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Site News: Here’s Why We Killed Our ‘Friday Sampler’ News Roundup Series

28 Sep 2018

Between May 2006 and July 2018, we published 588 weekly cigar news roundups. We don’t plan to do any more. The “Friday Sampler” series has been discontinued.

Honestly, I didn’t plan to publicly address or acknowledge this decision. I hypothesized that a format change to our long-running cigar site would go mostly unnoticed. I was wrong.

Since our last Friday Sampler on July 20, 2018, we’ve received dozens of inquiries (usually via email, and usually on Friday mornings) asking us what happened. While we still don’t plan to change our decision to discontinue the series, I’ve become convinced that we owe our readers—many of whom have been with us a decade or more—an explanation.

When we launched the series over twelve years ago, “cigar internet media” (or whatever you want to call it) wasn’t really a thing. There were only a handful of cigar websites that didn’t belong to a cigar manufacturer or cigar distributor. And even among this small group, many of the sites only published reviews. That left a void for internet cigar news that didn’t come from Cigar Aficionado, and especially for a short-format summary of the most important happenings from the week. This was how the Friday Sampler was born.

My how things have changed. Now there are seemingly hundreds, if not thousands, of cigar websites out there. Some regurgitate cigar-related press releases as soon as they’re issued, adding little value other than copy-and-pasted dissemination. Some publish their own weekly news summaries, with varying degrees of accuracy and comprehensiveness. Some post news items intraday as events occur.

We don’t need to name names here; you probably have most of these sites favorited in your browser, and that’s perfectly fine and understandable. We do the same thing.

In this environment, you can argue the Friday Sampler is not as valuable as it once was.

That isn’t to say the series brought no value. It certainly did, evidenced in part by the emails we’ve received. Still, we have to measure the impact versus the cost of maintaining the weekly roundup. And by cost I don’t mean money.

At this stage in my life, time is the most precious, most limited resource. And as the value of the Friday Sampler has arguably declined, the opportunity cost of spending my time monitoring cigar news, covering it from the appropriate angles, summarizing it, researching for accuracy, etc. has gone up.

In 2006, when we started the series, I was 23 years old. I was not married. I had no kids. No mortgage. Now I’m a married 35-year-old with two kids, one on the way, a big-ass mortgage payment, and a much more demanding career.

Keep in mind, is not a highly profitable venture for me (or Patrick S, who has his own career, or George E, who is retired); it’s a labor of love. And, frankly, I fell out of love with the Friday Sampler. As the primary author and editor of it, I decided to kill it.

But while the Friday Sampler is dead, is still committed to bringing you important news updates. We will do this not by summarizing everything we think worthy of attention, but instead by focusing on longer-format features as opportunities arise. And we will continue to do so through our unique lens, as I’ve always thought our comparative advantage is at the intersection of cigars with thoughtful, thorough policy analysis (i.e., taxes, smoking bans, tobacco regulations, etc.).

Thanks for your continued readership and trust. My colleagues and I are truly humbled by the interest in our old site.

Patrick A

photo credit: N/A

8 Responses to “Site News: Here’s Why We Killed Our ‘Friday Sampler’ News Roundup Series”

  1. John Walsh Friday, September 28, 2018 at 4:18 am #

    Disappointing but understandable.

  2. Stan Walker Friday, September 28, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    Understandable. I didn’t have time for premium hand rolled cigars while I was working. We have six kids with all the school and sports stuff and my wife had use for me the limited time a day that I wasn’t busy with the above, thus, six kids, I guess. So cigars was a holiday, couple times a year thing. When I retired, no work, kids grown (although you never stop being a parent) and my wife wishes I had more to do to get out of her hair. So plenty of time for cigars. And plenty of time to read up on the subject, which I did, going back and reading almost all your old posts, which I completely enjoyed along with a bunch of other sites.
    I always looked forward to your Friday post because you guys write it like the daily news should be written. Not much embellishment, just the facts.
    So, I and others will miss it, but you need to raise those kids and pay attention to your wife. That is more important than anything else you are responsible for. Thanks for the explanation as I was one of those guys who asked.

    • Patrick A Friday, September 28, 2018 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for your kind words, insight, understanding, and continued readership.

      As I get older, the more I realize how limited time is, and the more I want to be conscientious about spending it wisely — which, as you suggest, means more time with the wife and kids, and less time on cigar news.

  3. Timothy fitzgerald Friday, September 28, 2018 at 7:00 pm #

    I always looked forward to your Friday words of wisdom. Think I’ve been around since you started can’t remember how long ago it was. Always enjoyed your reviews because I considered them honest. Not someone giving a cigar a high rating to get free sticks a get a name. Was truly surprised when a big name got an average review. You were always fair and honest. Thank you and enjoy life and family when you can it goes so fast the older you get. Tim

    • Patrick A Monday, October 1, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

      Timothy — We’re not abandoning the site altogether. We’re still doing reviews and many other things. We just killed the Friday Sampler series. I wanted this to be 100% clear. Thanks for your kind words!

  4. Swede Lindstrom Friday, September 28, 2018 at 8:41 pm #

    “O” yes, time does go by very quickly, as Timothy has said, and when you are as old as I am, it flies! Enjoy your children, you wife, and enjoy your self. Great read every day, thanks.

  5. John Pirani Sunday, September 30, 2018 at 8:00 am #

    Nice explanation, thanks. I’d rather you spend your valuable time reviewing cigars than the work it must have taken to gather the Friday posts. While I scanned them, the real reason I always visit and read is for your fair and insightful opinions on the product. I can get politics anywhere, but you guys are really good when it comes to reviews, among the best on the internet. Thanks so much for your contributions.

  6. Tom N Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 9:52 pm #

    Thanks for the great run guys. The Friday editions were important to me in my formative years of cigar appreciation. Do keep us informed on FDA and other important events.