Journalism is dying. This industry is ruthless. Nobody cares about your stupid hockey website.
Just. Give. Up.
These are the recurring thoughts I have as I contemplate forging ahead with the venture that’s equal parts pleasure and plight: being a writer. Maybe they’re overly-critical or overdramatic, but sometimes you just have to tell the world how you’re feeling:
What journalism once stood for is making its proverbial final spin near the bottom of the toilet bowl. The headlines we once saw on the cover of Star Magazine and other trash tabloids near checkout counters are now front and center on the homepages of major media outlets. The internet just feels like one big crappy pile of copycats (thieves?) known as content aggregators and it’s:
This industry flat-out sucks. Most people in it are underpaid. Others aren’t paid at all. Some of the best writers I’ve ever come across have somehow never climbed their way up the ladder, while others that made serious headway in that ascent found themselves knocked off it entirely when cheaper replacements presented themselves.
And if we’re being honest here, not enough readers ever cared about Along the Boards — not to make it a worthwhile source of income for everyone involved, at least. Safe to say, we were never:
At our peak, traffic was good enough to make us feel like we had a tangible impact on this bloated blogosphere. We had to fight pretty hard for that small slice of the big pie, and sometimes we hated what it took to do so — especially every time we sold our souls for the almighty pageview with slow-loading slideshows. Jesus H. Christ do people hate those.
The thing about Along the Boards is this: We never made enough of an effort to stand out from the hundreds of other websites cranking out dime-a-dozen opinions, rankings rife with comments from butt-hurt college hockey homers, or “breaking” news posts that everyone read about on Twitter 20 minutes prior.
You might have noticed this place has been a dead zone for some time now. Next month, Along the Boards will come to an end, but a new — cleverly-titled! — endeavor will begin:
Pucks and Recreation
“Stick to hockey” is one of the most grating, tired tropes of Hockey Twitter. Those of us here, and those of you out there, have passions that go well beyond what takes place on a 200-foot sheet of ice.
With Pucks and Rec, we aim to mesh hockey and pop culture together.
We want to talk to the people of the hockey world about, well, things other than the mundane, day-to-day hockey stuff you can find on literally thousands of websites. We want to talk to Brent Burns about his fascination with Harry Potter. We want to find out how Byron Dafoe has evolved into a home automation guru since retiring from the NHL. We want to talk to Tuukka Rask about his love for death metal. We want to ask Dave Coulier about Uncle Joey’s hockey exploits on Full House. We want to peel the curtain back and get to know the prominent media members we all rabidly follow on a personal level.
We also want to carve out space for our staff to write about things completely outside the hockey realm. Sports fans have interests beyond, well, sports. Grantland — believe me, we’re not trying to compare ourselves — nailed it. WEEI is doing the same now.
Can we pull this off? It won’t be easy. We’re going to have to continue to find new writers to join us who “get it.” We’re going to have to work really hard and produce some killer content to establish ourselves — and to open the doors that, before long, we aim to knock on.
What do we have to lose in trying? Squandering a respectable-but-not-financially-viable audience we’ve established as a run-of-the-mill hockey blog? It’s postgame quote-level cliche, but I’d rather help create something with a chance — no matter how slim — of being special than carry on being the poor man’s version of half-a-dozen other outlets.
For the first time in a long time, I’m excited about the prospect of us making our mark. It doesn’t matter what the blog next door’s doing, or if the sky is falling in the land of journalism. We’re gonna march to the beat of our own drum, do things our way and just hope you dig it.
And if one day, in the not-too-distant future, somebody happens to recite a part of one of our posts and generates this response, we’ll know we succeeded:
See you in September.