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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Exclusively Unpaid

I wrote a post on the Vosburgh for the NTRA site as part of the TBA's Breeders' Cup blog section, and I intended to post it here too. But then I was informed that the posts are "exclusive" to NTRA, and I'm like, huh?? Say what?? I mean, it's not like I'm actually getting paid or anything, just stupidly, once again, donating my services for no compensation whatsoever. So, what the hell are they going to do, sue me? Kick me off (like I would care)? I fully intend to find out the answer to that question at some point.

"You'll get great exposure," I've always been told when pitched by websites that don't want to pay. And there was a time when that was an inducement for me. But at this point, as I've pretty drastically cut back on the frequency and scope of my posts and settled comfortably and happily into a niche audience that I figure isn't going to grow, I really don't care. And besides, the truth is that I've never seen any perceptible or lasting increase in readership from any of the sites for which I've written for free, such as The Rail, or Bloodhorse, or Horseraceinsider.

It's our own fault, us racing bloggers including myself, that we've devalued ourselves in the marketplace to the point where it's just taken for granted that we'll do stuff for no pay. My most recent such "offer," prior to this NTRA thing (which I did largely as a favor for a friend), was from TVG, for some "community" site they were planning. I politely explained that I was not willing to contribute without compensation, and, not surprisingly, never heard from them again. Big surprise there.

But at least TVG, as well as all of the other sites mentioned above, had no objection to me using the posts on LATG. Frankly, I was just incredulous when I was told about that, and I think NTRA has a lot of damn gall as Arlo Guthrie once said. Whatsmore, we've been directed to keep our posts "positive," devoid of any meaningful criticism of the Breeders Cup. I feel as if what they really want is an obedient mercenary of shills, and unpaid ones for that matter. I was told that, after the first batch of posts, some folks over there wondered if some of us even like the Breeders Cup.

But I think that anyone who devotes a portion of his or her precious time to writing for free on the subject of horse racing truly does "like" the Breeders Cup, me included. But not of all of us like the way the event has been staged over the last couple of years. And, if the Breeders Cup and NTRA is truly interested in feedback from racing fans as they claim, meaningful discussions initiated by devoted yet skeptical bloggers and writers is a great way to start. But apparently, the NTRA site during Breeders Cup time is not the proper place for that debate, and that's a missed opportunity for everyone involved....and, frankly, a waste of time for me.

- If anyone cares or is reading at this late stage of Saturday, I picked the Fabulous Strike - Go Go Shoot exacta in that post, taking stands against Munnings and Kodiak Kowboy. I also love Macho Again in the JCGC. It's not a race I've spent much time analyzing. Sometimes it gets to a point when one becomes so familiar with the contestants that one can easily come to a conclusion without poring over the Form. Basically, I remain skeptical of the two three-year olds Summer Bird and Quality Road, and have been won over by the dogged consistency and improvement shown by Dallas Stewart's four-year old son of Macho Uno. Now, I need to get down and figure out the other two races in the late Pick Four sequence.

- Off topic, some music notes. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, in their final club appearance this time around, rocked the Music Hall of Williamsburg in an ebullient performance in their hometown. Karen O's dad was there, and I hope that Mr. O had as good a time as I. And last week I got to see Polve at the Bell House; another influential 90's twisted guitar combo back together and better than ever. Their excellent comeback album In Prism, is available on Merge. The track Beggars Bowl is an instant classic; I figure that anyone who can't dig it (like the Head Chef) just doesn't see eye to eye with me as to what constitutes meaningful, original, passionate, kickass rock and roll. (Not that there's anything wrong with that; not being judgmental at all. To each his own, after all.)

Reminder for those of you up in the Capital District that the mighty Dinosaur Jr plays at Northern Lights in Clifton Park on Sunday night; wish I could be there. Their album Farm, available on Jagjaguwar Records, just keeps getting better and better, and I can't wait to see them play with Sonic Youth here on November 21. Dino Jr's genius bassist Lou Barlow opens that show with his own band, playing songs I'm sure from his forthcoming album Goodnight Unknown, also on Merge; and I'll be seeing him at the Mercury Lounge on Tuesday in his only headlining gig of the tour.


The Turk said...

As one of the happily devalued horse racing bloggers, I wear the badge proudly. I've been asked by a few different folks that sell PP's to hawk thier products and they can't understand when I say no thanks.

I dig the horses and I dig handicapping. I wouldn't or couldn't do it any better if I was paid so I guess I'm more of the problem then the solution.

If it means anything, the bloggers who are writing at the NTRA website representing the TBA are doing great work. When the sport regains its glory, the spoils of blogging will come. In our current twisted society that places value on throw away celebrity, I'm just not sure when that day will come.

Anonymous said...

Dude, take a xanex.

jk said...

1. Screw the NTRA.

2. Rangers are 0-1.

El Angelo said...

Blogging is a labor of love for all but a few. Even the more popular ones like Deadspin don't generate that much money for their writers.

Turk, I'd love to see all of you guys and gals rise to the top when the sport regains its glory, except that I don't think that's ever going to happen. In sports, it's going to be the NFL and niche sports in the future. And there's nothing wrong with that, so long as thoroughbred racing doesn't turn into a punchline like harness racing.

BitPlayer said...

It's the Group W bench for you.

Anonymous said...

You are always well worth reading, so though it's not a paying gig, it's appreciated and enjoyed.

And I'd much rather read your real opinions. The happy, smiley facade of the NTRA gives me gas.

Teresa said...

Kudos, Alan, for saying out loud what a lot of us have thought. It is particularly galling, as you have pointed out, when a website that refuses to pay you then sells advertising on the page where your work appears--making money off the work that you have produced.

In my experience, the "exposure" that one gets writing for other people for free generally leads to other people asking you to write for free.

And that they claim that they own your content and that it's exclusive to them is, as you point out, rubbish.

I think I like this Del Zotto kid.

Anonymous said...

1. fuck the ntra they suck!

2. dinosaur rules sludgefeast!

3 rangers are now 1-1 dubi! and gabby!

4. latg fun!

cheers, chris

Anonymous said...

Just take your lead from Jim Morrison's performance when Ed Sullivan told him what NOT to sing on his show way back when.

Kevin said...

Cheers to you Alan.

The only commodity a blogger has is his/her independence. I don't understand why anyone would fall over themselves to write free for someone else especially an entity like the NTRA. Is anyone really surprised that they would be heavy handed about the process? That is what a PR firm does!

The NTRA has real nuts to 1) request that everyone be "nice" and 2) that they have rights to YOUR work. Sounds like they gave you the same deal they give to paid writers. Ridiculous!

Thanks for posting this!

Kevin said...

I forgot to mention that the TBA bloggers for NTRA are doing great work!

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for bloggers who want to get "exposure" -- write a good blog! You might get some traffic writing for the NTRA but if your blog sucks it won't matter because, well, your blog sucks!

Anonymous said...

Spot-on, Alan. I bet you (and select other unpaid bloggers) care more passionately about the sport of horseracing than half of the suits at NTRA, NYRA and TBA combined. Mike D.