Will Chicago's best sportswriting soon be online? | Bleader

Will Chicago's best sportswriting soon be online?

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Author Jonathan Eig is organizing a new sports site, chicagosidesports.com, that at the moment is little more than an empty screen but next spring, if all goes well, will offer a collection of top writers that puts the dailies to shame.

Launch day is Opening Day, April 1. The original idea was to launch the site when the pitchers and catchers report to spring training about five weeks earlier, but Eig didn't think it would be ready that quickly. Time Out Chicago blogger Robert Feder has posted a thorough description of what Eig and cofounder Sol Lieberman have in mind, but it overstates considerably the progress Eig has actually made in his planning. Feder writes:

Eig already has assembled a lineup of more than three dozen writers, including newspaper and magazine veterans Lou Carlozo, George Castle, Jim Coffman, Lauren Etter, Elliott Harris, Noah Isackson, Billy Lombardo, Amy Merrick, Joel Reese, Chris Silva and Alan Solomon, along with best-selling authors Joseph Epstein, James Finn Garner and Robert Kurson.

If Eig winds up with even a fraction of these writers contributing regularly to his site, I'll bookmark it. But at this stage, he's assembled these writers only in a Near North bar. Solomon e-mailed me: "My involvement with ChicagoSide so far is limited to Jon Aig inviting me and about 25 others for beer, pizza and a briefing last Tuesday night in a back room at Go Roma, on North State. I showed up, met Jon, let myself be briefed, ate pizza, passed on the beer, didn't get a T-shirt and said 'thanks.' I did ask a question, about story length. The answer: depends on the story."

But Solomon (formerly of the Tribune) liked what he heard from Eig, and he's interested.

The site will ultimately be judged by the new reputations it creates, not the old ones it borrows. "It's nice to have a couple of names attached." says Eig, but adds, "There is so much hungry young talent out there that just has never had a chance. We've got no problem finding people who want to write."

Or hungry old talent. I ask Eig if the subject of a living wage came up at Go Roma. He laughs. "We told them right up front, don't tell your wife this is your new job. And don't expect to get rich. We'll have fun and make a profit, but we don't know when."

He says the break-even point might not be far off because there's so little overhead to a website. Besides, "most of the guys—the ad guy, the marketing guy—want a share when this pops and are working for free now. They're working for a piece of the pie. We're doing this super lean."

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