Former Chicago Tribune and Crain’s sports journalist Ed Sherman has been blogging about sports media for 10 months now, and I recently noticed that he has never put an ad or a tip jar on his site, The Sherman Report. Why does this suburban Chicago father of two teen sons start blogging at about 6:30 in the morning and even work weekends when there’s absolutely no financial reward? Why does he constantly monitor traffic – as he tells me he does – when there are no advertisers to satisfy? Sherman answers those questions and others in my Q-and-A.
(Disclosure: I got to know Ed about a year ago after he emailed about using Jonathan Liss, my site designer, for his website. For a long time we’ve emailed about meeting in person for coffee but that has yet to happen. Blame me for that.)
You took the Chicago Tribune’s buyout in 2008. Why?
I was about to turn 50 and had been considering making a move for a couple of years. I had burnt out on the travel and working nights and weekends. [He had worked at the paper for 26 years.] My boys were just turning 12 and 10, and I felt like I had been missing out by being gone so much. Obviously, the biggest part of the decision was to spend more time with my wife and boys, and it’s been great.
From a career perspective, I felt like I had done all I wanted to do at the Tribune. Plus — and this was before the economy collapsed in the fall of ’08 — there was a healthy buyout package on the table for me. I thought if I was going to leave the company, I might as well get the going-away prize. Also, I had a book deal in place that I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I had stayed at the Tribune. So a lot of things were at play. I just felt like I needed to make a change and see if I could make it on my own.
What did you learn from your Crain’s experience after working at the Tribune for decades?
Crain’s was terrific. I really enjoyed covering sports business and getting to know the various executives within the teams. It is a beat that deserves more coverage at mainstream sports outlets. Crain’s gave me the opportunity to gain experience operating my own blog – a chance to experience the pace of updating and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I was growing along with them.
As for why I left, after 3 1/2 years, again I just felt it was time. Crain’s was making some changes with new editors, and I had an idea to launch a sports media site. So the timing was good on both ends.
At what point did you say, “I’m going to start The Sherman Report”? And what niche in the sports blogosphere did you see it filling?
I had done a sports media column for 12 years at the Tribune, and really enjoyed it. I had been kicking around the idea of bringing it back in the form of my own web site. To be honest, I was influenced by your site. I wanted to see if I could do it for sports.
There are a few sites that cover sports media, and they are quite popular. I felt I could be a bit different by doing more Q/As with people in the industry. I also want to explore the process of how sports news gets reported. I saw the site as an opportunity to have a voice in an area of high interest to me. Hopefully, a chance to have some impact./CONTINUES