Save Empty Netters

I pay for Post-Gazette Plus. I don’t have to — the site is so buggy that about 80% of the time I go to the PBC Blog I can read what I need to read there without logging in — but I do it because I know that writing a blog like WHYGAVS would be impossible without the hard day-to-day work put in by the local beat reporters and because Dejan Kovacevic has been a huge friend to Pirate bloggers since the PBC Blog launched. I’d pay for Rob Biertempfel or Jen Langosch if they went behind a paywall, too, because it’s the least I can do.

I’m not happy about paying for the PG+, though. They essentially put breaking Pirate news behind a paywall and instead of delivering a useful and intuitive site, the whole thing is a buggy mess that, as mentioned, I could be using for free if I really wanted to. I don’t mean to criticize the staffers at the PG that work on maintaining the site: Joomla is a beast to work with (see: the commenting issues on WHYGAVS since my move to Bloguin in December ’08) and I frankly can’t imagine trying to maintain something on the scale of the PG+ with it. Really, the problem goes higher up, with whoever decided to launch a paywall product that still doesn’t work all that well even though it’s been live for more than a year. Still, I subscribed because the $35 or whatever was something I could afford and I felt it was the right thing to do to support DK and his blog.

Today, Seth Rorabaugh mentioned that the Post-Gazette is considering doing away with his excellent Penguins’ blog, Empty Netters. You may recall that during the 2008 playoffs, I blogged about hockey quite a bit for FanHouse when they were in a pinch. Seth’s blog was a daily read for me because it was smart, funny, and incredibly informative about everything going on in the NHL. It was exactly the sort of product that other newspapers weren’t pushing at the time (and generally still aren’t now), and it made me proud that a Pittsburgh paper was thinking unconventionally at a time when newspapers were so obviously struggling.

So now, the PG is threatening to cancel one of their best alternative sports offerings while delivering a broken paysite and running Bob Smizik’s daily regurgitation of links and Pittsburgh sports-related tripe in a prominent place on the site. Did you read Smizik’s post the other day about the Pirates managerial opening? He compared Clint Hurdle to Gene Lamont based entirely on their records (Guess who Gene Lamont’s career .496 winning percentage is identical to? It’s Jim Leyland! Using only winning percentage to judge managers is infinitely dumber than using it to judge pitchers, and it’s pretty freaking dumb to use it to judge pitchers.) and then used some weasel words to imply that before Jeff Banister had been out of work since 2002 before becoming the Pirates’ interim bench coach, even though that’s obviously not the case. And he’s the one that thinks Frank Coonelly is dishonest. This is the sort of thing the PG wants to run instead of a quality site like Seth’s?

When my PG+ subscription is up, I’m going to have to think long and hard about whether I want to support a paper that makes decisions like the one the Post-Gazette is on the verge of making today.

UPDATE: The Pensblog has contact information at the Post-Gazette. And I’ll reiterate what Seth asks over there: if you’re going to contact them, please be respectful (not that I think you guys won’t).

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.