In Which I Speak about the Death of my First Post-College Job
Creepy Shit in my Elevator

A Long Rambling Post about the "Going Dark" of Nashville is Talking

There was once a blogger meet-up in Nashville in early 2005. I had never been to a blogger meet-up before in my life, even though I had been blogging for around six years. It was at Jackson's in Hillsboro Village. I remember sitting in my car, in the driver's seat in the parking lot of Jackson's, scared to death to get out. Strangers were in there. Strangers scared me. But I somehow managed to pop the handle, squeeze out of the car and walk inside.

Once my legs managed to make their way to the event, things were fine. Relaxed. I chatted with people I'd read before, and nibbled nachos and drank vodka tonics.

The event was hosted by WKRN, the ABC affiliate station. They bought those nachos.

Blake & Tim

I stood around talking to Tim Morgan and the Saucy Librarian when a suit from WKRN handed me his card. He seemed very, very interested in what I wrote about in a way that was different from everyone else. When we finished our chat and he told me to call him I assumed he was hitting on me. I stuck his card in my purse, and forgot about it.

The Saucy Librarian blogger wrote me not long later to say that WKRN has asked her if she was interested in blogging for the station. Since she liked her Saucy Librarian job she wasn't, but she suggested that I might like to. I was waiting tables and freelancing and looking for full-time work. I remember the TV man who handed me his card, and winced. He wasn't hitting on me...he was recruiting.

Mike & Kerry

The next thing I knew I was in Mike Sechrist's office on Murfreesboro Road talking about how I "had my finger on the pulse of the internet" (oh my god) and how I didn't think the web was for making money. Hahaha. I'm surprised he didn't show me out right then, but instead he smiled, nodded and said, "Well, we're going to try to make some money."

I don't think we ever did. Nashville is Talking, the website I was hired to write after that meet-up at Jackson's, never did pay for itself to my knowledge. In fact, some would say that WKRN cost themselves a whole lot in terms of risk by running Nashville is Talking at all.

Day 36: Project 365

Why is that? Well, because while I had a journalism degree and published clips, I had never worked in a newsroom in my life. And Sechrist gave me free reign. I was allowed to use first person, be loudly opinionated and to stir shit up. Countless phone calls and letters and emails streamed into the station in the time that I was there, many of them calling for me to be fired. One person repeatedly came to the station seeking my termination.

The journalists who had spent years trying in earnest to remain neutral and without opinion were kind to me. They were obviously shocked, and many you could tell disagreed with much of what I wrote, but they were nice. That doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of overheard whispers, and to tell you the truth, I felt very isolated in that job, because while I had co-workers, I didn't have any colleagues to speak of.

Day 2: Project365

It was exhilarating doing something so new and "cutting edge." I was happier than a pig in shit to be reading all day long the profound essays from locals that regularly made me cackle with glee or tear up in sympathy. I loved blogging, and then I got to get paid to do it. I think I let some of that go to my head, and I was more arrogant than I should have been.

Before the WKRN job I had no idea that Tennessee was so filled to the top with political blogs. Holy crap, is that state opinionated about politics. Suddenly I was reading right-wing blogs with some really extremist views, but I think I can safely say those people thought my views (not everyone at Gitmo is a guilty terrorist, pro-choice, etc.) were just as out there and abhorent. Suddenly I was communicating with conservative bloggers who weren't just guys with strong views, but some that were entrenched in the GOP. I had never blogged about politics prior to the NiT gig, and it showed. I was divisive in what I linked to, dismissive in my commentary and unwilling to change my mind very often. It was a product of being young and green and too often driven by emotion. But it brought the readers in in droves.

Shauna & Pea

Turns out people liked the combat, to some extent. Controversy and adversarial comments make for great reading. Who knew? Well, I did. But there were costs associated with it, too.

I remember spending one Christmas unable to breathe because of threats to my job that came after a post had displeased some people. I remember being called fat. And stupid. And in bed with terrorists. Every time there was a new comment, I would hold my breath. Some of them got really vicious. But, I brought many of them on myself.

