We at SLC Dunk along with many other SB Nation NBA sites are standing alongside the California Independent contractors affected by SB Nation’s decision. It’s a tough pill for us to swallow here at SLC Dunk as many of us have friends who suddenly found themselves without a gig, or, like Diana who writes here, found themselves confused on what they were allowed to do with SB Nation in general.
We didn’t have any warning at SLC Dunk. We found ourselves answering questions from friends and family wondering if we were next. Honestly, we didn’t have an answer. We still don’t have an answer. While this affects everyone in California, we find ourselves concerned that at some unknown time in the future we will awake to news via tweet that our time has ended.
We believe in our community here at SLC Dunk. We believe that a fan driven experience is what keeps our communities vibrant, healthy, and—here at SLC Dunk—salty. I, myself, have been writing with SB Nation for almost a decade. To know that my efforts and the efforts of those who have written, contributed, and editorialized at this site could be thrown away in the blink of an eye without our input, collaboration, or the slightest bit of consent is demoralizing.
We know that as a contractor we’re not getting paid according to the amount that our words are worth. FAR FROM IT. We know that. We knew that when we signed up, but it was WORTH it because of how much we love this community and the team we cover in the Utah Jazz. The decision to even voice this frustration has been one the SLC Dunk team and myself immediately came to an agreement on shortly after the news of California writers.
We feel the fan voice of this site is incredibly important in a small market like Utah. We know we don’t have press credentials nor have our requests accepted by Jazz officials. We don’t have that type of access. But by virtue of that, we never feel our writing has the consequence of lost access or that our opinions are stifled by the subconscious threat of being locked out of a locker room. Can’t be kicked out of a club that you never gained a pass in.
That’s why I feel that if this site was pushed to a model where someone who safeguarded its future at a managerial level was also covering other NBA sites or major sports sites, it would lose its punch and efficacy. We already know that our small market team gets easily overlooked by virtue of fan size, odd location, and just disinterest. We can easily see the future result if such a proposition was made. Without a fan voice, this site just becomes basic, sterile, and loses our “Reckless Bogger” identity.
We here at this blog record our podcasts right after we put our kids to bed after we’ve worked a 9-5 at our full-time jobs. We write Downbeats at lunch time, late in evenings, or by waking up early before work. We moderate comment sections throughout the day whenever we have a moment. We cover Preseason games, all regular season games, postseason games in addition to logging extra time during the NBA Trade Deadline, NBA Draft, and NBA Free Agency. We try our best to cover the Salt Lake City Stars. We cover games with our social media channels. We do this while trying to be good friends, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, employees, bosses, and peers. If a Venn-Diagram was made of our work-life balance it’d just be one multicolored circle. Everything blends in between.
But we do it because we absolutely love it. We do it because of you our community and because of our passion as fans first and always. It’s painful to know that an organization that built their name on a fan voice could be so dispassionate toward the fans that built their platform.
That is why we stand with the California bloggers. Because the next time sweeping changes are made, those affected individuals might just be us.
SB NATION NBA BLOGGERS’ STATEMENT REGARDING RECENTLY ANNOUNCED CHANGES FOR CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS:
We are the bloggers. SB Nation calls us “Community Insiders.” Deadspin has referred to us as an “Army of Exploited Workers.” We call ourselves fans.
For almost 15 years, team site bloggers have been the passionate heartbeat of SB Nation. That heart skipped a beat when most of us learned along with the general public that Vox Media/SB Nation planned to terminate their independent contractor agreements with bloggers who live in California or work for California-based team sites.
These are our friends, colleagues, and peers. We are heartbroken that many of them will not be able to continue doing something they love because of this decision. While we acknowledge SB Nation was forced to make changes due to the recent passage of AB5 in California, which defines and limits the nature of independent contractor arrangements, we are deeply disappointed in how they chose to move forward and how they chose to announce these decisions.
These hard-working bloggers were not informed of their imminent termination prior to SB Nation’s public announcement on Monday, December 16. This, despite numerous efforts by SB Nation bloggers to discuss a path forward months ago when AB5 was passed. That is shameful. We should have been told of the planned changes months ago, ahead of the general public, and given a voice in how to best help our communities with these transitions.
We have built SB Nation through a late night recap after a game that goes into 2OT on the West Coast, by interacting with our fans through social media, comments, and watch parties, and by providing amazing journalism well above our pay grade. We are also your friends at work in the cubicle next to you reporting on breaking news on our lunch break, your classmate cramming for the test while also moderating a comment section, and the fan sitting next to you in the nosebleeds while providing in game updates.
We also build and curate communities which serve as vital online “homes” for so many sports fans. Our network not only stands to lose an immense amount of talented writers, creators, and managers, but vast reservoirs of institutional knowledge and the trust of our community members that can’t be replaced with just any employee. All of that work for limited compensation has generated huge value for SB Nation and its parent, Vox Media.
And make no mistake, there are alternatives. SB Nation could have offered full or part time employment to their current California site managers, while maintaining the independent contractor model for contributors on a lesser scale. The law permits this, but SB Nation decided, without consultation, to instead terminate all independent contractor contracts and with that, so many fantastic team sites with their own voice and loyal followings.
California bloggers and team brands deserve a lot more than a pat on the head and the opportunity to battle it out for a handful of jobs. The rest of us deserve the assurance that we won’t be the next ones to learn from a tweet that our contracts have been terminated.
We call on SB Nation to open an honest dialogue with us and our communities about these changes, and to give us a greater voice in any future decisions affecting the heart of our work and communities. We deserve at least that, and frankly we deserve a lot more.