We are making a major editorial shift at FishDuck.com for the first time in our four-and-a half-year history, as we are going to allow negative articles to be published on the site. This is a movement that is certainly out of my comfort zone, as my attitude has always been that there are enough good things to write about concerning our beloved Ducks, and we’ll let the other sites make their bones covering the negative.
Then the 2015 season came along and challenged the validity of that precept.
There were too many things happening on the defensive side of the ball that were too glaring and obvious to ignore. Thus, by turning our head the other direction, we lost some credibility as a site due to our Pollyanna only policy.
“You aren’t telling it as it is, Charles, if you ignore all the negative. You are not giving the reader the full analytical landscape by being focused only on positive aspects occurring.”
When there were severe negative reasons for games lost, the site was hamstrung in not being able to report them.
This site was guilty of publishing negative articles about other schools in the early days of our formation, as we trolled for “clicks.” We changed as we gradually learned about our readers, what they wanted and what we wished to present to the public. Thus we made a significant departure from the “clickbait” for the majority of our history, even using John Canzano as an example of what “not” to do.
Canzano has a track record of writing positive and negative articles about University of Oregon sports, and his negative opinions have often made little sense to readers, other than simply trying to produce click-bait. He has written a number of articles critical of Oregon head basketball coach Dana Altman and refuses to back off his assertions. The articles below are examples:
Every Day Oregon Stands with Dana Altman is another step into the Muck (January 8, 2015)
Canzano: Still not buying Dana Altman as Oregon Ducks Coach (July 21, 2015)
He writes this despite the recruiting miracles performed by Altman’s staff – an 85 percent win percentage at MKA during his tenure and one of the finest six-year runs of Oregon basketball by any coach ever. Altman has won more than 70 percent of his total games at Oregon and is widely respected across the country, and yet for guys like Canzano – that just puts a target on Altman’s back that ultimately brings attention back to the author.
We don’t want to go that far in our occasional negative commentary.
A good example of how we will cover it is the statement recently by principal Steve Summers of eDuck.com, (Scout) a site I’ve been a part of and enjoyed for 19-20 years.
“While we’ve questioned the Oregon coaching staff, we have never called for Mark Helfrich or any other coach (for that matter) to be fired. [Yet] eDuck.com is not the Oregon Rally Squad; we are not trying to ‘get’ the Oregon Athletic Department, but when things are obviously questionable – we’ll ask.”
Amen, Steve - as that is a reasonable way to approach it. I completely agree and will follow your lead.
The key will be in the presentation of the negative; aspects of the team that are not endearing can be offered in the vein of “how we can improve,” “what we need to work on,” or “what us fans need to watch for” in the team that signifies progression in the correct direction. We all know well that you can take the same weakness and beat the team/coaches over the head, or point it out as a learning tool for fans.
I would like to call our entry of new editorials as nuanced negative, where we cover the negative occurring, but do not pull a Canzano in the process. It will never be to draw attention to the site, and the writer will be sincere with his/her feelings about the subject.
Why would I implement this when the football season has passed and the Ducks will most likely will be showing improvement next year?
There were writers who did not fit with the prior philosophy, and I would like to read their thoughts and believe Oregon fans would find them intriguing, as well. I also learned that a number of people will agree with the negative article, and thus it will give them a voice and generate interesting discussion in the comments. If we do it right – going a little negative could be a big positive for the readers of FishDuck.com, as it could continue our tradition of learning and appreciating the superb plays so much more.
Many of you read The Oregonian’s sports articles (OregonLive.com) as they are well-done, yet most Oregon fans condemn the articles there from Canzano on a regular basis. You don’t look at OregonLive as constantly promoting negative about University of Oregon. You simply see the percentage of Canzano articles that are negative, and you credit him as being the negative one, not OregonLive as an entire site.
When FishDuck.com has some nuanced-negatives about our beloved Ducks, I would hope you would cut us the same slack as you do, say, OregonLive.
So what is the deal about FishDuck.com? Are you dormant or alive? Plans?
I announced moving the site off a permanent writing schedule and on to a “dormant” state in December, but some significant things have happened in the background since then. We will be back, but under new management – part of a much bigger entity, and positioned to potentially be much, much bigger than our height before.
(Our last full month of operation had our number of daily visits putting us in the top 1% of the sites in the world among all active sites.)
One huge improvement will be for me to get out of the day-to-day management of the site and focus on writing more editorial and analysis articles, so that as Oregon fans we are fed in our hunger to learn more about our beloved Ducks, and hence enjoy the games that much more.
I also look forward to heavily expanding the new article series of Coach’s Comments, as they can give us so much more perspective than the typical fan’s opinion.
The negative is that we are undergoing massive change, and the new beginning will not be for a few months yet. At worst, we will be a new-look site ready in time for football season, with the probable start-up time sometime this summer.
We are the classic Wood Duck cruising away gently on the surface, but paddling away madly beneath.
— Charles Fischer (Principal), FishDuck.com
Top Photo by John Sperry