Wednesday, December 1, 2010

sportspressnw.com | Local Sports, Local Writers

About a eighteen months ago I had a chat with Art Thiel. Our discussion was about the end of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. On that day, June 1, 2009, Publicola.net announced that its online political newsy publication had secured financial backing. Mr. Thiel told me about his idea to try an online sports publication.
Here is a bit of that 2009 conversation:
Mike: At the same time, if you step away from here, and create your own, you are then competing with the PI or Hearst as an online entity, if you go that direction. So, people choosing to go that direction, it seems to me, that they, were, were people breaking into specialty subjects, or how did that come about?

Art: There was nothing that organized. It was just everybody who just thought that they had a talent or a skill who wanted to try to pursue it, who were looking at options. But, I mean, there’s maybe a collection of 15 to 20 people contributing to Seattle Post-Globe, which is the biggest group. But there is another group just started, just today, called investigate west (www.invw.org launches July 8th), which is lead by assistant metro editor Rita Hibbard and has several people who made their living investigative reporting, are together, for a website, that they hope will be sponsored. And, I think they had affiliation with University of Washington grant money that will help sustain them for a while. That’s another experiment. I’m working on a website with my colleague Steve Rudman that will off sports commentary, per haps, on a subscription basis (www.nwsportspress.com).
So, everybody’s got a different agenda, and a different timeline. And, obviously, it varies with urgency, a lot of people with younger kids are saying I’ll take any job I can get; PR, or construction.

Mike: But that’s not your position, that’s not where you’re at?

Art: Right, I want to continue in journalism, and I want to continue with this website. And the PI, also, Hearst did not fully commit to the electronic version until early in March. So, we didn’t know if they were going to pull this trigger, and they finally did. And they belatedly, at the end of that period, said ok, “you, you, you, and you”, and these steps [gestures] go up to the second floor where they were meeting everyone and making their proposals. And so, it was a very strange period there in mid-March where the phone would ring, and somebody would say, “come up stairs to the meeting room”. So, you’d watch who would go up the stairs to see who got the job, or, they came back down and said “no”, ‘cause some people did turn it down.
I did not follow-up and post the rest of our conversation, and at some point it migrated to the back burner.

It is good to see this come to life. It reminds me of what I haven't done, and what a benefit it is to have more voices in the local sports media.

Here is is, SportsPressNW.com | Local Sports, Local Writers
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About Sportspress Northwest

From Art Thiel and Steve Rudman, co-founders:

The coin of the realm, we are told regarding online content, is traffic. And traffic, it is said, travels best on the big, lower road.

So if success is sought, we are informed, we will pursue stories such as this:

WOODS, PALIN DENY BALLOON BOY IS THEIR LOVE CHILD; OCTOMOM SAYS, ‘HE’S MINE!’

Nah.

Welcome to Sportspress Northwest, where insight is our focus and content is king.

That’s not to say we aren’t having fun. But we’ve chosen the highway.

We’re covering Northwest sports with local writers, videographers and photographers who enjoy journalism’s standards, technology’s opportunities and users’ passion. We enjoy good writing and clear thinking. We like to look ahead, and look back, to get a clue about where we are today.

The media biz is in tumult, but that doesn’t mean there’s been much change in sports fans’ desires to be well-informed, amused, provoked and inspired.

We co-founded Sportspress Northwest Inc., and assembled a staff of savvy, credentialed journalists, in the belief that there are decent livings to be made on the web providing quality commentary, reporting and research for a large, local market of sports passionates. Yes, it’s a niche appeal, but with more than 50 years of combined journalism experience between us, we know this place has the capital, advertisers, sponsors and consumers to help experienced local journalists sustain a new effort at entrepreneurial journalism for a popular subject.

So we’re taking a little risk — free, fresh, familiar and, we hope, fun for Seattle and the Northwest.

Twenty-one months after the demise of the print paper where we worked, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, we start again with contemporary commentary, news, biography and history on platforms of audio and video as well as text and photos, using an able stable of pros who provide original reporting with minimal aggregation of content from other sources.

At the beginning, Sportspress Northwest is devoted to the how and why, not the what, of our five most popular teams –- Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners and University of Washington football and basketball.

Our main home-page feature, Pressing the Point, contains a rotation of our best stuff – columns, analyses and major features on events, issues, personalities and trends. Next door is Daily Beat, stories about the most significant developments on the teams in their seasons.

The primary navigation bar provides drop-down menus for each team that contain the most comprehensive seasonal information found under a single click in any local medium.

Under Rosters, you will find biographies of every current major league player in town. Read up on the playing histories of Ichiro, Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck, and you will win so many bets you will face the threat of banishment from the bar.

So too with Timelines, which chronicle all the teams’ non-game developments. Nowhere else will you find all 250-plus transactions the Seahawks have made since Pete Carroll became coach.

The bottom half of the home page is The Field of Play, where a collection of wry, informed takes, especially including the Exit 164 column by Seth Kolloen, will provide you the edge in every sports conversation.

Because our emphasis in Pressing the Point is on the how and why, game stories are secondary – most fans these days know outcomes instantly. But an account of every game in 2010 is available under Recaps, so you can grasp the sweep of a season and find key trends, moments and records in a single file.

Now and in the coming months we will roll out The Vault, the most comprehensive almanac and reference work ever assembled for a local market. It will be part of a collection of new, premium features that will include a modest annual membership in the Sportspress Northwest community.

With success, we will expand coverage to more sports – Storm, Seattle U. and Gonzaga basketball, Washington State University sports, preps, horse racing, motor sports, etc. Much of our faith in success rests with you, the discerning fans of sports and our region who have followed our previous work. Joining our new conversation here, through site visits and sharing via social media, will help us connect our sports community locally and around the globe.

We are at the beginning, far from complete. Free of the costs of print, helped by the availability of local media vets and new aces from blogosphere, and inspired by people willing to invest in the aspiration to quality journalism, Sportspress Northwest will grow and flourish — with your help.

New day. Pro standards. Cool tools.

Welcome.

Art Thiel

Awesome!

I just get this feeling that something is missing, but not ever forgotten.

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