Ch-changes at Blog@

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We heard some rumblings in the vicinity of Blog@ Newsarama of late, and now it’s all busted loose, as the original lineup of bloggers, including JK Parkin, Kevin Melrose, Tim O’Shea, Carla Hoffman, Melissa Krause, Jeff Trexler, Matt Maxwell, and Jennifer de Guzman, are leaving at the end of the month:

It’s kind of bittersweet, then, to announce that those of us who currently write for the blog are leaving Newsarama. It’s no secret that the site has gone through tremendous growing pains over the last few months and has been moving in a new direction since being purchased by Imaginova. Behind the scenes, there’s been a lot of growing pains as well, and we’ve reached the point where we think it’s better for us to move on. Nov. 30 will be our last day, and starting Dec. 1 you’ll be seeing a new crew take over the site.


In a longer statement, Parkin explained some of the reasons for the exodus:

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.

The 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 …


Blog@ originally started as The Great Curve, a group blog curated by Alex Segura Jr., and its absorption by Newsarama was part of a move towards blogging for larger media conglomerates. The Imaginova deal was announced last year, as part of Imaginova’s $15 million war chest for acquisitions, but apparently expansion plans fell afoul of the Grim Economy, as a quarter of the staff was laid off last month, and, according to a tipster at the previous link, CEO and President Dan Stone resigned.

What with cuts at Variety, and everywhere else, this is all part of the global retrenchment now taking place. We’re long overdue for a big business news roundup, but let’s be blunt, it’s all bad, so let’s just enjoy some turkey and meet back in a little while.

Comments

  1. I got an email from JK yesterday about this and have been mulling about it, but I didn’t know the contributors were leaving, too, actually. I mean, not as an automatic thing. Brian and I will probably take our column to a new site if arrangements can be made. The Blog@Newsarama is the only part of Newsarama I read, and I want to show solidarity with JK, who brought me there in the first place.

  2. Well, they already lost pretty much the entire core of the forums over there at nurama when Imaginova took over, as all the regulars pretty much moved over to The Outhouse at http://www.theouthousers.com/forum in one mass exodus, with more trickling in every week. I like to think that a good deal of what made newsarama attractive was the large, fast-moving forum community. It was a place that posters could call home, where many people spent a lot of time, driving up traffic, making those banner ads worthwhile, and providing a ton of free content for people to read in the discussions. Why they decided it was a broken system that needed fixing is completely beyond me. The whole ordeal seemed like a slap in the face to the people who made the site successful in the first place, the “customers,” so it’s not surprising that the staff was treated the same way. Is it a coincidence that the Alexa ranking has plummeted since the move? Newsarama was the best site on the internet, when run independently, but sadly, it’s not anymore. I am amazed that Imaginova could destroy something so wonderful. The Outhouse is a site run BY the community that used to call oldrama home, and anyone looking for that old feeling is encouraged to come and join us there, where we’re ALREADY rebuilding it from the ground up.

  3. It’s sad to see a site I visited almost daily just a year ago fade to one I rarely touch as ’08 comes to a close. I wish those departing bloggers well and hope they’re still talking comics somewhere in the months ahead.

  4. I gave up checking the main Newsarama site pretty much as soon as the redesign hit…I just find it completely unusable, and lacking in content I actually wanted to read. The only part of the site I still looked at was the blog and, well, there’s no point in that. So I guess it’s CBR or bust for me from now on…

    Times must be getting tough in the paid blogging world…after all, Gawker closed down its blog Valleywag and has Consumerist up for sale.

  5. When ComicMix chose to fire all of its bloggers a couple weeks back, the number of comments on the site as a whole dropped precipitously. It’s plainly obvious that the number of people visiting that site for the columns equalled or possibly outnumbered the ones coming for the comics.

    Similarly, as good as the stories at Newsaram is, the real selling point has always been the bulletin boards. I’m still a regular poster at the Rama, but it’s dropped to a sad fraction of the level of activity it once was. From the day the switch was thrown and everything got All Plucked Up, as soon as people couldn’t log in with their old handles, they started leaving and not coming back.

    Endless little things popped up, like comment threads about articles being separate from the regular threads on the boards, the aforementioned errors with the blog comments, the oft-demanded “Go to last comment” button, each adding to the collecting strain on the virtual camel’s back.

