Maintaining a successful AP style journalistic platform such as Elite Sports NY (ESNY) requires dedication and a maniacal intensity that doesn’t magically appear out of thin air. Our readers demand the best and our aim is always to meet that challenge. Here’s a glimpse as to how ESNY navigates through gritty New York City sports life.
I have written for a number of sports-themed websites including Call to the Pen and Yanks Go Yard (both affiliated with Fansided), but nowhere have I found the challenge to be as high as when writing for Elite Sports NY (ESNY).
Led by Rob Sabo, the founder and full-time driver of ESNY, a team has been assembled to cover the full gamut of New York sports teams and, occasionally, the national/trending scene as well–if important enough to diehard New York sports fans.
Coming from Fansided, an atmosphere where numbers (i.e., story hits) are the Holy Grail while the backend of WordPress is manipulated to catch the attention of search engines (especially the great Google), I was fascinated with Rob from the get-go when he answered my “How am I doing?” question (meaning, how many readers are clicking on my stories?) with a response of, “Don’t worry about numbers.”
But I have come to learn Rob means what he says. He doesn’t care. What he does demand from me as well as others, though, is accurate and hard-pounding thoughtful dialog with our readers.
It’s not that numbers mean nothing here. For anybody familiar with the industry, of course, you understand the importance. What’s important is that the philosophy of “quality for the diehard fan over cheap quantity for the casual social media click-bait victim” always prevails, even if that means sacrificing a few readers now.
Why? Well, because building the brand and successfully promoting a long-term strategy trumps any cheap traffic metric.
Anyone can have an opinion, but in the modern day world of sports journalism, readers have learned to be discerning with an attitude to look before you leap, and you better support your opinion before a reader rightfully turns the dial to another story populating the internet on the same subject.
Here’s how it works at ESNY …
As a Senior Writer on the squad, I am afforded some latitude in the subjects I choose to write about. We utilize Slack, though, to ensure we don’t overlap and to communicate constantly throughout the day with each other.
My aptitude centers on baseball–as, of course, New York is a baseball town–so I write exclusively on the New York Mets and Yankees. Other writers at ESNY, like Billy McInerney, easily transgress from baseball to hockey to football without missing a beat. Rick Weiner, ESNY’s Editor in Chief (formerly of Bleacher Report), has the ability to write, edit and teach about anything drawing from his knowledge over the years as a journalist.
Most importantly, fundamentally, we start with an idea.
At ESNY, only a portion of the New York teams can be covered on location. For example, both Geoff Maglicchetti and Jason Leach are the New York Giants beat daily. Full home game and practice credentials with the Jints is an example of one credentialed ESNY area. In the past, ESNY’s deployed New York City FC and New York Knicks credentialed writers (see Kristian Winfield of SB Nation) as well as full access to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (Yankees Triple-A).
The point is this: the on-the-scene city beat is a work-in-progress. Organizations make sure a journalistic platform is legit prior to granting access and Elite Sports NY is still under three years old (founded in March of 2015). Sometimes, the on-location manpower isn’t active.
Still, speaking from a majority point-of-view, we do not “make” news. This is similar to the hundreds of Fansided and SB Nation satellite team sites. Instead, we report on the news and more significantly, we analyze the story for our readers.
It starts with an idea like the one I had the other day with the proposed title, “The Yankees are linked to everyone but the kitchen sink.” I wrote up the story, submitted it along with a note to my editors wondering if the title was appropriate and could be considered “click bait,” a term we despise here.
I felt right about the content of the story until it reached the hands of Rick Weiner, who promptly tore it upside down, challenging me to re-write the portion about two pitchers I cited who did not fit the mold of my subject matter.
I go back to re-write that portion of the article, resubmit it, only to find I still didn’t get it right. After that, Weiner takes it upon himself to re-edit and publish the story that eventually became published as “Is there anyone the Yankees won’t be linked to?
It’s called teamwork.
This is what we do. We don’t hit the mark every day, but that is not for want of not trying. The force of ESNY, though, is the team behind it.
I’ve been around the block, so to speak, through some positive and not-so-fortunate situations. I can now firmly say this: unlike past unfortunate experiences, when you don’t get the best from ESNY, it’s only because the entire team has failed–something not likely to ever transpire.
Checkpoints are the key at ESNY. My experience has taught me they are non-existent at other sites I’ve been associated with.
It feels good to be home.