Let us all gather around, hold hands, exhale, and take stock of what the good lord has given us. Once we vocalize our past transgressions it is only then that we may partake of the bitter coffee and stale donuts in the back. I’ll go first. My name is Miquel. I am a Bolditalic and by that I mean that I was paid to write for The Bold Italic. I talk of this now as The Bold Italic is no more.
Looking back, it didn’t seem like something wrong. Anyone who could was doing it as $300 an article (this dropped to $75 near the end) seemed like good money in a time when writers wrote merely for “exposure” or worse, The San Francisco Chronicle. It was a tricky process to start there though as my personal Editor in Chief had contacted them initially but met with no answer from their submission form that obviously went to a Yahoo email that no one checked. It was only after I met with the original Editor in Knee Boots, Nicole at an SF blogging meet up that I was able to make some progress and even that I suspect was due to their content being far too “girly”. Then of course it took some three months of dead-end emails before that first article was finally approved and became their most viewed to that point.
I wrote six articles there and it’s in looking back at the process I realized quite quickly how this little black hole of money for mother company, Gannett was never going to be successful. Nicole was not an editor. She happened to be present when design company Ideo finished building this gooey heap of technology for Gannett and for some reason it was decided that she would run it. I can’t really dream up a sufficient analogy to sum up how to portray dysfunctional nature of this but I was persistent and I kept at it despite great gobs of push back.
I should have stopped, but I couldn’t. The money was good, delicious despite sporadic. There were some of the most atrocious articles written by the least knowledgeable “San Franciscans” popping up on there but oh how I loved that money which supplemented my selling out to work at Big Pharma at the time as well. I’m a writer without a Pulitzer and thus calling me a whore I accept with grace and wordy prose. Acceptance and admission is one step in to moving on and recovering from Bolditalicism.
I found out that rage was another step along the path to recover from Bolditalicism as Nicole’s main ability in running this money-burning carnival was to “borrow” ideas from other authors (probably checking that dead Yahoo address from time to time) and so shortly after I left San Francisco to start anew in Spain I found that whilst you can leave San Francisco, much like malaria, The Bold Italic doesn’t leave you. A new article appeared called Moving to San Francisco which was much less funny take on my Guide to San Francisco neighborhoods. This was a common practice of Nicole and I leave it to others in our circle of Bolditalics (you may be silent, but I know who you are) to clear the air if they so wish to do. I believe this became their most viewed article, spawned a sequel, as well as their postcards and was often re-featured on their home page as one of this most singular triumphs of unoriginal content.
This must have not gone unnoticed as while Gannett was desperate to grab foothold in a market that had historically made no money (I co-founded The Tender and saw nary a cent from doing so) they weren’t as stupid as they seemed and apparently let Ms. Grant go, although details of this were never aired. The tone of the entire entity seemed to change greatly with the installation of Laura Ramos at the helm. The publication was nearly readable in that I could “hate read” it from time to time from Spain to see what it was up to. Such is the way of a recovering Bolditalic.
All of us who wrote there knew it wasn’t going to last although I still have pride in my Workin’ for the Man article despite it shortly fading to digital oblivion. Few of us who wrote there liked each other and we flashed fake smiles when meeting up that would give the English a run for their money in the pretending to like people in public department. The fact that Gannett tried to get five million by selling it off was rich, but richer was the fact that no one wanted that stink bug as anyone with a clue realized you could create a money losing website like that in about month and without the benefit of the focus groups that Ideo did. Step One: Create a website about San Francisco. Step Two: Have all articles be about San Francisco or how stupid Oakland is. Step Three: Pay people to write about said topics who have just moved to San Francisco.
We shall all now say a silent prayer (although you’re free to tweet it if you wish as no one reads Twitter anyways) and bid ourselves free of The Bold Italic although we all must remember that at one point in our lives we were Bolditalics and once a Bolditalic, always a Bolditalic. Just be strong where you write in the future and remember to never yield title or content changes to someone who can’t explain why it’s better, only that it is because she thought of it. As for the general public, I think the following comment from SFist sums up the sentiment the best:
One less place to troll.