The facts of blog: Three times a day, five days a week

Pretty cool, huh? A picture of this post atop this post. High-tech, like.

Pretty cool, huh? A picture of this post atop this post. High-tech, like. (Photo by M. Bradley)

If you’re counting at home — and literally, I just did — this marks my 102nd post in 40 days. I mention this because six weeks ago my job description underwent a major readjustment, as I’m sure many among you have noticed. And just this week two respected pros — Claude Felton, Georgia’s Hall of Fame publicist, and Kim Shreckengost, Arthur Blank’s longtime deputy — asked: “So how often do you write now?”

That in mind, I’ve decided to compile what we digital types — technically, I work in Digital at the AJC now, not Sports — call FAQs. (Frequently Asked Questions, for the newbies.) I hope these will be of some service as we move forward in this bold endeavor.

So how often do you write now?

The idea is to post three times a day, Monday through Friday, the target times being 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Obviously this is subject to change when I’m covering a live event or a night game, and in such cases I’ll try to alert you beforehand. But generally speaking, if you check back every four hours on a weekday, you should find something new. (Not to say something good, but something new.)

Mention Pynchon for maximum effect.

Mention Pynchon for max effect.

Will this change come football season?

Probably, but we’re still sorting that out. (When I say “we,” I mean Quindelda McElroy and Carolyn Warmbold, who are the brains behind the Insight/Opinion Digital group, and Mr. Schultz and myself.) Mr. Schultz and I will still go to games on Saturday/Sunday, and I’m guessing we’ll do more live-blogging from those. But don’t hold me to that just yet.

Does this mean you won’t write for the print AJC anymore?

It does not. I still write for print roughly three times a week, and the print column will always appear online as part of the ol’ blog. But my first responsibility, as Ms. McElroy says — we call her “Q,” by the way — is to serve the digital audience. That means you folks. So consider yourselves lucky or warned, depending on your slant.

So you’re not in Sports but you’re still a sports writer?

That’s correct. Our Insight/Opinion group contains folks from all walks of AJC life — from Jim Galloway, the Political Insider, to Meridith Ford Goldman, the food critic — and contains four folks charged specifically with blogging about sports: Darryl Maxie on recruiting, Junkyard Bill King, Mr. Schultz and myself.

That doesn’t mean our sports beat writers — Sekou Smith, Dave O’Brien/Carroll Rogers, Darryl Ledbetter, Chris Vivlamore, Tim Tucker, Doug Roberson and Michael Carvell — still won’t do blogs. They will. (As you’ve doubtless seen, Sekou and DOB/Carroll have been churning them out as per usual over the summer.) But they’re in the News & Information group.

Aren’t 15 posts a week an awful lot?

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some initial hesitation on my part, and I’d be lying if I told you that, after six weeks, I’ve settled into what I’d call an ideal routine. I haven’t yet, though I’m getting closer. But the trick, I’m learning, is treat the digital world, which is a totally different animal from print, totally differently. I wouldn’t want to write 15 posts a week full of the usual Bradley column-style bloviation, and believe me, you wouldn’t want to read them. That’s why you’re seeing more of a mix.

The mix being … what exactly?

Whatever springs to mind. I’ve written a poem, sort of. I’ll try to make lists. There will always be a fairly extensive Bradley’s Buzz — a collection of links regarding local sports — on Monday mornings, but there will be more shorter Buzzes throughout the week. I’ve been doing Buzz since last August — both the name and the idea came from former AJC sports editor Ronnie Ramos, who’s now at NCAA.com — and I’ve been pleased to see there’s almost always a surplus of material.

Are there any other regularly scheduled weekly features?

So far, two. There’s something I’ve dubbed the Hot Button, which will appear Thursday mornings, and its aim is to give my answer to a burning — or, failing that, simmering — issue regarding Atlanta/Georgia sports. Installment No. 1 was, “Do the Braves need a new manager?” No. 2 was, “Why the Hawks must still draft a point guard.” No. 3 was, “Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar?” Yesterday’s was, “Should the Bravers be buyers or sellers?” Not much nuance; just meat-and-potatoes sports stuff.

And on Wednesdays Mr. Schultz and I will be doing a Face Off, which is as it sounds: One issue, differing opinions.

