Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Blogger Interviews: The Big Lead: 'Go there, you must'
We're running a segment here at The Big Picture where we'll interview some of the biggest names in the sports blogosphere. What's the point? Well, these guys spend countless, thankless hours writing, so a little recognition from time to time is well warranted. Think of this as the blogger's version of a reach-around or something.
Today's guest is The Big Lead from The Big Lead. They also blog over at The FanHouse, making us coworkers, we suppose. These guys are good -- they like break stories and stuff -- so be nice to them. And check out their site, you must.
1. The rundown:
Name: The Big Lead
Age: Old enough to drink
Location: New York City, Washington DC
Occupation: Media member, IT nerd, Security Freak
Favorite team: Favorite teams are so 11th grade ... but one guy has Redskins season tickets.
Links to your favorite all-time posts you've written. (3-5)
Do we have to? There's no need for this, really.
Time per day spent blogging and perusing the blogosphere: One guy writes the majority of the posts. That guy blogs so much, his wife-to-be is always yellling at him. He's also the douche who took his computer on vacation and blogged a bit.
2. It's late February, 2006. You just roll out of bed one day, say someting along the lines of, "Fuck yeah!" and start a sports blog? Or did starting The Big Lead play out a bit differently?
Away from the computer, our crew is mostly all talk and little or no action. We had kicked around the idea of a blog for a few months. One day, while fed up at work, TBL1 calls TBL2 and says, 'we need a name.' After 20 minutes of striking out on catchy, one-word titles, this is the best we could do.
3. Take us through a typical day of blogging for you.
Up at 6 am. Sift through emails, prowl the web for items, prepare posts, and go to work. The goal is 5-6 items per day. We're also doing two/three posts a day at the NBA Fanhouse. At night after work, we're scouring the web for more items - but only for an hour, or the ball and chain would kill us.
4. The Big Lead is one of the few blogs that actually breaks some news, a lot of which is media-related. How do you find these stories? Good tipsters? Inside connections? Intuition?
One of us used to work in print media. Sports. Covered just about everything. Spent some time writing for ESPN. Made some friends in the industry. Most of the best media tips come from other media members. The greatest stories are the untold ones. Without a master to serve, we've got the opportunity to tell (or hint at) the best stuff. Like that blind item about the QB and college hoops coach who were both 'allegedly' banging a hot blonde from the Midwest. We'd love to throw a picture up and just leave it...but that's kind of wrong. But if you look at the comments from that post...well, enough about that.
5. You guys seem very connected with media happenings. Take us through your career path -- all the way back to your schooling and internships -- and how your work helps with your site. (If it doesn't at all, well, color us stupid).
High school paper, college paper, couple internships, plenty of rejection letters (all saved in a nice folder that we take a peek at every now and then). Couldn't take the low pay, crappy hours, working holidays/weekends, etc.
6. Dream job? Go.
Oxymoron. If you're working, it's hardly a dream. But we can say this: Blogging is the most fun we've had sportswriting. Ever. Writing without a filter is incredibly liberating. Obviously being a features writer at a magazine like Esquire or GQ or some such suchery would rock, but we're not holding our breath. We've had a few 'serious' book pitches thrown back in our face, but we've got a screenplay in the hopper, so hopefully something will pan out.
This much, we know: there's no giving up. We're that pesky guard who keeps driving the lane, only to get swatted by somebody who obviously can't see our talent! It's like Kevin Duckworth is stamping out shit 'return to sender.'
It could happen in a week or a year or 10 years, but the plan here is to not throw in the towel. We're gluttons for punishment.
7. The Big Lead's signature seems to be -- correct us if we're wrong -- those must-read interviews with prominent media folks. How do you hook those up? Jason Whitlock would never sit down with us. (We don't think, anyway).
Comb the net for someone's email address. Shoot them an email. Point them to previous interviews, and tell them how much kick-ass fun it's going to be. Most of them are down. The harshest rejection has been from Rick Telander of the Sun-Times. He told us he'd have a look at the questions, and then never responded. Hey, shit happens.
Now we will say this - because of a generic email address such as ours, sometimes, what we send ends up in the junk pile (so maybe Telander never saw the questions).
That may have been the case with Dan LeBatard. Sent him a few emails...nothing. Someone shares with us his non-work email. And his response is, 'this is the first I'm hearing of this.' Mariotti has never responded to multiple emails to his various email addresses. We're considering sending him snail mail. Ditto for Kornheiser, Bill Simmons, and Mike Lupica. But who knows if these guys even check their own email. Such is life.
8. There are all sorts of wonderful blogs out there. A few you'd recommend?
And leave one out? Ha! Plenty of truly great stuff out there to read. Like anyone who is fearless, funny, and provides original content. Does that cover everyone?
9. The Big Lead gets a great readership despite it being less than a year old. The content speaks for itself, but it needs to get out there somehow -- especially at first. How'd the initial promotion of TBL go? Message boards? Email strings? And a piece of advice, if you will, for some smaller sites how to build a steady readership?
No kidding - a friend told us to make up bumper stickers. We did the cheaper version - littered the Village (non-New York readers, that's Greenwich Village) with flyers that simple said: "THE BIG LEAD.com. Go there, you must." And when that failed, after every post, we'd emailed every columnist, beat writer, and blogger in the world. And then we did it again the following day, and the next day. Haven't you heard that epic story of the guy from the National Enquirer who broke some kind of OJ Simpson story back in the day because he called a glove shop (or something) everyday for a couple months until the guy wore down and dished on the Juice? That's our master plan - wear them down until they absolutely can't help but listening!
10. Any interesting job offers after building yourself up as a top blogger?
We're not fit to write for the back of a cereal box, much less a meaningful publication. Top blogger? Come on man, there's no such thing. That's an honor like 'best blocking fullback in the NFL.' Does anyone really believe it?
11. Most rewarding parts of blogging? Most frustrating?
Random emails from people saying how much they enjoy reading the site. It's lame to admit, but it's a cool feeling. Also, when David Aldridge emailed us out of the blue to say that he had the Iverson scoop, not ESPN. David fuckin' Aldridge. The man is a sportswriting institution. Who knew he read our site? It's a shame the Philly Inky laid him off as opposed to you-know-who.
Oh, and the first time we made Romenesko was very cool. Also, during the Whitlock saga, we went online and listened to a few radio shows that talked about it, and that was neat. The USA Today mentions were pretty sweet.
Probably the best media hit that really got us excited about the site was the time we were driving back from DC one weekend, reading the New York Times on the PDA. There was a story about Flavor of Love. And the story was kind of veering towards a bunch of stuff Whitlock talked about (the black man acting like a fool to get ratings, etc). Said something to the wife-to-be like, 'hey, this is basically what our interview talked about.' And then two lines later, the NYT mentioned our site.
It resulted in about 17 more hits than normal, and there you have the blog world in a nutshell.
12. We'll get you outta here on this: Who has been your best interview and is there anyone you have lined up that you're especially excited about?
Well Whitlock put us on the map. He's kind of the gold standard. His legendary photo didn't hurt, either. We like people who are willing to be real and honest and unafraid of voicing their opinion. LeBatard was outstanding. TJ Simers, too. Kornheiser, if you're listening, hook a little blog up. Nobody's on deck but we're open to any and all ideas!
(Past interviews: Dawizofodds; Matt Ufford; The Mighty MJD; Jamie Mottram).