    The articles at the ‘Rama are still choice, thanks primarily to interviewers like Vaneta “Moonbeam” Rogers and her cohorts. But the overall level of fun of the boards has dropped like a sack of batteries.

    I’m loath to migrate for greener pastures like the outhouse or even the CBR forums, mainly because I’d get that “starting over from scratch” feeling that one always gets when one moves from one place to another. Like Jan Brady, I’d feel the need to get involved in every conversation in a vain attempt to find my niche again. But right now I’d say the number of regular posters could be counted on the hands of a few people, as opposed to the hundred of regulars from six months ago.

    While the world scarcely needs another blog from another person who considers his statements so damn important, but it might be a way to allow me to contralize my pontification activities. Who knows. Anyone got any suggestions for a new place for me to hang my hat?

  6. Well Vinnie, as Jude Terror pointed out above, we at The Outhouse are essentially trying to build the old Rama community and feel back up from ground level. As well as the forums we also have front page articles and op-ed pieces: drop by and see us. We’d love to have you on board, both as a poster and as a contributor: this is true of all others as well. The spirit of OldRama is still alive!

  7. For the record, I haven’t stated that I’m leaving Newsarama. Is that what the PR says? I should look it over more closely.

  8. Somebody says:

    *also almost completely stopped visiting Newsarama pretty much as soon as Imaginova “relaunched”, and didn’t know about the Outhouse thing. Goes to look at it*

  9. They get paid to link blog to work other people have done? I thought that was one of those hobby writing jobs.

  10. Sven_Mascarenhas says:

    I really lost most respect for Matt Brady when his “interviews” never had any hard hitting questions and he wouldn’t follow up on controversial statements, instead content to let Jemas or Quesada or Didio to make some snarky comment that would upset fandom without trying to defend fandom.

    Another blackeye for Matt, good riddance.

  11. Forbush Man says:

    I have to agree with Jude and nietoperz here. Newsarama is not what it used to be. I always found the Blog@ section to be much more interesting than the front page, and while I enjoyed the front page, I went there for comic book news, as it was a comic book site, not for movie box office revenues. I now look primarily at CBR, which I find currently superior to Newsarama in terms of comic book news.

    As for the boards, I loved Talk@ pre-Imaginova, but after, I couldn’t even log in and gave up, and relocated full time to the Outhouse. The Outhouse is better though. The greatest posters from Newsarama in a fun non-hostile environment where anyone can contribute to the site.

    I wish the best of luck to the Blog@ crew.

  12. People are getting paid to write blogs??

    AND making a living off it??

    Not to mention it took two years for a raise to finally kick in??

    Jeez, and I thought I had it tough at Sony Pictures Television.

    ~

    Coat

  13. Alan Coil says:

    Well, at least Brady and Doran got their money…

    And perhaps the new bloggers will work for free ala the new business model Wizard is trying to establish.

  14. Anyone surprised? Raise your hands! …Anyone?

    I rarely go back to Nrama. Instead I just check out this site and Journalista for my comics news, with the occassional look at CBR.

  15. joe the comics reader says:

    “Good riddance,” if you ask me! It just goes to show you that comics “blabbers” and business do not mix. Give an idiot a computer and keyboard and they think they are the Keith Olbermann of comicsdom. Yet, if you actually read any of their ramblings, you’ll see that they all lack any kind of journalistic honor.

    News Flash… you blabbers do not own Newsarama — you work for them (and were quite to my surprise — paid at a reasonable enough rate higher than $.01 a word — cause you know, freelance writers are paid by the word). And now you retreat to a relatively unknown corner of blogdom… real smart! How many message boards are there? How many comics news sites are there? And now you want to start another one? Good luck.

    A simple “We have decided to part ways due to creative differences,” would have sufficed. Instead, we get this dirty laundry list of evil doings followed by the every so familiar whine… wah! I couldn’t post my new blog because Darth Vader changed the coding to the site without telling me!

    I believe there’s a little bit of “delusions of grandeur” floating about in the fall air…

  16. Henrik J says:

    Sven_Mascarenhas : It is true that Matt never asked any hard hitting questions, but nobody does that so i think its more a general problem than blaming it all on him. I cant speak for how fans reacted to Didio, but everytime Joe Q had one of his columns people would go over it with a fine comb just looking for anything to get upset about, there is probably nothing that Quesada or Didio can do that doesnt make one group of whiny fanboys upset

  17. Alan Coil says:

    Posting at the Blog has been difficult since the site changeover. Frustrating to the point that I often gave up.

