I can’t stand when big news or a big rumor breaks on the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, I was crashing hard – I have a three-week-old son – and my wife suggested I take a nap. I resisted because I knew that news about Scott Baker’s ailing elbow was going to be coming at any moment. My wife graciously offered to monitor my Twitter feed and wake me up if anything about Baker broke (seriously, this happened). True to her word, she shook me awake an hour later, and I started writing – half asleep – about Baker being out for as much as the first half of the season. That’s when I saw that the Cubs had also cut Rafael Dolis. And Ian Stewart was going to be out another two weeks. And the Yankees were trading for Vernon Wells rather than Alfonso Soriano.
And, man, sitting there reading all of these storylines on a Sunday afternoon really pissed me off.
No, it’s not because I mind my weekends being interrupted by work. I mean, I mind it, but accepting that “the weekend” was more of a concept than an actual thing happened for me at some point between my first and second week of being a lawyer. I’m used to working on weekends. I wear big boy pants.
No, the reason I hate when something big breaks on the weekends is because the vast majority of Bleacher Nation readers are slackers.
That’s the exaggerated conclusion I’ve drawn from years of writing at the site and assiduously studying my site’s traffic stats.
Put simply: weekday traffic blows weekend traffic away. Maybe it seems counterintuitive, given that BN is a leisure read, covering a sport, but most people read the site during the week. I’m assuming, then, that most folks read from work. When the weekend rolls around, folks aren’t on their computer (or tablet or phone) consuming content, and my traffic is consistently cut in half.
The trend is completely content insensitive, too. When the aforementioned “big” thing breaks on the weekend, the impact it has on traffic is dramatically reduced compared to what it would be if the “big” thing happened on a Tuesday or a Thursday. It became clear to me early on in the site’s history that writing regularly on the weekends – something for which I had a great deal more time when I had a day job, and writing more on the weekdays than on the weekends was a real pain in the ass – simply wasn’t worth the return on my time. Worse, it completely cannibalized weekday readership and participation that would have been far more impressive if I’d just waited until Monday. Not everyone goes back and reads things from the weekend when they hop onto BN in the office on Monday. It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
So, I learned to do whatever I could to hold off on writing about things until Monday if it could reasonably be done.
This is tricky on a news and rumor-focused site, because news and rumors happen when they happen. If a story breaks on a Saturday, then it’s time to start typing, regardless of whether most of your readers are out enjoying the weather with their families. Then again, “news” and “rumors” aren’t always black and white, and some things are low-impact enough to wait until Monday, while others need attention immediate, lest I be perceived as inattentive and failing my readers.
It’s a constant balancing act for me, and one that I’m not sure I’ve yet mastered. At what level do I sacrifice timeliness for attention? How much waiting time is too much waiting time? How “big” must a story be to merit immediate publication? Can a Sunday morning trade rumor involving a bench player wait until Monday morning? Can a Saturday afternoon injury update wait until Monday morning?
A few Sundays ago, I was driving to and from my grandfather’s funeral in Toledo. On the way up, news broke about Matt Garza’s injury recovery. I decided that was too time sensitive to wait, so I pulled into a rest stop so I could feverishly write an update (on my phone). At the same time, Dale Sveum announced that Jeff Samardzija would be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter. I considered that bit, and decided that, unlike Garza injury news, the Samardzija piece could wait until Monday morning. It was two parts personal – I was on my way to a funeral, for crying out loud – and one part business – Samardzija as the Opening Day starter was largely anticipated, and it’s the kind of “fluffier” news that can wait. So I waited.
The next morning, when I wrote about the Opening Day decision as a part of the morning Bullets, I was actually chided in the comments by someone who gave me the thanks-for-the-news-that-everyone-already-knew-about treatment. Was my calculus off? Should I have written about that news immediately?
I’m constantly walking that line on the weekends.
Of course, this second-class treatment of the weekends has a self-fulfilling effect: I don’t see impact in weekend writing, so I do less weekend writing, so people expect less weekend writing, so I see less impact in weekend writing.
I suppose that’s OK. I’m allowed to have a weekend, right? I suppose that’s a piece of this, too. I decided to take a cue from my readers and treat my weekend as they do: more time outside, more time having fun, more time with family, and more time away from my screen. You’ll just have to wait on that Sunday morning trade rumor.
Unless it’s a real doozy.