Hello! Today I have an important announcement about a new platform where Uni Watch is now appearing.
So: You may have heard some chatter lately about Bulletin, a new content platform launched a few weeks ago by Facebook. Bulletin content includes coverage of niche topics in sports, local news, science/tech, home/family, business, food, travel, and lots of other areas — pretty much everything except partisan politics. (You can see a good article about Bulletin, published back in early June, here, and there have been lots of additional articles since then.)
Bulletin launched on June 29 with a dozen big-name writers, including Malcolm Gladwell, Mitch Albom, Erin Andrews, and Dorie Greenspan. Another 31 writers went live yesterday, and I’m excited to announce that one of them was me! Here’s my new Uni Watch page on Bulletin, where you can see that my first Bulletin piece (mostly an FAQ-style intro/explainer article) is already up. I’ll have another piece on Bulletin on Friday, and then I’ll be doing Uni Watch pieces for Bulletin on a weekly basis after that.
Let’s shift into FAQ mode:
How long has this been in the works?
I don’t know when Facebook started planning to develop Bulletin, but they first got in touch with me in mid-March.
So they approached you, not the other way around?
Yes. All Bulletin writers have been recruited by Facebook. My understanding is that there will be more of those writers launching in the weeks and months to come.
Who are these other writers?
The 12 big names who were part of Bulletin’s launch in late June are listed at the bottom of this Facebook article. The 31 additional writers whose pages went live yesterday, including me, are listed here. Again, there are more writers to come, but I’m not privy to their identities.
You just said you’ll be writing for Bulletin once a week. Will it be the same day each week?
The first entry was posted in advance so there’d already be some content ready to go for the rollout. Going forward, though, my Bulletin articles will usually be on either Thursday or Friday (although that could occasionally change due to breaking news or other scheduling issues).
How long will the Bulletin pieces be?
About the same as a blog post, not counting the Ticker.
What will happen here on the blog on a day when you have a Bulletin post?
It’ll be similar to when I used to have an ESPN column running, or nowadays when I have an InsideHook piece. There’ll still be a blog post, but it won’t have a full-length lede item and might not have sub-ledes either. Instead, it’ll say, “I have a new Bulletin post today about [x]” (with a link to the Bulletin piece, of course), and then it will proceed directly to any sub-ledes and the Ticker.
Will there be any theme or unifying through-line for the Bulletin content?
I’m hoping to use the Bulletin column for a lot of interviews. That’s not to say that every Bulletin piece will be an interview, but most interview transcripts I publish for the foreseeable future will probably end up on Bulletin. “Question Time” will move to Bulletin as well, and maybe a few other things.
But some of my other Bulletin posts may be very much like Uni Watch blog posts. Basically, it will be a lot like the content you’ve come to expect here on this website, except it’ll be on Bulletin.
What about non-uni content like travelogues, recipes, and so on?
That will continue to appear here on this website, not on Bulletin.
What about your InsideHook columns?
I’m still under contract to do one IH piece per month for the rest of 2021, including all the season previews that I do every fall. The Bulletin gig doesn’t change any of that. (In fact, I have a new InsideHook piece today!)
What about your annual August break from the blog?
That will still happen. Phil will run the site next month, just as he’s done in previous years. But I’ll still be doing my weekly Bulletin pieces during August. (I’m also taking a vacation in early August — my first in two years — but I’ll post that week’s Bulletin piece from the road.)
Will this affect the Unified podcast in any way?
Whenever we do a new episode, a link and an audio player will automatically be posted to my Bulletin page. But this new gig won’t have any effect on the podcast itself. (Speaking of the podcast: New episode tomorrow!)
Will your Bulletin posts also link back to the blog, and to your other work?
Why are the hyperlinked text passages in your first Bulletin article colored grey, instead of something more contrast-y? It looks weird.
One of the hassles of being part of a new platform launch is that you’re essentially a guinea pig for the tech glitches that inevitably arise. In this case, the text links are supposed to be my theme color (green, of course), but instead they’re showing up as grey. I’ve been told that this will be fixed soon. Fingers crossed!
Is Bulletin paying you?
What about health insurance, 401(k), a free laptop, and all that other good stuff?
Bulletin writers are independent contractors, not employees, so I don’t get any benefits. Or to put it another way: I still have to pay for my own health insurance (which currently costs me $793/month, grrrr).
I’m confused, because I’ve heard Bulletin described as a newsletter platform. Are you writing a web column or a newsletter?
Both. My Bulletin posts will appear on my Bulletin page, where you can access them like anything else on the web, plus you can subscribe to receive them as an emailed newsletter if you like. The sign-up/subscription link is on the Bulletin page.
Will there be any difference between the emailed and web versions of a Bulletin piece?
You can’t post a comment on the emailed version (obviously). Aside from that, there should be no difference.
Does it cost anything to subscribe to the newsletter (or to read the web version, for that matter)?