  18. Yeah, I wrote Imaginovia w/ some technical errors I’d run into posting on N-rama, & they got back to me about 2 weeks after I’d written them, *without* any solution to my issue (forget what it was, maybe trying to post HTML in a comment.) At any rate, just to echo sentiments above, I found it all much more corporate, much less friendly & not as good of an experience as using the board before, was.

    I’ll go scope out the Outhouse & CBR. Happily, when I am in the mood for comix newz, usually the Beat has it covered. (Lil’ T-day thanks to the hostess, but it be true.)

  19. I’ve been unable to register at the new Newsarama since it was launched. My old u/p doesn’t work, and when I try to register, I never get the e-mail to confirm my registration. Not to mention the worthless picture viewer, a severe decrease in quality and quantity of content, and other major problems, Newsarama is fairly worthless now.

  20. I’vebeen having the same problem with commenting that Ryan states. I have always gone to Newsarama for my comic news but have not been thrilled with it for months. I’ll check out the outhouse but will need to find another outlet.

  21. The Ugly American says:

    I always hate new ownership. Bunch’a outsourcing dinks.

  22. “Imaginova is led by an experienced management team and is backed by a prestigious group of institutional investors.”

    Ha! They should have stayed in the institution.

  23. I really liked the “old” Newsarama and still enjoy it today. I don’t care for the redesign of the site, but I support the contributors. It took me a while to catch up with others and see Wizard for what it’s become and it sucks to hear about Newsarama in a similar light.
    I know there are a lot of comic websites competing for the same audience, but I wish there was more of the community atmosphere that I see at conventions. Hopefully, when the former Blog@ crew sets up shop elsewhere, sites like Comic Related and even Newsarama will let readers know so we can support them, too.

  24. Reality Check says:

    So you “bloggers” want the freedom of being independent aka can write whaterver you want when you want it and not really have to worry about the blacklash of what you say, nor really confirm your facts and want the pay of professional writers which requires a business to remain profitable, which means ads, restrictions ect ect. Sounds like a bunch of hypocrites to me.

    Oh and do you think if Matt asked those “hard questions” that have a tendency to make the companies theylook to for their news bad, they would continue to get those nice exclusives and interviews? You guys are living in a dream world and CBR, Wizard, IGN or any of the other sites that have to maintain advertising as an actual business.

    I will say for Newsarama that Karma is a bitch, because I think its funny how they would post those articles making Wizard seem like bad guys and how all the little bloggers would leave comments about how far Wizard has fallen only to have the same thing happen to them now.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Update: JK Parkin spills the beans at Heidi’s — it’s all due to new owners, a lack of communication, bugs not getting fixed, and promised pay raises getting cancelled. I hope Matt got a great payout from Imaginova’s acquisition, because it looks like the long slow road to obscurity for a once-great site started there. Similar Posts: Goodbye, Fourth Rail § Modern Tales Changes Business Model § The Latest Z-Cult FM/SLG Publishing Information § Newsarama Sells Out § Manga Blog Shuts Down […]

  2. […] Everyone leaves at the end of the month. Imaginova bought Newsarama, and has basically pissed it down their leg. Share […]

  3. […] Hedi at The Beat has some more details concerning the story that the people behind the popular blog section of Newsarama leaving at the end of this month. JK Parkin explains: 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 (Brady) 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. […]

  4. […] Heidi at The Beat has some more details concerning the story that the people behind the popular blog section of Newsarama leaving at the end of this month. JK Parkin explains: 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 (Brady) 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. […]

  5. […]    We are Ready to Rumble: Play Now | Download Devil’s Due has started to lay off folks in reaction to the poor economy and the loss of the GI Joe license. […]

  6. […] THE BEAT Blog Archive Ch changes at Blog Posted by root 58 minutes ago (http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com) Endless little things popped up like comment threads about articles being separate from the regular threads on jeez and i thought i had it tough at sony pictures television the beat is powered by wordpress Discuss  |  Bury |  News | THE BEAT Blog Archive Ch changes at Blog […]

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