done fast.
With that new design, there also will be another huge change, but I’ll get into that in the future, when it’s time to share. Hey, have to have some cliffhanger, right?
I wanted to thank you for sticking with us over the last three years, and hope you will continue not only to make 1701News a home for your Star Trek news, but invite your friends as well. There are some great Star Trek sites out there, and really, I personally encourage you to visit all of them — but please, keep us as part of that regular list, too.
And have some ideas? Suggestions? Questions? Even after 18 years of doing entertainment journalism online, you still can reach me directly. That’s right, I’m just a Star Trek fan like you, and while we might be too far away to have a beer together, we can certainly have a chat if there are ways we can make 1701News better. So just drop me an email.
Thanks for three years! Now let’s do at least 30 more!