No — at least for now. Bulletin writers are allowed to charge a subscription fee, or to create premium paywalled content, but I’ve decided to make all my Bulletin content free for at least a few months, and probably through the end of 2021. After that, I might charge a small fee — a few bucks a month, say — or I might not. We’ll see.
I don’t have a Facebook account. Will I still be able to read this content?
Yes, at least for now — you can access Bulletin pages like any other links on the web, and you can sign up for the emailed version regardless of whether you have a Facebook account. If I decide to charge a small amount for the content at some point, you’d have to establish a Facebook account just to process the payment. And you’ll need a Facebook account if you want to post comments on the web version of the Bulletin content.
Are you working with an editor?
No. I have a Bulletin contact person/overseer and access to various types of support staff, but nobody has to approve my story topics in advance, nobody edits my copy, and there’s nobody between me and the “Publish” button. In that regard, it’s basically the same as blogging (even though more people seem to be calling it newslettering).
This all sounds a lot like Substack.
Yes, Bulletin is clearly Facebook’s attempt to compete with Substack. Again, to me it just feels like blogging.
So this is all part of the new “creator economy” that I keep hearing about?
That’s how it’s being framed by Facebook and by media analysts, although I have to laugh at that, because the “creator economy” is basically what I’ve already been doing for most of my career. (Of course, I’m not unique in that regard. Lots of people in the Uni Watch orbit also fit that description.)
If there’s nobody editing your copy, won’t it be full of typos?
Most people don’t realize this, but for years now longtime Uni Watch reader Jerry Wolper has generously proofread my weekday blog posts after they’re published each morning, so most of my typos get fixed shortly after each piece goes up. He’s done this on a volunteer basis, but now I’m using some of my Bulletin pay to hire him in a more official capacity. He’ll continue proofreading here on the blog and will also proof my Bulletin content in advance (so the typos will be fixed before the emailed version goes out).
Will the the Bulletin posts feature the Facebook logo, or big banner that says, “Bulletin, by Facebook,” or anything like that?
No. There’s no Facebook branding on Bulletin posts except at the very bottom of the page, where there’s small type that says, “Facebook Bulletin.”
Will there be advertising on the Bulletin pages?
No. I’m thrilled that my Bulletin work will be appearing in an uncluttered, ad-free setting.
Wait a minute — if Facebook/Bulletin is paying you, and the content is free, and there are no ads, then how do they make money on this venture? What’s in it for them?
They’re paying me for a limited period of time. After that term is up, the direct payments will stop but I can keep generating revenue via subscription fees. If I choose to do that, they will skim a percentage of those fees, so that’s the business model from their end. Again, this is similar to how Substack works.
Anyone can sign up to create a Substack. Can anyone sign up to start writing for Bulletin too?
I think that’s the plan for some point down the road. But for now, Bulletin is only for the writers who were recruited to be part of the initial rollout, as I was.
Will Facebook use its social media muscle to help drive more eyeballs to your Bulletin work?
That’s the idea, yes. Bulletin posts (not just mine) will start showing up in Facebook news feeds, which I hope will help connect Uni Watch with a new audience.
A few weeks ago you said you had some “big news” that you were about to announce, and then it never happened. Was that about Bulletin?
Yes. There were some last-minute changes regarding when my page was scheduled to go live. Sorry about that earlier false alarm.
If your Bulletin rollout was yesterday, why did you wait until today to run this announcement post?
My Bulletin page didn’t go live yesterday until 11am Eastern. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it until then, and my policy is to publish each day’s blog post at least two hours earlier than that, so I decided to publish a regular blog post yesterday and save the announcement for today.
I refuse to have anything to do with Facebook because of [insert assorted objections to Facebook here], so I’m not going to read this new content of yours.
I understand people’s concerns about Facebook, just as I understood people’s concerns when I wrote for ESPN (in bed with the leagues they cover), Sports Illustrated (the annual swim-porn issue), and other venues with potentially troubling circumstances.
The reality is that there are few if any perfect media platforms out there. That doesn’t mean we should just throw up our hands and give up on ethical and moral standards, but it means we all have to decide for ourselves where we draw the line regarding media outlets we refuse to engage with. I’ve said before, for example, that I won’t have anything to do with Barstool Sports or Fox News under any circumstances. But Facebook? Again, I understand the concerns about them, but I enjoy using their product (it’s helped me reconnect with lots of childhood friends who I’d long ago lost touch with, for example), and I’m willing to work with them.
If you feel differently, I respect that position, and of course I also respect whatever decisions you make about what you choose to read or not read. That’s up to you.
If you have any additional questions that I didn’t address here, feel free to post them in today’s comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
Personally, I’m pretty excited about all of this. For starters, the extra coin will give me some financial stability and security. And if Facebook’s algorithmic muscle really does help connect Uni Watch with new readers, at least some of those readers would presumably find their way back to this website, so that could help grow our comm-uni-ty.
Also, I have to say, it’s nice to have some positive news to report. 2019 was a rough year for Uni Watch, and 2020 was a rough year for all of us. As we emerge from the pandemic (I hope), this new Bulletin development feels like a nice symbol of things looking brighter on multiple fronts.