Tell the truth. Do you like this new regimen?

Yes, I do. I love the actual act of writing. I’m not what’s known in the trade as a “bleeder,” meaning I don’t agonize over every word. I’m fairly quick and I’m usually pretty clean. (I’m talking copy-wise, not necessarily hygiene-wise.) And I’ve found, at the advanced age of 53, that focusing on the digital audience has enabled me to look on a job I’ve done for more more than 30 years in a whole new light. This stuff is, in a word, fun.

Do you read every single comment?

I try to look at every single comment. I’d be less than candid if I said I read them all one word for word. I try to get the gist, and I try to think of the comments section as a conversation. I like responding. I like making my dumb little jokes. I like recognizing people’s screen names, even if they’re people I know who aren’t my biggest fans.

By the way: You’re allowed to disagree with me, even encouraged to do so. I have just two requests.

And those are?

Keep it clean, and don’t use the word “thug.” I hate that word, and I delete any comment containing it. (I did it again just this morning.) It started as a code word, but it’s not even code anymore. It’s essentially a racial slur. I try to flexible on most things, but on this word I’m steadfast.

Do you have a formula for how often you respond?

I try to answer as often as I can, sometimes to stimulate the conversation, sometimes just to crack wise. With three posts a day, it gets a little tougher to keep up with every train of thought. But I do try.

Any other tips for commenters?

I’m a sucker for literary or movie or music references. If I see the screen name “Stephen Daedalus” — and I have — my eyes light up. Same with “Ted Striker.” Same with “Tupac Earnhardt Jr.

Do you ever sleep?

On occasion, yes. But only on occasion.

Last FAQ. If you were going to give yourself a screen name, what would it be?

Believe it or not, I’ve given this a lot of thought. Here goes: Holly Martins.

101 comments Add your comment

Song G

July 10th, 2009
2:49 pm

Seven Samurai, booyah

Craig "Speedy" Ehlo

July 10th, 2009
2:55 pm

Keep up the good work, Mark – I like the new format, and you’ve been churning out some good stuff.

tale of woe

July 10th, 2009
2:56 pm

Since I am sure 3 blogs are a lot to do each day I offer up this suggestion – Write something about me…er, the other critics who chime in from time to time to either give you hell or to praise your opinions…Just a thought…I figure you need as many suggestions as possible….

Billy

July 10th, 2009
3:03 pm

Mr. Bradley,

As a college student using this summer to build my resume with a soild corporate internship, I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoy your daily blogs. I work hard for a few hours knowing your post at 11 and 3 will be rewards for my work. The AJC has done a good thing with this recent transformation. I look forward to reading your blogs for the rest of the summer while in my cubicle.

Mychelfromatl

July 10th, 2009
3:04 pm

Keep up the good work “homie”…these sport blogs keep me entertained while I’m at work!!

Sultanofatl

July 10th, 2009
3:05 pm

Enjoying the new set up Mark. Question: Out of all the current coaches in Atlanta(college and pro), who is lead dog? Same for GM’s, who would be the guy the other guys should target?

Art Vandelay

July 10th, 2009
3:08 pm

Another burning question, Mark: Does this increased workload come with a corresponding pay raise? I’ve been reading your stuff since I was knee-high to a cockroach, and I’m amazed that you’re able to sustain this level of production at your advanced age. Hopefully, in their infinite wisdom, the higher-ups in the AJC Digital group have decided to split the money that was going to Terence Moore and the 1500-or-so staffers who were culled earlier this year between you, Schultz, and the four other writers remaining in the newsroom. You’ve certainly earned it these past six weeks.

uga_b

July 10th, 2009
3:19 pm

Sultan, if you go by tenure and accomplishments, it would be Bobby Cox and then Mark Richt. Big fan of Mike Smith and Paul Johnson’s work and Woodson has even impressed as of late. Jury may still be out on the Thrashers.

For GMs, I go Dimitroff then Sund then Frank Wren then Wadell.

Not that you asked.

uga_b

July 10th, 2009
3:21 pm

Mark, thanks for keeping me company on NFL Draft Sunday. Next time you’re out, Dimitroff says try the seabass.

