One of the things that has been very true since I started the Total Project with a laptop and a cold one sitting at Caffe Splendid on the main square in Jelsa back in October 2011 was that I have always tried to live up to the name of the project.
For years, I was writing six articles a day just about the island on our pilot project, Total Hvar. So much did I write, in fact, that the 9,000+ articles make me the most prolific writer in the history of that marvellous island.
Total Croatia Wine covered the whole country in a way never done before, with wine roads for all the regions, as well as the first online database and map of over 800 Croatian winemakers, from Istria to Baranja.
And our flagship project, Total Croatia News, which has been consistently putting out 25 articles a day, covering politics, sport, business, travel, lifestyle, digital nomads, diaspora, gourmet, and entrepreneurship.
It has been an extremely fun ride, and I am very proud of what we have achieved since TCN launched in July, 2015. The core team has been beyond magnificent, and I am very grateful for so many excellent contributions from so many other writers as well.
But TCN is evolving, and perspectives change. The obsession with being Total and trying to cover everything has been exhausting for all of us, and I think it is fair to say that the quality has not always been what it could be on occasion. Yes, we covered politics, for example, but many of the articles were extremely short and not particularly well-written.
Is it worth compromising on quality to remain Total?
After a lot of thought, I decided that perhaps it was time for some changes. Soon after that decision, COO Daniela Rogulj, who has been beyond incredible since joining TCN in May 2016, decided to step down from her role to focus on sports journalism and building her solo career. Something I fully support, and I am delighted that Dani will continue as sports editor, as well as help us as TCN enters the video age, of which more below.
With so many other things going on, I have decided that I want to focus less on being Total moving forward, and more on quality and niche areas that we find interesting, useful, and which are under-represented.
So I have decided to turn TCN away from being a ‘Total’ news portal which publishes 25 stories a day into TCN, the online magazine with 2-3 news stories a day and around 50 quality articles a week.
We are currently working with our web developer and I expect the new site will be live sometime in October. My aim is to make it free of advertising apart from the occasional sponsored banner.
I can tell you a few things that the new site will and won’t have.
There will be a much-reduced politics section, as we have decided to pause our partnership with HINA, which for many years has been the main source of political information for TCN. A Croatian friend once told me that you can immerse yourself in the daily snakepit of Croatian politics and get consumed by it. Or you can check in to see what is happening every six months, and find that nothing has changed in that time.
There will also be a reduced sports section. Dani wrote an incredible 708 sports stories last year, including about sports I had not heard of – a truly comprehensive job. She will continue her levels of excellence, but with less frequency and focusing on the main sports, as well as the occasional interesting feature story.
There will also be a much-reduced travel section, and what remains will focus on lesser-known regions such as eastern Croatia, where Katarina Andjelkovic in Vukovar is doing such a good job with her Croatian Danube series. Although I am known primarily for writing about Croatian tourism, I strongly disagree with the direction it is taking, and there is only so much you can write about the one-dimensional approach of our official tourism gurus. We will still maintain a travel section, but it will be more focused articles. We will also be bringing Total Croatia, our tourist information site, within the new TCN structure, so there will be plenty of excellent tourist information. And there will also be a focus on medical tourism.
Now that you are aware of what there will NOT be in the new TCN, what’s left, and what is coming? I plan the following:
Croatian news – 2-3 daily, covering the important events.
A weekly editorial.
An expanded business and entrepreneur section, including a new feature, Croatian Entrepreneur of the Week.
A real estate section, both listings as well as news and hot topics. If you are a real estate agency and would like to work with TCN (we already have partners in Split, Zagreb and Istria), please contact me on [email protected] Subject Real Estate TCN.
A reduced travel section, but the addition of the Total Croatia portal.
A weekly interview.
A new section – How to Croatia? How to get an OIB, find a dentist, open a bank account, meet people etc.
A quirky blog with around 10 articles a week – free reign to the creative minds of Iva, Lauren, Katarina, myself, and anyone else who wants to contribute (if you do, please contact me on the email above, Subject Contribute).
A weekly feature from our CROMADS platform.
Integration and expansion of our Total Croatia Wine portal, with a focus on wine moving forward.
We will also be trialling TCN audio, to offer you select articles in audio format. If the trial works, we will make this standard with each article.
And there will be a TCN shop, offering products we believe in and endorse.
I have been many things in life and done many jobs, but being a 53-year-old YouTuber is not something I expected. But it is a direction that we must head in order to stay relevant in the new world order.
You may have seen some of my initial videos (they are embedded here), My 5 Favourite Words in Croatian, Croatian Really iS Logical But Why I Stopped Trying, and Dalmatia: Paradise Revealed in a Sentence. The first one has had almost 50,000 views and was featured in the media in four countries, an encouraging start. We will be launching a dedicated channel, Paul Bradbury Croatia & Balkan Expert next month, where these videos will be published at the rate of 1-2 a week. If you want to subscribe, you can do so here.
We also have big plans for the TCN YouTube channel, which we have not really utiilised yet. We are still working on the final details and I will publish the plan as soon as we have agreements in place. You can subscribe here.
We will also have a TCN video podcast once a month, meeting the unusual characters who make this land so amazing. One of the first ones will be with Steve Gaunt, the dour Yorkshireman in Vinkovci, with his own English pub in a field in the middle of nowhere. Steve will be reflecting on his 30 years in eastern Croatia, starting with his decision to volunteer to fight for Croatia against the Serbs back in 1991. It will be a fascinating chat. And as a little teaser, here is the great man enjoying life in his lovely pub, below.
And for anyone interested, I am also putting my book, Around the World in 80 Disasters, onto YouTube, where I will be releasing a video chapter a week, starting next week. The first two are Homeless in the Soviet Union: Hitchhiking from Manchester to Moscow (1991), and Getting Arrested in My Childhood Bathrobe at St Petersburg Train Station (1992). You can see the teaser and subscribe below.
Before that book is written, however, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners needs to be finalised. The book, which I am co-writing with TCN editor, Lauren Simmonds, will be published in October. If you would like to pre-order please contact me on [email protected] Subject 20 Years TCN. It will be available in English and Croatian, an ideal Christmas gift.
In order to deliver on that, Lauren and I need to focus, so we have decided to operate a limited TCN service until the relaunch next month. We thank you for all your support and interest over the years, and we ask you for your understanding.
TCN will be a much better product when we relaunch, of that I am convinced, and I am very excited about the book, the new YouTube direction, and TCN the Online Magazine. Hope to see you on the other side.
Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email [email protected] Subject 20 Years Book