I've always been honest with you, the readers of this site. Because although 97% of the content is provided by one individual (me), this place has always been and will always be about you guys. I build the city. You populate it and provide its often insane personality.
At the end of December we're leaving the Tribune's ChicagoNow blog network - our home for the past four years. This was not an easy decision. Being part of a large network - especially one owned by the Tribune - comes with a certain amount of journalistic cache and more importantly comes with a tech team ready to troubleshoot problems as they arise. (It also came with a monthly paycheck.) But for two very specific reasons I could no longer allow the benefits of the ChicagoNow network outweigh the negative experience for both myself and the readers.
First, many of you have emailed me over the last few years, complaining about the awful experience this site provides in the comments section. Comments appearing out of order. Comments taking ten minutes to load. Inability to post links in the comments. Inability to control name-stealing troll monkeys. While I believe the ChicagoNow folks have done their best to solve those issues either they don't seem to improve or new issues arise and we've lost some truly loyal readers/commenters as a result. That, to me, is unacceptable.
Second, I hate the way this site looks. Despise it. And I spend too much time and energy attempting to create something special to be embarrassed when I direct a friend or colleague to DaBearsBlog. I dealt with that embarrassment in 2011 because, quite frankly, I needed the monthly check I was receiving. But two things have changed in 2012. (1) Due to a few things breaking my way, I have more money. (2) We are having a great year - to parallel the Bears - with the podcasts, the tee shirts, traffic...etc. And I want the site to look as good as it should.
Last week I made the decision to go back on our own. Before informing ChicagoNow of that decision I sent them a note asking, in no uncertain terms, for a raise. My thought was I could withstand these issues in the short term while Noah and I spent the early part of 2013 designing and developing the new and improved DaBearsBlog. When the pay bump was refused I said, "Fuck it, let's go." And so we're going.
On January 1st 2013 we will be live at DaBearsBlog.com. The transition won't be seamless but we'll make it as seamless as possible. We'll set up a commenter identification system to limit trolls. We'll have separate sections for news, audio/podcasts and main threads. We'll have a constantly standing store to sell shirts and such. We'll also be adding a new wing to the blog where I'll present some long form pieces about the whole of the sports world: golf, soccer, NASCAR...etc. You don't have to read them but they'll be there. And it'll all look good.
Since we have six weeks, I welcome your ideas and input. Email me (email@example.com) and let me know what you'd like the site to be. We won't incorporate every idea but we'll do our best.
This feels right. It's time. We thanks Jimmy and the folks at ChicagoNow for their work over the last four years. It was a good period for the site.