Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 26, 2008

Blog@Newsarama Contributors Leaving

In a post at the popular Blog@Newsarama adjunct to the comics and related entertainment news site Newsarama, JK Parkin announced that the current team of writers is leaving. They may return as a group in early 2009, and the post says the blog will continue with a new team of writers.

This is kind of odd in that someone had just brought to my attention that Newsarama's purchaser in 2007, Imaginova, had recently laid off some of its staff one guesses either in anticipation of further economic turmoil or just having the same sort of troubles that media companies are tending to have right now as on-line revenues flatline. However, this took place more than a month ago, plus Imaginova is one of the survivors of Inernetopocalypse Version 1.0 (they started in 1999, at about the middle point of that flush period) and doesn't seem a likely candidate for a sudden flame-out of the kind you'd expect to lead to a mass exodus. So I wasn't quite sure what to do with it or why it was sent my way.

Luckily, Blog@Newsarama's JK Parkin sent along the following statement, which indicates less of a "the sky is falling on comics" array of issues and points towards a more quotidian dissatisfaction with Newsarama and Imaginova following the site's summer 2008 re-launch:
"For the most part, the last two and a half years of working with Matt Brady and Michael Doran have been awesome. From the beginning, Michael and Matt were very supportive of everything we did on the blog, while at the same time being very hands off, giving me the freedom to choose who wrote for the blog, what we wrote, how it was designed, etc. And I'm really proud of what we did with the opportunity.

"Then Imaginova bought Newsarama. Things didn't change right away, at least not much, but then came the relaunch of Newsarama. It was less than optimal (and that's being kind), as anyone who has visited the sites and read the forums since last summer can see for themselves. Behind the scenes, things weren't any better. For example, going back to the day of the relaunch, we were never asked about or even told about Imaginova redesigning the blog. I found out it was happening because I was in the middle of doing a post and received a 404 error when I tried to publish it. I run the damn blog, and they didn't have the courtesy to give me a head's up about what they were doing.

"That was the start of the summer from hell.

"Here's another example.

"Vinnie's talking about a problem that should have been fixed months ago, when it was first brought to Imaginova's attention. Our comments haven't worked the way they are supposed to since the site relaunch. Even worse, I've emailed various folks at Imaginova about this issue many times since it started, and I have yet to receive a 'we're working on it or 'we'll get to it' response. A lot of people have given up on commenting on the blog as a result.

"There are more examples like this, but that probably gives you a flavor of what's been going on. I get that when a site relaunches or goes through a redesign like this that things aren't going to go perfectly. It's the nature of the beast. But combine those lingering problems with bad communications, and it just makes everything worse.

"Anyway, everything came to a head in September, when I decided to step down and the rest of the blog said they were going with me. The headaches, problems and lack of response from Imaginova just weren't worth it anymore. But Matt talked us into staying, promising some changes in how things worked, how we interacted with Imaginova and our first pay raise since we started with the blog back in 2006. He offered a pretty decent pay system that turned this from a side hobby we were all probably spending too much time on into a legitimate freelance opportunity.

"Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he came back in November and said those changes he'd promised were effectively null and void. So we decided to leave, effective Nov. 30.

"I believe Matt is now looking for more folks to take over the blog. I sincerely wish them the best of luck, as we put a lot into the site over the last couple of years. I also thank Matt and Michael for the opportunity they gave us. Honestly, I thought we had worked everything out in September, and it sucks that things have ended the way they have.

"We will be back. I can't share any details on exactly where yet, as we're still working that out. I'll share more about that once things are finalized. But did I mention how kick ass the Blog@ team is? I can't think of a better group of folks I'd want to work with. And despite everything that's happened, for some reason they haven't kicked me out of the group, so..."
A lengthy comment section has appeared on today's post at the Blog.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

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