TommyP

July 10th, 2009
3:25 pm

As a teacher/coach, I get to check in on you all day during the summer months. During the school year, usually twice a day…but it’s always with great anticipation. :)

Great job and honestly the best overall blog on this site.

rlinaug

July 10th, 2009
3:30 pm

I threw in Boo Radley yesterday, did you just glean over it? if you didn’t notice it, I may have to compare you to Nasty Roche. He’s a stink, you know.

Ken Stallings

July 10th, 2009
3:40 pm

Three entries a day for five days a week are way too many. Consider this some honest feedback. I prefer quality of quantity. Not to say your work hasn’t had quality because in fact it has. But this amount of daily writing is going to represent burn out and the only way to manage that is with filler materials.

The AJC is in big trouble financially and few people are willing to pay for newspaper access these days. Fewer still will pay for online access. It’s a dinosaur unfortunately. But if the AJC wants a future then it needs to focus on its news and opinion divisions more than sports. The AJC sports section has carried the newspaper in Atlanta for years.

If the AJC is serious about remaining viable, then they will change their editorial angle so it stops being a knee-jerk left-wing publication. The days of three liberal columnists for one token conservative doesn’t wash. It’s a wrong formula that doesn’t retain moderate and conservative readers who have chosen to discontinue patronizing any newspaper that continues its sad application.

True balance means an equal number, as well as the equal chance the conservative view gets top billing vice relegation to the op-ed section. I realize this is the sports section, but it’s the only section I ever read any longer. It’s the only section where I don’t feel like someone’s trying to use me as a social lab rat! And despite the editors’ apparent views, I don’t have whiskers and a long thin tail!

I appreciate you trying to keep the paper and online versions of the AJC alive nearly by yourself, Mark. But it takes more than the good efforts of one person. But I do apprecaite your efforts.

Mac

July 10th, 2009
3:41 pm

Holy crud, I just saw The Third Man for the first time recently on TCM, and what a great flick! Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard and that hot chick … terrific!

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
3:52 pm

No, I caught Boo Radley, Rlinaug, and I’m assuming you were going with “To Kill A Mockingbird” and not the British band the Boo Radleys. In either case, kudos.

Song G wins the bonus points — though just what they entitle one to do or get, I’m not yet sure — for correctly identifying “Seven Samurai. ” I don’t have many movies on DVD, but I’ve got that one.

And the hot chick from “The Third Man” was billed as “Valli” in the credits, but her name was Alida Valli. (I believe I learned that from Robert Osborne on TCM.)

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
3:53 pm

Oh, and thanks for the kind words. And I do well recall the Draft Day line about the sea bass, UGA. A good one then and now.

Mac

July 10th, 2009
3:57 pm

You know, between Bradley and Facebook, I really should be fired. But the fact is, the business I run is making 10-times what it did last year. No, really.

Dark Helmet

July 10th, 2009
3:59 pm

KEEP FIRING, A$$HOLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

uga_b

July 10th, 2009
4:00 pm

Also, if you notice, ESPN has gone mainly blogs online as well. Only articles you seem to get are from the Mag.

I think the hardest part with the frequency is that you chose to start it in summer when it is notoriously slow for sports.

Caedmon

July 10th, 2009
4:01 pm

Hey Mark,
No love for Rashomon?

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:03 pm

A pay raise? You mean I’m supposed to get paid for doing this?

Herschel Talker

July 10th, 2009
4:04 pm

Mark – But the picture of the blog isn’t in the picture of the blog. It’s supposed to be like a fractal. What gives?

wxwax

July 10th, 2009
4:06 pm

Bleeder, huh? Great term!

Holly Martins? Dude, you’re much better than that. He was a bit of a dolt, well-intentioned but totally out of his depth. You’re not out of your depth at all, you do a great job. I can’t imagine churning out as much material as you do.

(What a great movie, BTW.)

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:06 pm

You know, Caedmon, “Rashomon” isn’t my favorite Akira Kurosawa movie. It’s a great one, but it’s not as much fun as most of his are. (Pretty dire subject matter, as you know.) If you haven’t seen it, let me recommend “High and Low.”

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:08 pm

What gives is I’m not nearly clever enough to pull off a fractal. A fracture, yes.

