Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The official Washington Redskins blogger answers a few questions about the blogging life

Matt Terl runs The Official Washington Redskins Blog. He's been blogging as a paid member of the Redskins staff since the beginning of training camp. He admits he was a part-time blogger (which means he had a real job and enjoyed blogging on the side like most if us) before landing with the Redskins. In another interview (which is definitely worth listening to) about his position with the Redskins, he describes his job as a "fan let loose in Redskins Park." For more about Terl, check out his explanation of what his blog is all about.

Anyway, Terl was kind enough to take part in our "Third and Five" question and answer series. The "Third" part is three questions for Terl. The "And Five" part is five quick personal interest questions about the web. Here goes:

1. When did you start with the Redskins and what's the biggest difference from being an unpaid blogger (who was doing it for the love of the game) and one who is being paid (and now has more time to dedicate to the blog)?
I started with the Redskins on the first day of training camp this year. The differences between doing this on my own and doing it for the team are more or less infinite, but the main one is that it's much different writing about people – players, media, coaches – when you actually see them every day. One of the hardest parts of my first few weeks here was meeting people face-to-face that I'd written about less-than-kindly, and having to own up to things I'd casually written back in the day after a few drinks.

2. What are your plans for this blog -- this season and beyond?
My goal has always been to try to show some things that we fans don't usually get to see. Sometimes these are at least a little glamorous (the Welcome Home Luncheon, or players' cars and houses), other times they're pretty mundane (the equipment room, other behind-the-scenes at Redskins Park kind of things). I pretty much intend to keep doing all those things, only moreso.

I'm doing more with players away from the team's facility – which is going to be a necessity for the offseason, I suspect – and I've been trying to do more with the coaches as well. In many ways, it's the sort of thing that grows itself: the more I'm here, the better I get to know people, and the more possibilities present themselves.

3. I know you have been on the job for only a short time, but any advice for us part-time bloggers (aka guys like you who were working 9 to 5 and blogging as their hobby)?
The only advice I can give from my experience is not to hesitate if an opportunity seems to present itself. The chain of events that got my name in front of the Redskins was a series of longshots, but clearly it paid off in the end. If you're doing good work, people will respond to it; you just have to do everything you can to make sure that they see it.

Terl not only offers his selections, but he provides us with some insight into his answers, which is always greatly appreciated.

1. Favorite football web site?
Football Outsiders. I'm a big fan of people taking new approaches to old statistics, and they're pretty much the gold standard of that in football writing.

2. Favorite non-sports web site?
I'm a food nerd, so probably something in the food category. Maybe chow.com, which has also been useful finding restaurants on the road in the new job.

3. Favorite sports web site?
God help me, I mainly use ESPN.com as my quick check for general sports stuff, just out of years of habit. I think Yahoo Sports does really good work, and I think FOXSports.com is vastly underrated, but I've been looking things up on ESPN for more than a decade now and it's a tough habit to break. Does that count as favorite?

4. Favorite blog?
I've been particularly loving Shutdown Corner at Yahoo Sports lately. MJD has done fantastic stuff wherever he's been, and the addition of Chris Chase (Player Hater's Ball) has only improved an already good blog. Also, Dan Steinberg's DC Sports Blog is as good as a mainstream full-time sports blog could possibly be, and I'd be deeply stupid not to mention it.

5. Old school question (aka not an Internet-related question): Any book you have read recently that you are recommending?

This is one of those paralyzing questions for me, where I immediately forget everything I've read for the last twenty years.

Let's see… sportswise, I loved Stefan Fatsis's A Few Seconds of Panic. His book on Scrabble, Word Freak, is one of my favorite pieces of non-fiction from the last decade.

It's a presidential election year, so I did my quadrennial re-read of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, which remains frighteningly relevant 36 years on.

And as far as fiction goes, I've been struggling to get through Neal Stephenson's Anathem. His Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite books ever, and I have a lot of time for his stuff, but so far this one isn't clicking for me.

Thank you, Matt Terl, for your time. Check out his blog.


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