Talk about going out at the top of your game. Ed Hollett's Sir Robert Bond Papers was quite possibly the most-visited blog in the province, before he surprised everyone by announcing, on April 14, that he was going to suspend posting until further notice.
A former Executive Assistant to Premier Clyde Wells, Hollett certainly has Liberal ties. And though he is one of the harshest critics of Premier Danny Williams, it would be simplistic to dismiss Hollett's opinions as politically motivated, since he has also torn into Liberal colleagues with equal vitriol.
Hollett was also incredibly prolific, cranking out long, carefully researched posts at a dizzying pace sometimes three or four per day. He gave no quarter when hacking politicians down to size, and was wickedly funny at cutting through the b.s. and bafflegab.
Many people are disappointed about the absence of Bond Papers from their daily media diet, and several have asked me if I knew why Hollett suspended his blog. Not surprisingly, some thought there might be more to it than meets the eye. Was Hollett being sued? Was there some other conspiracy afoot to muzzle him?
The truth, however, is far less intriguing. The simple fact is, Hollett has taken on two major projects, with clients who are likely to make headlines at some point. Because his policy, understandably, is not to write about clients, he felt the prudent thing to do was take a break from issues-related blogging.
I learned this by firing off an email to Hollett. In a carefully considered reply, he did tell me who the clients were, but asked that I not name them. So I won't. However, there is nothing earth-shattering about them at all. They are garden-variety organizations that pop up in the news on a semi-regular basis.
Hollett made some interesting observations in his reply, which I have posted below, pretty much in its entirety. He begins by responding to my remark about the number of people who are talking about his retirement'.
I would believe the number of comments only because I have had many of them myself over the past couple of weeks.
As much as I was tracking stats and so forth, it is really quite different to hear from people who actually read Bond Papers daily or weekly and who indicated they will miss it. There always was feedback of one type or another, but this stuff was really quite remarkable.
To answer the question of why I stopped blogging, I'll draw you back to the post Suspended Animation. I have taken on two new projects, both of which involve organizations that would make it inappropriate for me to be doing the work and commenting publicly on issues at the same time.
That's consistent with my practice from the first Bond post: I never wrote about my clients or their business or dealt with issues that would cause some problems or issues. This sort of thing is well understood, I feel.
Which organizations are involved is irrelevant. That's their business. The editorial decision to suspend Bond for a while is entirely mine.
The other factor is time. I have a couple of other things in the works which I anticipate will start to eat up more time. While Bond never took as much time as people seem to think, it did take time and effort. That time will be spent elsewhere for a while.
Bond Papers and Persuasion Business aren't dead. They are on hiatus. In all likelihood, Persuasion Business can be resumed with a focus on general PR issues.
On the other hand, Bond Papers is in need of an overhaul, including the migration to a dedicated URL. I have been considering inviting other writers to come on board to make the thing more of a collective effort. That's still in the conceptual stages so we'll see how that goes.
There's no question the Bond "brand" is well established and it would be a shame to lose it or have it appropriated by someone else.
I think there is a demand for alternative perspectives on public issues. My own preference would be to see some meatier pieces along the lines of the stuff I had been writing recently on government finances. If you go back and look through the Bond Archives you'll pretty quickly find there are some threads or themes that run through the pieces on energy policy and so forth.
Well, that stuff needs to be drawn out and some of the historical and background work needs to be pulled together and made accessible to more people. There are a great many myths about Churchill Falls, for example, that need to be exploded. They don't need to be dozens of pages of dry academic work. The ideas need to be made accessible, with links to other work, if available, so people can go back and see where the ideas come from.
In a world where spin and fluff seem to dominate, people apparently have forgotten the substance that is out there.