Again, my Bulletin page is here, my first Bulletin post is here, and both of those pages have a link where you can sign up to receive all of my future Bulletin content via email. Thanks for listening.
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ITEM! Olympics Preview now available: With the Tokyo Olympics set to open this Friday — well, assuming they aren’t cancelled instead — my latest piece for InsideHook is a rundown of Olympics uniform storylines to keep an eye on during the games (including the Team USA hoops unis, shown above). Check it out here.
James McCann… hit the ball twice in one swing last night 👀 pic.twitter.com/OmatiixDoL
— The Baseball Newsletter (@bbletter) July 20, 2021
Two (or more) for the price of one: Mets catcher James McCann pulled off a rare feat during Monday night’s game against the Reds when he hit the ball twice with one swing, as seen above.
I was looking for more info on that and discovered something really wonderful: MLB.com writer Shanthi Sepe-Chepuru is so obsessed with the multiple-contact phenomenon that she’s kept a running list of players who’ve done it — with accompanying video! Now that’s a serious niche fixation, and one that I can totally get behind.
Naturally, Sepe-Chepuru added McCann to her list following his double-contact swing on Monday night. You can see her full rundown — including one video clip that shows Giants outfielder Hunter Pence hitting the ball three times on one swing! — here. Enjoy!
Good triumphs over evil: Congrats to the Bucks and their fans on last night’s NBA championship win. I’m a bit disappointed that they wore so little green for the clinching game, but the fact remains: Green has defeated Purple, and thus all is right in the uni-verse.
Meanwhile, here’s something to consider: The reigning champs in the NFL and NBA are now the Bucs and the Bucks. Now we just need the Pirates (nicknamed the Bucs) to win the World Series, but that seems highly unlikely. As for the NHL, perhaps the Ducks would suffice — at least it would rhyme, right?
Seam ripper update: I just replenished my supply of Uni Watch seam rippers, so all colors are now back in stock. If you want to join the remove-ment, the rippers are available here.
By Lloyd Alaban
Baseball News: Padres 3B coach Bobby Dickerson had some unusual spacing on his NOB last night (from David Murphy). … From that same game: Padres 1B Eric Hosmer suffered a batting helmet decal mishap last night (from multiple readers). … Also from that game: A video board in Atlanta’s ballpark showed the Padres’ old wordmark. … A Bay Area graphic designer’s two-year-old mock-ups of uniforms and logos for a then-hypothetical move by the A’s to Las Vegas have resurfaced and created a stir on social media (from Kary Klismet). … Blue Jays P Adam Cimber wore his pants over his knees, and social media had some things to say about it (from @realRosebud). … Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani has signed an exclusive memorabilia/merch deal with Fanatics (from multiple readers). … Red vs. red last night for the Fredricksburg Nationals and Salem Red Sox (from Clark Ruhland). … Plate ump Tom Hallion punched a punch-out so hard during last night’s Marlins/Nationals game that his mask went a bit off-kilter (from Max Weintraub). … Have the Red Sox already revised their City Connect cap? Sure looks that way.
Football News: New unis for Western Michigan University (from Joseph Zurek). … Here’s a retro helmet display at West Virginia’s newly-remodeled practice facility (from Alan Saunders). … President Biden hosted the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers yesterday and received a No. 46 jersey with his NOB, while Vice President Harris received a No. 49 jersey (from multiple readers).
Soccer News: New shirts for Atalanta (from multiple readers). … Atlanta United fired coach Gabriel Heinze on Sunday for numerous infractions, including not letting the players or equipment staff know who was in the lineup until late in the evening on the day before the game, which created a late-night scramble to get the game jerseys ready (from Michael Rich). … Romanian club Dinamo București will wear shirts with the names of 2,000 supporters who donated at least 490 Euros when the club was struggling financially (from our own Anthony Emerson). … New shirts for Mexican sides Alibrejes and Club Puebla (both from Trevor Williams). … The rest of these are from Ed Zelaski: New shirt for Portuguese side Santa Clara. … New kits for Polish clubs New shirtsRadomiak Radom and Wisła Płock.
Olympics News: Argentina’s men’s and women’s field hockey teams have released their Olympic kits (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … With softball back in the Games this year and competition getting underway last night, Australia became the first softball team in Olympic history to wear standard baseball-style pants. Their opponents, Japan, wore shorts, which used to be compulsory (from Cork Gaines and Chris Hockman). … Nigeria’s track and field athletes will wear AFA kits instead of Puma (from our own Phil Hecken). … The 2032 Summer Games will be held in Brisbane, Australia.
Grab Bag: The Norway women’s beach handball team was fined 1,500 Euros for what the European Handball Federation says is improper shorts (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Fans aren’t liking English rugby union and netball team Wasps RFC’s new logo (from our own Brinke Guthrie). … The Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League unveiled its championship trophy, which is named the Mearns Cup (from Wade Heidt). … New uniforms for Japanese men’s volleyball team Panasonic Panthers (from Jeremy Brahm).