FAQ: My own, personal realignment story
It would appear tonight that I am a blogger without a blog. Or at least I’m not sure whose blog to post to. Still, I have received questions, and I would like to answer in some way. You do this job and you have a couple of relationships. You have the one with the people you work for, but you also have one with the people you write for. I feel like I should say something to that latter group, for which I am very grateful. I will have much more to write soon. Tonight, some basics.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
The minute people heard I was moving to a television station, they assumed that I was doing it to be “on TV.” I am a writer. That’s what I do, and it’s part of who I am. WDRB hired me to write. I wrote four columns a week for the newspaper, I will write four columns a week for WDRB.com. My kids just won’t have a print copy of my column picture to draw mustaches on. I wrote blog entries for the newspaper, I will write them for WDRB.com. I did webcasts for the newspaper, I will do them for WDRB.com. I will travel like I did for the paper, write like I did for the newspaper, interact with readers like I did with the newspaper. And, yes, there will be on-air duties. But the driving goal behind this was to create a sports media effort bringing all of those things together that make the web such a forum for sports — writing, video, features, commentary.
WHY DO IT FOR A TV STATION?
If you watch media closely, you’ll note that more and more, they are all doing the same things, no matter what the medium. Newspapers are posting videos. Television stations are publishing written versions of their stories. Everybody is rushing, experimenting, adjusting to the changing ways people get their information. Frankly, it has been a rough transition for both. People talk more about the struggles of newspapers, but local television has taken just as much of a hit. Which brings me to the next question people ask …
The tool of choice in journalism today is the knife. Staffs are cut. Coverage areas are constricted. Employees are furloughed. Some of the most seasoned journalists are bought out. It is not just here. It is everywhere. Every sports staff in the city is smaller today than it was three years ago, or at least no larger. Except one. And that one just hired me. In 2009 I wrote probably my only treatise on the future of journalism. In it, I said I hoped that someone in the midst of all this would take some bold action. What the folks at WDRB have done, in this action, is pretty bold. They have made a considerable commitment to me, and to local sports, particularly in hiring Rick Bozich alongside me. Who else, anywhere in the country, has done something like that in this business climate? While they aren’t a sports network like ESPN, they have borrowed a page from ESPN.com’s playbook in an effort to do something different. I have read The Courier-Journal every day for as long as I can remember. I always will. I have loved working there. There is a pride and determination in the people working there that is more admirable than anyone knows. And the smaller the staff became, the more respect I had for people I saw every day when I walked into the office. It was the job I always wanted. But this new enterprise will be one that is crafted and designed by the people in the room with me on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, not people far away. Yes, they are owned by an out-of-town group, but their local leadership has a level of autonomy that impressed me.
And whether it is a “newspaper” site or a “TV” site or whatever you want to call it, I have craved that chance to not just do what I have always done, which I love, but to create, shift, adjust and innovate on the fly, and based on the desires and interests of this city. I have a great many ideas for the way this kind of local sports operation might evolve and work. The time came for me to do something bold and try them, and I have taken that opportunity. If that makes any sense.
ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THE TIME-WARNER SITUATION?
That’s probably enough for now. I hope my employers, past and future, whatever stage we are in at this moment, will forgive this moment between writer and reader. I consider many of you friends, even those of you who write every day to tell me I’m wrong. It’s been a crazy day. I haven’t yet gotten to talk to most of the people I have worked with at the paper. Nor have I had the chance to even speak to many of the people I’ll be working with. If you are part of a daily effort, you learn fast, the news goes on without you. The paper, the station, whatever it is, it rolls on. You’re only a small part of it. It always comes to the doorstep in the morning, or to the screen. With or without you. I’ve been privileged to work with the people I’ve worked alongside at the paper. It will always be a vital part of this city and state. And I am excited to work with a new group at WDRB. So many folks I should have written or called, so many who have helped or supported or encouraged me. I’ll try to get to you soon.
My children, believe it or not, are upset that I left the newspaper. Apparently, I am raising little anachronisms, children who get up in the morning and page through the newspaper. And we will continue to do so.
I just have come to a time and an opportunity to turn the page. Stay tuned.