My latest endeavor has been one that I'm not particularly proud of. Under a fake name, I exchanged 21 emails with Tim Wood, the managing editor of Bleacher Report from March 2010 - August 2013.
Things got personal, and although the contents of our conversation were technically on the record, I've chosen to keep most of the gossip about former Bleacher Report writers private.
Wood is a decent guy and clearly still cares about the site that he had a big hand in resuscitating after the founders went through what they've called "the worst year of their collective lives" in 2009. Bleacher Report has been successful over the years at molding the perception of the public while keeping the press one step behind their current movements.
Via Tim Wood, a small glimpse from the past into the future...
In response to whether or not the climbing of the ladder at the company was ever as structured as he would have liked for it to be:
"Climbing of the ladder was not as structured as I wanted. I was always asking for more money. I wanted more tiers of paid writers, so the paid writers could see they were rising the ranks. That was the five-year plan when I signed on for the gig. I think that if we had continued without Turner, we would have created those tiers. I had budget approval to create more tiers, but it was pulled back when the Turner talks began.
Turner wants to homogenize the site. They know TV and TV is built around brand name personalities, so that's what they want from BR. That goes against everything I loved the site for when I signed on and against everything we were building. I don't foresee a good future for the young writer trying to get paid at BR. They will move more and more toward ESPN and most of the other media-conglomerate-owned sites..."
On the constant pivoting of the company's editorial aspirations:
"I definitely am not thrilled with the direction. It goes against everything they built themselves on. I believe we gave young writers a big platform to provide alternate opinions to the generic ivory-tower analysis of ESPN. They didn't just have to accept all the crap being spewed by the big name analysts. They had their chance to show that the average Joe is just as or even more informed than the talking heads.
And when folks proved that hypothesis, we gave them a shot to actually earn some money doing it...
Turner got rid of some higher level guys they didn't see as key future guys - Goldberg, Dave Nemetz, Drew Atherton (the luckiest guy ever, cashing out millions with Demand and then BR, seemingly doing very little at each place, but I'm not bitter)...
Goldberg is a smart guy in his own way. He takes WAY too much credit for BR success. Finocchio is the genius. Goldberg is a nice guy and a fun guy, but in terms of him being the public rep for BR now, we all cringe every time we see something out there. He is not helping to get the right story out there."
On Bleacher Report's potential future endeavors in radio and television:
"A big bet on Internet video, for sure.
I also think Turner sees BR as a brand they want to integrate into existing TV channels, especially Truth and Cartoon Network. There is also a long-term hope of launching a sports lifestyle channel (perhaps with BR as the brand). But Turner's renewing NBA deal and/or getting in on NFL bidding will be large factor in launching that channel.
And on the Sirius deal, yes, I brought the deal to BR. I initiated talks with Sirius, have wanted BR Radio since the day I started. Have always championed podcasts and radio at BR, mostly falling on deaf ears. Greatest disappointment is that we didnt do more with creating podcast network. Writers love it, would have helped build brand and credibility but BR big wigs never got excited about it because they couldn't figure out how to monetize it. My argument was always that this was not something we needed to monetize. It was a brand play and would give writers another medium to build their brand and voice their opinions.
Initially there was talk of an entire BR channel with Sirius. When it looked like Russo was out at Sirius, BR Radio would have replaced Mad Dog Radio.
When Russo re-signed, this daily show became the focus. Thought is to start with one show and if it takes off, build it into a channel gradually."