And Holly Martins is pretty much me to a “T” — hack writer with a big mouth, doesn’t know what’s going on, in way over his head, shot his best friend in the Vienna sewers.

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:10 pm

Oh, and Tale of Woe had it right: Suggestions are not just appreciated; they’re desperately appreciated.

Mac

July 10th, 2009
4:13 pm

What was funny about the sewer chase scene was that it was supposed to be an impossible labyrinth, but they kept showing that exact same bit of location over and over. It’s the only “flaw,” in the movie.

NCBravesFan

July 10th, 2009
4:14 pm

MB – I really have enjoyed the blogs you and Schultz have been cranking out. And I really appreciate how responsive you are to the audience.

The growth in terms of comments is remarkable, so I assume the page clicks must be through the roof.

So here’s my question: is this headed toward a “for-pay” type system for accessing/participating down the line? I know you folks are having a hard time in the industry right now, so it makes sense that this would be discussed at some point. (And from my vantage point, it might wheedle out a few of the nitwits who have invaded DOB’s blog over the past year.)

Buzz

July 10th, 2009
4:15 pm

You ever think you will be any good at writing? Seems the extra practice might help.

Mac

July 10th, 2009
4:15 pm

Here’s one: Are Pariah Jerry, the Missouri safety and the Richmond DE going to get signed before camp?

bb

July 10th, 2009
4:18 pm

You confirmed something that had become obvious (to me at least). That the UGA ‘Fan’ blogger is actually a hired hand that is paid to blog about UGA sports (he obviously has the same 3 a day quota you do). There is nothing wrong with that, mind you, it makes good sense business-wise for the AJC I’m sure. But it does let the GT fans know, once and for all, that there is a difference in the way that the AJC thinks of the two schools. There can be no illusion of being unbiased. The AJC caters to the UGA fans for profit.

Again, there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t pretend it’s not true. The plain and simple truth is that there are more UGA fans (even in Atlanta) than GT fans, so, as a business, the AJC has to consider that.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

July 10th, 2009
4:19 pm

Was this photograph taken with the AJC-issued phone or your NEW I-PHONE???

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:19 pm

That’s a good idea, Mac. Thanks. (And my guess is that they will sign. As I’m sure you know, the NFL pretty much shuts down around the first of July. Not much gets done anywhere.)

Oh, and Buzz: I sincerely doubt I’ll ever be any good. Thanks for asking.

Herschel Talker

July 10th, 2009
4:21 pm

Mark – in all seriousness, the new format is tremendous. Kudos to you and Schultz on the upgrade and the hard work.

Caedmon

July 10th, 2009
4:23 pm

I have seen “High and Low,” and you’re right, it is a great one. I really enjoy Kurosawa’s movies set in contemporary times, even though he’s (mostly) known for his historical work. “Ikiru” is another fine film. I’ve heard rumors of a “High and Low” remake. The latest is that Mike Nichols will direct and David Mamet will write the screenplay, so I don’t know if I should call blasphemy just yet, even though I’m tempted.
Hey, we’re talking Japanese cinema on a sports blog. Cool!

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:24 pm

NC has done a dangerous thing: He has asked a really difficult question. As some of you will recall, we tried making sports columns for-pay back in 2004, and that lasted a year. The cold truth is that people have gotten so used to getting everything on the Internet for free they’re reluctant to pay for anything. (I know. It took me years to become an ESPN Insider, and I only broke down because I figure I’ll get reimbursed.)

But I did see something about the New York Times considering a charge of $5 a month to use its Web site. So now I’ll ask you folks: Would you pay a small monthly fee to read AJC.com online? (Don’t feel obliged to say yes. You won’t hurt my feelings. I’d really like to know.)

Chris

July 10th, 2009
4:25 pm

How many are going to be copy and paste jobs? At least four a week, right?

Class of '98

July 10th, 2009
4:26 pm

Don’t we all sleep “on occasion”? Isn’t someone who sleeps constantly in a coma?

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:30 pm

This was the iPhone, Ms. CB. Thanks for asking. I don’t go anywhere without it. The BlackBerry Storm usually stays in my work bag.

And, to Class of ‘98, I guess I pretty much went through the University of Kentucky in a coma because I could sleep 10, 12, 14 hours at a time.

