Magazine and Multimedia Production Startup
Thru Media, LLC, is a defunct Portland, Oregon based company founded by Sean Ongley and Kathleen Dolan, in July of 2015. It was a company set up to launch a new magazine called THRU, and a production company doing business as the same name: Thru Media. The company was administratively dissolved in 2018.
The first idea for the magazine was developed over several years of blogging, and podcasting, on my self-hosted sites. It seemed to me that evolving my websites could give me a unified path for all of my interests: writing, audio and video, web technology, comedy, music, and arts journalism.
I had already posted about 100 pieces on my blogs, called Horizon at End Times, adjoined by an audio podcast of the same title, and from a separate blog called Arts Happening. The latter was a feature of my non-profit corporations’ website.
THRU published more than 300 posts from 29 contributors, ranging from short form music reviews to television-length video documentary.
As I had laid the path and owned the web properties, I acted in the role of Publisher. Kate came up with the title for the magazine and acted as Chief Editor. Ingrid Horton provided aesthetic guidance and professional design services, although she was not an official partner in the company, she developed our branding as a mutual investment in our future.
The content was arts-centric and socially conscious. The editorial directive was to avoid formulaic clickbait headline journalism, to purposefully allow for subjective, long-form writing.
The slogan was, “Every story contains the world.” It is a turn of phrase based on the holographic theory of the universe, “Every part contains the whole.” Not to be viewed as a lofty guarantee, it is an aspirational slogan, a philosophy to work by.
Arts Happening was resurrected in name as an arts events calendar. The idea here was to tie the arts reviews to a separate calendar site, creating a content loop, where we curate a selection of our favorite forthcoming events, then repost THRU reviews on select calendar entries.
In addition to virtual space, the company also built out a multimedia studio in our NW Portland headquarters, and held five art exhibits in the same location.
Efforts to monetize the magazine were inconsistent. Being a creative pursuit in itself, we were satisfied in the way that artists are with process, and money always seemed a distant prospect. The company earned just a few thousand dollars, over the course of three years. Revenue included an Indiegogo campaign, professional services, and online sales.
Web traffic was difficult to maintain. Failure to keep a routine publication schedule could be the primary reason for the gradual reduction in traffic. Still, some articles were widely viewed and altogether we had tens of thousands of unique visitors, largely from North America and Europe.
Originally published at the defunct thru.media, the complete archive is available now at www.thrumediaarchive.online. I periodically repost old content on this site’s blog.
My personal memoire about this project can be read in a series of blog posts here, entitled, Through Media to the Self.
Five Pieces That Represent THRU
The piece above is representative to me of the creative multimedia approach that we tried to take for the magazine. Here, we interview 16 different people regarding different performances taking place as part of the Fertile Ground Festival of new local theatre and music. As they lined up, I took a portrait before their turn. Then Kate let them give their pitch first on the microphone. Guided by her own curiosity, off-microphone she asked simple questions. I edited her portions out, and that became the audio for each artist. And we made our content free for them to repost. These press nights for Fertile Ground were famously hectic, as publications large and small were brought under the roof of Artists Repertory Theatre for a mass meet and greet. Kate sat with the artists while I operated the recording equipment and took everyone’s picture.
Okay, these are two different pieces, but I’m uniting them. The first is a photo spread and written review of the show. The second is a live recording. The execution of these is what I am highlighting. Both accomplish the intent of the media in what I consider to be a professional product on par with accomplished publications. Comedy was fairly well represented. You can also see archives of my Bridgetown Comedy Festival coverage, including an interview with Jonathan Katz.
Kate and I wanted to demonstrate a subjective brand of travel journalism, and we did this by traveling somewhere close by: San Francisco. The place offers a great deal of history and controversy, so it was easy to write many thousands of words on the subject, and capture some compelling photos, audio and video. This is a three-part series and includes all of the multimedia. Additionally, Kate wrote her article about the trip and I know it’s one of her favorites.
It is very difficult to decide what my favorite work from Kate is, but I selected this film review because she gave a beautiful account of it. Maybe I really enjoyed the film, too. We attended the premiere of Olivia Wyatt’s feature documentary entitled Sailing the Sinking Sea, and this is a review of the event. Also, if you just dive into Kate’s work, I think you’ll find a lot of heartfelt stuff. She is working today professionally, as a writer, and I know THRU gave her some of the chops to achieve this lifelong dream of hers.
This is probably one of my best arts reviews of all time. Firstly, it is about Mike Daisey. He was at one time my favorite living performer, at least in terms of monologue (including stand-up comedy). I looked up to him greatly, as he was dangerous, his work challenged the status quo and looked deep into the hearts of megalomaniacal men. His 2016 campaign era monologue The Trump Card was an excellent show. Most importantly, this article shows why and how Trump was about to win. People were mad at me every time I predicted it, but I agreed with Daisey in this piece. Since his dramatic rise and fall surrounding the masterpiece The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I feel that he has fallen into a safe mainstream left status quo, which isn’t interesting. I sided with him when many did not, moreover, he is one of the broader inspirations behind THRU. His capacity to research and directly experience his subject matter was extraordinary and I felt journalism needed a voice like that.