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Yet any initiative to bring more high-toned sportswriting into the world will find me applauding. That was my reaction last December when word got out that author Jonathan Eig and his pal Sol Lieberman were putting together an all-sports website, and it was my reaction Monday when the site, chicagosidesports.com, went public. It's stuffed with stories, most written while the site was in its beta phase, and Eig promises a new story a day for now, ultimately, if all goes well, more.
"We're trying to be conservative," says Eig. "If we can hire a couple more editors so I don't have to edit this alone, maybe we’ll put a few more stories up there. Do one thing well and then see if maybe you can do two things well."
Eig says he has a list of about 80 writers who have shown some interest in his site, about 25 of whom have actually sent in ideas and stories. He's paying $50 for every story he posts. And because of a cooperative arrangement with Time Out Chicago, there's another 50 bucks for the writer if TOC picks it up, $100 if TOC runs it as a feature story, and $150 if TOC puts it on the cover.
I asked Eig about the paid staff. There is none, he says. He does most of the editing, and Lieberman, who used to handle digital development for the Better Government Association, handles creative design. Neither draws a salary. Neither do the social media director and the associate editor. If the ad sales person wants a salary it's up to her to raise it.
"ChicagoSide brings you the best Chicago sports journalism in town. Period. Dozens of the city’s best sportswriters will compete each day to come up with the lead story," the website promises. That tussle sounds exciting enough to deserve its own coverage.