Type of site
|Alexa rank||769 (January 2015[update])|
|Registration||Optional (required for comments/posting)|
|Launched||31 March 2005|
SB Nation (Sports Blog Nation) is a sports news website owned and operated by Vox Media (formerly SportsBlogs, Inc.). Established in 2005, the site comprises 320 blogs covering individual professional and college sports teams, and other sports-oriented topics. The site operates from Vox’s offices just off Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, as well as Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.
The concept of SB Nation was rooted in Athletics Nation, a blog focused on the Oakland Athletics, which was founded in 2003 by Tyler Bleszinski. Bleszinski noted that at the time, blogs focused on sports were a new concept limited to "mostly baseball sites on Typepad and Blogger", and that he was displeased over how the Athletics were being covered by these sites. In the spirit of Athletics general manager Billy Beane, he decided to build his own blog with an aggressive focus on the team. Athletics Nation soon became the second-largest site on the advertising network Blogads behind the political blog Daily Kos. Its author, Markos Moulitsas, was also a friend of Bleszinski; in 2005, Bleszinski partnered with him to form SB Nation, which would serve as a network of sports blogs with a common platform enabling community participation. Athletics Nation began hiring additional part-time writers, while the SB Nation network would absorb and acquire other sports blogs focusing on major league and college teams.
In 2008, Jim Bankoff, a former AOL executive, joined as CEO to expand SB Nation. Comparing it to his previous company's focus on publishing content in specific verticals, Bankoff wanted to build a topic-based sports media company, explaining that "when you go to Google you don't type in 'sports', you search for a specific team or a player. As media consumers, we're not sports fans, but we're fans of a given team. That's our philosophy here, and our tagline fits it well when it says pro quality—in reference to the type of content and commentary, and fan perspective—as we speak from a fan voice, which can mean we're sometimes very critical."
In 2009, SBNation.com was re-launched to serve as a nationally focused portal for the network's sites. As of February 2009, there were about 185 blogs. ComScore, the Reston, Virginia-based tracker of consumer Internet habits, tallied 5.8 million unique visitors to SB Nation websites during the month of November 2010. That 208 percent increase over the 1.9 million unique visitors in November 2009 made SB Nation the fastest growing sports website the company tracked at that time.
As of December 2010, SB Nation had 12 million unique visitors and over 100 million page views monthly. The site also announced plans to expand its scope into international sports by launching blogs focused on English soccer and the Premier League.
In 2011, a number of editors from AOL's blog Engadget, including Joshua Topolsky, left the site to join SB Nation, where they would begin work on launching a new technology website under its ownership known as The Verge, with Topolsky as editor-in-chief. Following the launch of The Verge, SB Nation's parent company was renamed Vox Media.
In November 2011, Vox Media acquired MMA Fighting from AOL; the site was integrated into the SB Nation network. In December 2011 Time, listed SB Nation #1 in Sports, and #15 overall in its "50 Websites That Make the Web Great" list.
In September 2012, SB Nation unveiled a comprehensive redesign of the website codenamed "SB United". The project reconstructed the site with a unified format and design, using a responsive, "magazine-style" presentation with multimedia and "StoryStreams", and new circular logo designs for each one of the site's blogs. The changes came under the direction of Spencer Hall, writer of the college football blog Every Day Should Be Saturday, who was named as the site's first ever editorial director, and stated that he had wanted to "corral some kind of common vision and coordination" between the individual blogs on SB Nation.
On July 18, 2016, Vox Media announced a partnership with GOW Media, under which its Yahoo! Sports Radio network was re-branded as SB Nation Radio on August 1, 2016. SB Nation and its blogs will contribute on-air personalities and co-develop new content for the network.
In February 2016, the site published a lengthy profile of Daniel Holtzclaw, a former police officer convicted of multiple accounts of rape and other charges, focusing on his college football career. The piece, which was seen as sympathetic to Holtzclaw, was heavily criticized and was taken down within hours of publication. SB Nation's editorial director Spencer Hall apologized for "a complete breakdown" of SB Nation's editorial process, and described the story and its publication as a "complete failure" of site standards. SB Nation subsequently cut ties with the story's author, freelance journalist Jeff Arnold, and put its longform program on hiatus pending a peer review of the editorial process that led to the Holtzclaw piece being published. The head of the longform program, veteran sportswriter Glenn Stout, was suspended and later fired.
In May 2016, Vox Media published the results of the peer review. It found that the longform program was isolated from the rest of SB Nation in a way that made it impossible for stories to be properly vetted. It also harshly criticized SB Nation for not giving individual editors the authority to review stories about sensitive topics. At the time, sensitive stories were reviewed by the newsroom's two most senior women, senior editor Elena Bergeron and senior content producer Sarah Kogod. The reviewers found that this practice made it appear that an individual editor did not have the responsibility to "care to the fullest extent about matters of ethics, integrity, and accuracy." It also raised concerns about the lack of diversity in the newsroom. Based on the review, SB Nation permanently shelved the longform program, and also announced it would take steps to diversify its newsroom. In a statement, SB Nation said that the Holtzclaw fiasco revealed that "an organization cannot afford to wait to be diverse, particularly if that organization is one that wants to tell stories."
In March 2017, SB Nation appointed its first-ever editor-in-chief, Elena Bergeron. She aimed for the website to increase its full-time staffing and focus on native video for social networks such as Facebook, as part of an effort to continue the site's growth. On May 1, 2017, SB Nation unveiled a new logo and refreshed site layout.
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