Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Blogger, Interrupted

John Bonnes, The Twins Geek, runs the finest baseball blog in town. At least he used to. Last year he was snapped up by the Star Tribune, blogging from their sports pages, and I lost track of him. It wasn't a boycott, I assure you. My quarrels with the bias of the Star Tribune never extended to the sports page. In fact, I've never stopped reading any sections of the Star Tribune, via its website. (Although I'll never again support them via a subscription. I know they get the overwhelming majority of their revenues via ad sales and my Web patronage probably still helps them in that regard. But, as of yet, we haven't figured out a way to deny them on that end. Besides this of course.)

But I did stop reading the Twins Geek. Hard to say exactly why. His new interface was clumsy and irritating. The Star Tribune didn't consistently display the link to his site in the same place. And on some level, his content changed. Again, it's hard to say precisely how, but it seemed more tentative, obvious, dare I say, institutionalized. Kind of like a Jim Souhan column. (What a bland disappointment he's turned out to be so far.) These issues conspired to take the Twins Geek from a daily read down to a once a month, maybe.

I'm sure he didn't miss my traffic, or that from the since removed, highly exclusive blogroll link from Fraters Libertas. He was claiming 100,000 hits a month, which doesn't seem like all that much , given his status a subsidiary of the dominant news website in the market. But he seemed happy about it, so it must have been an improvement. And I'm sure he was getting paid something for his efforts, which is an infinite improvement for a guy coming from the teaming ranks of our blog-for-love proletariat.

But it looks like the gravy train is over for the Twins Geek. In his presumptive final post for the Star Tribune, he announces the end of their relationship. It doesn't exactly sound like he received a gold watch. Or even an email:

This experiment ends this week, I think, since our contract was only valid through the end of October.

"I think"? At least former Reader Representative Lou Gelfand got the courtesy of a death blow phone call, and an opportunity to accept a humiliating demotion, before he got bounced (for allegedly age discriminatory reasons - lawsuit pending).

Unfortunately, it sounds like Bonnes's tenure included a rather strained relationship with his new mainstream media colleagues. They wouldn't let him play any of their reindeer games, for the most base and most ancient motivations of all. Greed and pride. And, oh yeah, Powerline:

But the most serious criticism was from journalists who felt that the weblog was an end-around of their union, providing additional sports coverage without paying the dictated wage to a member of the writer's guild. In the bigger picture, a divisive presidential campaign increased tensions, when biased bloggers would take shots at mainstream media coverage. Many journalists ended up reacting to bloggers the way pharisees reacted to self-proclaimed prophets.

A couple of corporate lawyers in their pajamas expose the corruption of CBS News and ruin Dan Rather, and the vindictive Star Tribune reporters and editors take it out on the most vulnerable target available, the ol' Twins Geek. A sad commentary on maturity and professional ethics, to say the least.

There is a silver lining to this dark cloud of deadly sins:

As soon as I can get my act together, I'll be moving the blog back to my old site, which you'll be able to access at TwinsGeek.com. I'd be honored if you'll continue to join me.

And I will. Welcome home TwinsGeek, back to the land of no union coercion, no dictated wages, and no precious political sensibilities dictating how far you can progress. As you may recall, we just have one rule here for success. Don't suck.

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