UPDATED on Friday at 9:30 am – Newsday sports media guru Neil Best blogs about Point Blank, throws in plug for Newsday coverage of the Islanders. Sports Illustrated media and broadcasting columnist Richard Deitsch Tweets about PB. Thank you, Neil and Richard.
Islanders Independent stands up, and also clears up any misunderstanding.
A beautiful note comes in from the family of Todd Aronovitch about the Islanders and their son. (See Comment #39)
Regarding the future of Point Blank, readers have generated a Petition and a Facebook Group. I don’t know the numbers on the petition, but the Facebook Group has enlisted more than 150 members within a few hours. This is the part where I should say I’m “humbled.” That doesn’t quite do it. I couldn’t possibly articulate my reaction to that.
Thank you, James.
UPDATED Friday at noon – My thanks and some follow-up thoughts at Comment #456…CB
Islanders Point Blank is no longer the “team-sponsored blog.” As a result, Point Blank may not be around much longer.
Like just about everything in sports, it’s only business. Nothing personal, and it’s certainly not about anything I’ve written that the franchise may not have loved.
The Islanders were my employer for more than 20 years. Last summer Chris Dey came to me with the idea to have this former longtime team exec blogging 24/7/365 about the Islanders. Quickly, the hockey fans responded and I am forever appreciative. Even before the Islanders drafted John Tavares, Point Blank was receiving in excess of 400,000 unique visitors a month. With the expectation the young players will develop and not come in last in the league again, those numbers would only grow in seasons to come.
We praised, criticized and tried to hold the Islanders accountable in a fair manner. We tried to tell every side of the story and elevate the discussion. We were relentless. You and I know about all the stories discussed here first and most often – about the Lighthouse and the draft and prospects and everything else the mainstream media wasn’t covering. No need to list all the stories we broke, often readers and editor in partnership.
We packed a bar and celebrated together as Tavares became an Islander. Readers said the constant connection to the team via the blog strengthened their support of the team and was helping win over new fans. I’ve received tremendous support and suggestions (and page views) from fellow bloggers, NHL reporters and just about every person in the Islanders’ front office. As the team was about to select Calvin de Haan, a trio of NYI scouts were shown on TSN at the draft table reading Point Blank on their laptops.
But now it could be over. Blog survival may be a long shot, but you never know. There are some possibilities, just as I open my search to a career without the Islanders as part of it.
To be clear, the Islanders made a very kind offer of support that would have been of great assistance if I chose to develop Point Blank as my own business. I’m grateful for their gesture and hope they respect that running a hockey blog as my personal full-time business at this stage of my life does not work for me. I thank them for the idea for Point Blank and their generous offer of support. I hope the blog was beneficial to the franchise over the last ten months.
In response to the many readers suggesting they would pay for a subscription, your kindness is incredible. Thanks also to those readers and friends asking about potential sponsorships. It simply is not a wise business model – not with a family, not at my age, in my opinion not in this age. Even with the popularity of the site, the numbers do not add up to a full-time living, do not add up to being able to do this blog the right way – writing and thinking about it every waking hour. These concerns have been confirmed by many people I consider experts in blogging and the business of New Media.
I even went to the lengths of tracking down David Meerman Scott, the best-selling author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” I used David’s book as a textbook for my Masters course at Hofstra. He cited the Blog Box we created at the Islanders as a global innovation in his new book, “World Wide Rave.” This year, he hosted a seminar for Islanders marketing and PR staffers.
This is what the social media guru and marketing consultant for Google, HP, the U.S. Marines Corps and hundreds of other clients told me this afternoon:
People don’t react to paid content no matter how good, valuable or rare it may be. Things they are used to getting or expect to get for free…the consumer will not pay for it. Many fans might offer to pay a subscription, but you would lose at least 90% of your readership. It has not worked. It will not work.
The thought of Islanders fans being the only sports fans paying for my brand of beat coverage is distasteful. Other than for trade rumors, I don’t know anybody who pays money for any sports editorial content on the Internet. Once subscribers started copying-and-pasting Point Blank scoops on message boards, you’d wonder what you were paying for.
Even if subscription sales were moderately successful, as David Meerman Scott said I would lose most of Islanders Country. That would destroy the entire original purpose of Point Blank. Considering the state of sports coverage – as detailed here in the Sports Business Journal – subscriptions would be a lose-lose for the Islanders and the fans.
Perhaps the team can give the opportunity to another writer. David Scott believes Chris Dey and the Islanders gave birth to another New Media innovation with IPB, one they could sell to other teams. My hope was that the Islanders and I could build on what we started only ten months ago. My hope was that the Islanders, in addition to the PR value, could somehow find a way to make the blog work for them.
So the official pursuit of Act Two of my career begins. Like so many others, I’m unemployed and looking for a full-time job. But I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been fortunate up to this point in my life to do something I’ve loved doing. The shake-up may be good for me.
If I’m able to find another home for Point Blank or another gig, I’ll write about it in this space. There are many people to thank and final thoughts to be shared. As for writing about the Islanders in the next few weeks, I honestly don’t know. My focus must be on a livelihood and taking care of my family.
Sorry for all the drama. It’s just that I’ve always tried to keep an honest dialogue on the blog – remember this one? – and I will until we reach the end.
If you’ve made it this far, I’d like to ask a personal favor. Constructive Comments, supporting somehow keeping Point Blank alive or finding it another destination, spreading the word if you think I have a half a clue and am not a complete jerk, your thoughts on the blog these last ten months…those would be helpful. Personal attacks on anyone other than me…not helpful. Again, I need everyone’s guidance if I’m going to land on my feet in this economy. Maybe there’s a better home for the blog. Time to build, not burn bridges. Please help me do that.
Point Blank and the Islanders have been a full-time job and all-the-time obsession. I didn’t take a day off for almost 300 days, and I loved every second of it. I’m proud of my record in two jobs with the Islanders this decade. I thank Charles Wang for the opportunity and the franchise for an idea that was ahead of its time. We had something pretty special here. I thank you for joining me every step of the way.