Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Time To Say Goodbye


Good morning,

After much soul searching and weighing my options, I have come to the conclusion that it is my time to step down as Community Leader of the NASCAR page and as a Featured Columnist. Trust me when I say that this was not an easy decision for me to make and that I have thought tirelessly about my choice. 

I addressed some of my concerns last week via e-mail to all of you and through our discussion during last week's conference call, but there are still issues that I fear are unsolvable at this point. 

When I began writing for Bleacher Report two years ago, I produced quality work that got an immediate positive response from readers. 

I understood that we as "writers" voluntarily joined the site for the love of sport and chose to let it be known to the world through our individual voices.

Each of us came to the table with out exclusive observations and writing styles. B/R provided each of us with an even playing field, not a one of us was any better than the next. It was up to each of us to choose how we expressed ourselves through words.

Every one of us had a unique writing style that readers responded to. We started from the ground up, made a respected community and worked hard as a team while maintaining our own individuality as writers.

We were chosen to be Featured Columnists based on our accomplishments. We took pride in the quality of work we were producing. Our articles were well researched, thought provoking and fact based, simply put,  the original seven of us who were asked to become FCs knew our stuff inside & out. 
I know that I seem to be tooting my own horn, but I was incredibly proud of the work that I was putting out. It was original & from the heart.

We began losing Featured Columnists over the last couple of weeks because everything that they had worked do hard to achieve, began to feel as if it were being taken away. We were asked to take on assignments, which is acceptable to a point, but when practically every article on the NASCAR page is a variation of a top 10 slideshow, it really "dumbed us down," in the NASCAR journalism world.

I am not opposed to producing slideshows, but they have to be on my own terms. Slideshows are going to get hits based on the pictures, not the commentary that accompanies them. They are nothing but electronic picture books at this point. Let's face it, how many men really buy Playboy for their stellar articles?

On paper I am sure that B/Rs numbers are phenomenal, based on slideshows alone, but behind the scenes it is all very shallow. What was all hearsay to me up until this point, became very real this weekend when I attended the Richmond race on B/R's behalf. 

The reaction that I got from respected members of the media in both the mainstream and Citizens Journalist circles was less than flattering. We are no longer the credible representative for the NASCAR Citizens Journalist Media Corps that we were when originally asked to join last year.

People are "writing" about topics that they know nothing about & are relying on search engines for their answers. I can't speak for the other pages on the site, but being that the NASCAR page is a part of the NCJM, sub-par articles are unacceptable, top-10 slideshows don't make for respected journalism and poor research on a writer's part leads to demise. 

For example, the same gentleman who wrote "The Ten Worst Drivers in the Sprint Cup Circuit" put out a NASCAR WAG article that generated 4000 reads in it's first day, but just like in his prior NASCAR article, the facts regarding some of his slides were wrong. So that is 4000 people who were given wrong information & once again this writer was given an award based on false information & that makes me sad. 

While I am not in favor of personal attacks on the writers, I fully stand behind the right to correct the author when the information they have produced is blatantly wrong. 

By serving up repercussions and/or suspending writers for leaving comments on these poorly researched articles you are censoring an attempt at accuracy and supporting inaccurate "journalism."

We are only as good as our worst writer.

I have given it my all & refuse to have my reputation as a writer discounted based on what the industry thinks of our NASCAR section. It is disheartening for me to scroll through one of my articles only to find a link to a "Guilty Pleasure" "T&A" slideshow under the "More Articles You''ll Like" footnote. It devalues my integrity & it immediately discredits the respect that the reader might have gained for my personal journalism when they originally chose to click on the link.

There was a time when I was so proud of what we had accomplished, the people in our community were true talent, with incredible stories to tell. I personally write from the heart, I find no satisfaction in doing it any other way & I was successful doing just that. 

112 articles, 53 awards, an average read count of 760 per article and six articles of the day.

It was never about the numbers for me, it was all about the passion & the effort I put into each & every article. Each of them exposed a piece of who I was & my love of NASCAR. They were expressions of what the sport meant to me & that was always my driving force. When they managed to touch the lives of others along the way, well that was the icing.

As some of you know, I have a demanding full time job as a Paramedic in the ER, I simply do not have the time to scour the internet or Getty images to find images for a subjective slideshow, that in the end leaves me feeling empty. I have to do things the best way I know how or not at all. 

My heart literally aches over this decision, I wish that it had never come to this point, I would have been content to stay with Bleacher Report for as long as I continued to write. 

I appreciate the opportunity that you have given to me, I am by all accounts a better writer for the experience and for that I can't thank you enough. I wish all of you and the site nothing but the best.


Kara Martin

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