When we first conceived of The Other Half, we had some specific goals in mind. The first of those, the very heart of what we wanted to do, was set down in our Mission Statement.
The Other Half is a sports commentary and lifestyle website for women, by women. From insightful journalism on all the sports they care about, to coverage of the peripheral parts of being a fan–pop culture, gear, travel, etc.– we are dedicated to creating a safe space for female, gender nonconformist, and otherwise underserved voices in the sports community.
The culture that we wanted to build for our team was the first thing on our minds. We wanted to make sure that everyone who generously donated their time to our project felt welcome. That they felt safe.
Wanted. Needed. Vital. Appreciated.
That’s where we started. Our very first all-hands meeting was about establishing those things. Getting everyone into a spreadsheet so we could all find each other, contact each other, and start to build bonds.
Our culture is one of support, encouragement, trust, sharing, and a LOT of laughing.
Giving people jobs, roles, and titles came later in the process than you might think. Eliza had been the one to call out on twitter “would anyone be interested in building a site that’s for women!?” On the heels of the Rice mess the NFL created, new domestic violence charges in the NHL, beat writers in hockey getting fired (and rightfully so) for being wholly inappropriate with women who were trying to engage with them in a professional capacity… it had been a particularly rough period in sports journalism if you weren’t part of the target (straight male) demographic.
We were weary.
And more than two dozen of us answered her call.
It seemed to me that if we were going to do this, if we were going to do it well and strong and lasting, we needed to start as if we meant it. That required some actual jobs, some real titles, and someone to take the wheel. Eliza was the obvious choice to step into the role of Editor in Chief.
We’re a little place right now, but we have big ambitions.
I started plugging people into new worksheets in our personnel log and giving them titles based on what they said they wanted to do. I signed myself on as Managing Editor and off we went.
Begin as you mean to go on.
This is what I have always wanted to do. And it’s worked out pretty great so far.
Eliza and I fell into an easy camaraderie despite having only known each other for a short time, (through a mutual friend who lives in California. I love the internet.) We found very quickly that we have a shared voice when it comes to running TOH and a similar dedication to making sure we’re on the same page before we go to our team. But we also have our own unique voices: Eliza is upbeat and encouraging and exceptional at being the Voice of the Business, I found my own voice mostly by dint of the tasks I took on back in the very beginning.
We hold our staff meetings by chat out of necessity: our team is spread across the globe. Janice, one of our Associate Editors, is always attending our meetings tomorrow, which is pretty amazing if you really take the time to think about it. Not everyone can be at every meeting, and even those who were might not have caught everything in the fast and furious flurry of conversation. Text record of every meeting is amazing to have–no one has to worry about faulty records–and I gladly took on the job of writing up the meeting notes to send out: a condensed version of the meeting.
I have to be honest, it’s an excruciatingly boring job. The first meeting was two…three? It might have been three – hours long. When you paste that conversation into a Google Doc to edit it’s 100+ pages long.
In order to keep myself summarizing instead of falling asleep I started adding little asides. I took the time to pull in the little jokes we made. I added line items like here we paused for ten minutes because the Blackhawks were doing some crazy things and we all had to scream for various reasons.
It was a voice I was immediately happy with. I’m the one who sends the memos that say, “Hi, I’m made of fail. Meeting notes are a week late. I know, I’m fired.”
(It doesn’t help that the day we started on this journey was the day after American Thanksgiving, and I had woken up with a cold so bad it would strip me of my voice immediately and for many days after, and didn’t release its hold for three weeks. Thereafter I had a few days to start to feel myself again and immediately caught another. It’s been three months now, and I’ve been sick more than I’ve been well, and it’s absolutely affected the progress of our site build. And the amount of exhaustion and cold medicine I have been working under made it virtually impossible for me to be serious at some points, even if I probably should have been. But our team is amazing, and they have stuck with me and been patient with me. At the end of the day it went a long way to making sure that when our amazing writers ran into problems of their own, they knew with absolute certainty they could come to us to say, “I am behind,” and we were not going to judge.)
I’m rambling, which is mostly the whole point of my first personal addition to The Other Half. This is my voice, this is who I am.
And I sign a lot of things #The Managing Editor, and #TME.
It’s an ironic signature. Because it’s a pretty important job title, but I always attach it to the sillier things I do.
When we first put the site up it was a blank slate and we had to start pulling together the layout. Widgets in WordPress are varied and awesome, but you have no idea what it’s going to look like unless you have content to test it on. So I started making posts. I used Pirate Lorum Ipsum and attached pictures of shirtless hockey players. Lots of shirtless hockey players. As time went on and I added more content to work with it became hilariously obvious I had stumbled headlong into a desperate love affair with The Hobbit and Thorin Oakenshield (and the magnificent Richard Armitage).
Then, when I put up the tumblr and had to start adding content to that, it was entirely pulled off of my dashboard which sports-wise is entirely hockey, with a heavy emphasis on Sidney Crosby. I always knew the Dwarrows were coming off the website for launch, but the tumblr was being pre-loaded – we wanted to make sure we had enough backread available when we launched for people to get a feeling for who we are. So, I started tagging my overload of Crosby reblogs with things like #sorry not sorry #Managing Editor Has A Crush #here #have some more Sidney #because the managing editor will never get tired of his face.
I wanted to make sure that the voice of The Other Half stood on its own merits, and the necessity of my being the one front-loading all that early content wasn’t coloring it entirely. Over the last three months, it’s become more and more important to me to carve out that space. There’s the TOH voice, and then there’s our unique voices; and as we go forward, as our team members start to carve out their own spaces and add their voices to our social media, it’s my hope that we can build a quirky and interesting choir whose mutual passion for sports sings clear.
So you’ll see tweets that are wry commentary that will carry my #TME tag, and you’ll see reblogs that say #not sports #The Managing Editor #needed puppies today – because if nothing else, we never want to lose sight of our mission, and we never want to take ourselves too seriously.
Safe and fun and happy and educational and all the best things about girl power. That’s us.
Sometimes you’ll see something that’s actually serious; a site notation, a social commentary about a breaking story. Those things will always be signed in the professional manner.
Sasha Davis, Managing Editor.
But if there’s a hashtag you can take it as rote that I’m being irreverent, and I’m being silly, that I’m speaking with my voice not The Other Half’s voice. I’m speaking for me not for the team.
I hope you’ll find your voice here with us. I hope you’ll carve out your own space.
Half of all sports fans are women. Welcome to Our Half of the media.
Sasha, Managing Editor and ;) #TME
#Love what you love out loud. <3