Veteran journalist Robert Stacy McCain will be joining the staff of ViralRead.com as editor in chief, the New Media site’s publisher announced Wednesday. “While we’re quietly building out ViralRead for its official launch, I’m sure we just sent a loud signal,” said Ali A. Akbar, president of Viral Read’s parent company, Pundit Syndication LLC. “Robert Stacy McCain’s experience is going to firm our foundation as we creep closer to our official launch.”
Akbar, an influential young digital strategist and entrepreneur, emphasized the value of McCain’s 27 years of experience in both traditional and online media to ViralRead, a site that made its online debut last year, though it will officially launch at the beginning of spring.
“What first attracted us in acquiring Stacy’s online property was his unique ability to monetize his blog,” said Akbar, who will host a ViralRead party Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). “This is only the beginning.”
As a correspondent for The American Spectator, McCain has specialized in covering election campaigns, cultural trends and political controversy since 2008, filing dateline coverage from locations as distant as Wasilla, Alaska, and Boca Raton, Florida. He covered the 2012 presidential campaign from the Iowa caucuses all the way to the bitter end in the key swing state of Ohio. His Election Night column, “Doomed Beyond All Hope of Redemption,” was widely cited as a conservative reaction to the defeat of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
His personal blog, The Other McCain, was named as a joking derogatory reference to one of his distant cousins, an unsuccessful politician. The blog garnered more than a million visits in McCain’s first year as a full-time blogger, inspiring his popular and semi-humorous post, “How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog in Less Than a Year.” In the acquisition, ViralRead will also acquire co-bloggers Chris “Smitty” Smith, a veteran Navy officer and career IT specialist, joined the site in spring 2009, and contributor “Wombat” (an Army veteran) came aboard in fall 2010 to produce the daily “Live at Five” news roundup. The blog has garnered more than 15 million page-views since 2008. His Twitter account, @rsmccain, has more than 18,000 followers.
A native of Atlanta and a 1983 graduate of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University, McCain learned his journalism skills on the job since 1986, when he hired on as a $4.50-an-hour staff writer at a tiny weekly newspaper in Austell, Ga. By 1987, he was sports editor of the twice-weekly Calhoun (Ga.) Times and, in 1991, joined the staff of the daily Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune as a special projects editor.
In 1996, McCain’s series of columns about the National Standards for U.S. History was awarded the George Washington Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. In November 1997, McCain joined the staff of The Washington Times as an assistant national editor for the leading conservative newspaper in the nation’s capital. He became the editor of the newspaper’s Culture page in 2003, and also contributed as a reporter and occasional columnist to the paper’s coverage of major national issues.
McCain got his first Drudge-linked exclusive in February 1999 when he reported media mogul Ted Turner’s disparaging comments about Pope John Paul II. In 2006, he co-authored (with Lynn Vincent) the book Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime, and Corruption in the Democratic Party. After more than 10 years with The Washington Times, he resigned in January 2008 taking a research project that took him to Uganda and numerous freelance projects.
“Journalism is not rocket science,” McCain said Wednesday. “As one of my first editors told me, ‘Just get the facts right and they can’t touch you.’ Applying those old-school principles to New Media is the secret of success in the digital age, except it’s not really a secret. Hard work, good writing and accurate reporting are more valuable than ever in today’s environment of tight budgets and smaller newsroom staffs. Nowadays, a swarm of citizen-journalists often report the most important news hours or days before the major media take notice of a story.”
McCain added: “The best people in traditional media acknowledge and welcome the vital work of bloggers in helping report the news, and that collaborative approach – gratefully sharing credit where credit is due – will be an important part of what we hope to do at ViralRead.com. I first met Ali Akbar during the Doug Hoffman congressional campaign in 2009, one of the seminal moments of the Tea Party movement, and respect the innovative vision and content strategy he has planned.”
ViralRead.com has grown rapidly since February 2013 when the fledgling site injected more than 30 regular contributors, and has been on the front line of citizen journalism covering breaking news such as the Robert Menendez scandal and other viral news stories.