Class of '98

July 10th, 2009
4:32 pm

Mark, since I think there might actually be a chance you’ll read this…

I’m 34 and not old enough to remember reading the AJC without you. You’re one of my all-time favorites. The column you wrote about how UGA deserved to play in the BCS title game the day after the BCS standings were released in December 2007 still brings tears to my eyes.

It was downright poetic. Thanks for that column and a thousand others.

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:32 pm

“Ikiru” is great. “The Bad Sleep Well” is great. “Drunken Angel” is great. Overall, I’d say I prefer the contemporary Kurosawa myself.

mryan

July 10th, 2009
4:33 pm

funny stuff, guys. Mr. Bradley – nice feedback.

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:34 pm

Why, thanks, Class. Your note just brought a tear to my eye.

Meanwhile...adjusting to the new blog paradigm

July 10th, 2009
4:40 pm

Re: Answering the FAQ’s of the day, in a timeless fashion.

Q: Why must the Hawks still draft a point guard?

A: It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Q: Should the Braves trade Yunel Escobar?

A: What we’ve got here is…failure to communicate.

Q: Should the Braves be buyers or sellers?

A: I love the smell of napalm in the morning…Smells like…victory.

And of course the question for our times, deserves the answer for our times:

Q: Do the Braves need a new manager?

A: Rosebud.

rip

July 10th, 2009
4:41 pm

I would pay for AJC if they would get practical on their stories. I read one this week where the discussed how the City Council voted 8 – 7 to raise taxes. Go the extra step please, why not list the city council persons who voted Yes and who voted No. Just madenning. i would pay no more than 15% of what the NY times asks for.

CincyJacket

July 10th, 2009
4:41 pm

Monthly fee for AJC.com? No, I wouldn’t bother unless I found away around it. I come because its a good place for Atlanta News, but as a college student, its not worth paying for.

Good job so far with the three times a day. They’ve been pretty decent when I’ve checked them out (Not every day).

wxwax

July 10th, 2009
4:43 pm

Some ideas, mostly terrible, but maybe they’ll spark a better idea. (Better Holly Martins than Sylvia Plath.)

Will Arthur Blank Push Matt Ryan’s Wheelchair?
Did Blank get lucky or smart in assembling the Falcons’ braintrust? After all, Smith was more-or-less picked by Blank. Has Blank changed?

Is Georgia Tech Overrated?
Everyone expects great things from Paul Johnson’s second season on the Flats. Too much, maybe? He’s unlikely to beat Georgia twice in a row. His defense has serious issues to address. And his QB’s still have a lot to prove.

Spirits Rising at Philips?
The Hawks and the Thrashers are making noise in the free agent and trade markets. Reading the Spirit’s tea leaves, is this a sign they think they’ll win their ownership battle and are ready to invest in the teams? Did somebody sound an alarm over Thrashers apathy? Or is the hapless ownership still just along for the ride?

Why Does Attendance Come In Last at AMS?
NASCAR struggles to sell-out in one of its biggest markets. Not just occasionally, but regularly. What’s wrong?

Women’s Soccer v2
What’s going down with the Beat, Atlanta’s new WPL franchise?

Has Leo Mazzone Struck Out?
Why won’t anyone hire him?

Mark Bradley

July 10th, 2009
4:47 pm

Gee, Wxwax, those are really good ideas. They actually sound like the budget lines editors assign to our stories. You sure you’re not an editor?

Good lines, Meanwhile. Especially the “Rosebud” one.

wxwax

July 10th, 2009
4:47 pm

[I]But I did see something about the New York Times considering a charge of $5 a month to use its Web site. So now I’ll ask you folks: Would you pay a small monthly fee to read AJC.com online? (Don’t feel obliged to say yes. You won’t hurt my feelings. I’d really like to know.)[/I]

One of two things will happen. Either local newspapers charge for their online product. Or they will go out of business, or at least change beyond recognition.

I like free, but I also like local reporting. I’m resigned to getting kicked-off the free ride.

Herschel Talker

July 10th, 2009
4:52 pm

Mark – I wouldn’t pay a cent to see this online.

CincyJacket

July 10th, 2009
4:55 pm

Suggestions:
Favorite Food spots before/after games
Favorite seats in each stadiums
Smaller sporting events worth checking out