But when it wasn't awful, it was wonderful. I remember discovering Aunt B's blog, and I nearly passed out from the awesomeness. Then Kleinheider made me consider conservatism in a whole new way, with found facts and quotes from rappers making his stuff compelling and unique. I hesitate to start naming the bloggers who awed and inspired me, because they are too numerous to remember them all.

group shot 3

It was always about the bloggers. They were the reason why Nashville is Talking got the buzz that it did. Sure, Sechrist and Terry Heaton were ahead of the game in coming up with the NiT concept, but it is because they knew that there was so much talent around us going untapped that they were fools to ignore it. Astute observations, neighborhood reporting, hilarious essays, gripping tales of parenthood--it was a tapestry of all kinds of writing, but all of it came from one location. There was power in that. There were suddenly sparks being made and connections being forged that exist to this day, stronger than they have ever been.

rex & a.c.

I don't know how to talk about the end of NiT without talking about it from my perspective. I could do some bullet point post about how I think NiT changed the landscape of media in Nashville or round up links to all the coverage on Editor & Publisher or make grand proclamations about what is to come, but I think that is best left to the Social Media Gurus. For me it was a daily enterprise, an uncharted path that took some serious blazing, resulting in many cuts and bruises as I hacked away as best I could. I didn't know what I was doing--only a little--but Sechrist trusted my voice and the voice of the people in Nashville, and that hands-off approach birthed something strange and beautiful. And temporary, it turns out.

I didn't write Nashville is Talking from an arm's length away. I cared about these people's children's broken bones. I cried when their mothers died. I giggled along with their stories every morning and screamed at the monitor when I disagreed. I was into Nashville is Talking as deep as you could be in it. And maybe that was why the end of my tenure there ended in such a terrible way.

Megan Made Me A Painting

The comments mattered. The slings and arrows didn't bounce off, they were buried deep, and they added up to too much in the end. Perhaps had I kept my distance it would have ended for me differently, but I don't think the fire of NiT would have been stoked had I done that. And besides, I did it the only way I knew how.

I will always think of my opportunity to run Nashville as Talking as a little miracle in my life. It changed the course of it, for sure. I am now in a city I would have never lived in had I not taken that job. I wouldn't know half the people I do. I wouldn't have this special experience under my belt that changed things and people, more important than any headline it might have generated.

Jon, Kat and Kay

I am passionate about publishing on the web. News is secondary. To me, the magic lies in the ability of any person who can find access to a computer to have the opportunity to be heard like never before. That still blows my mind. And to be able to work to highlight and promote those people? I am a lucky girl.

I write this today, because Nashville is Talking is going dark. The current GM at WKRN, who is not Mike Sechrist, calls the site a "quaint reminder." Maybe for many people that is what it is.

For me it was a life changer.

Others on Nashville is Talking's finale:

random mublings - On Friday, the Talk stops

for lack of a better word - RIP NiT.

Pith in the Wind - Nashville Is Talking No Longer

Cup of Joe Powell - Farewell, Nashville Is Talking

Terry Heaton - “Nashville is Talking” to close

Newscoma - Nashville Is Talking R.I.P.

Comments

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I think for many people it was a life changer because it opened us up to people we wouldn't have come in contact with outside of it. I still remember the coverage you gave to the debacle of reporting the Tennessean did on Lee Camp's speech at Lipscomb's conflict resolution seminar, as well as the little pieces I did about my family and my faith. Thanks for the work you did there and I'm glad it worked out well for you.

really great post.

Wow, I can't believe Nashville is Talking is coming to an end. Frankly, I hadn't thought about the site in a couple of years. But back in 2007, I applied for a "web personality" gig on journalismjobs.com with WNCN in Raleigh, NC. Turns out they wanted to start their own version of the Nashville is Talking. I got the gig and was charged with forming it from scratch and was soon joined by co-founder Wayne Sutton. We loosely used Nashville is Talking as a model. That's how I found you. I read Sparkwood & 21 from afar and admired your work so much. You were getting media coverage for your innovation. It was incredible. Shortly after I took the job at WNCN, you moved to San Francisco to work for the CBS affiliate. I thought it was a bold step and I've watched your career from afar. You're an incredible woman, an excellent writer and you allow your followers to feel your feelings. Thanks for this post and the tweet. It reminds me of how far I've come too. As always, I wish you all the best.

My response over at Pith may get canned since, unlike everyone else, I just couldn't bring myself to ignore the troll in the thread further, so I wanted to add what was the much more important part of it here.

Brittney - as for your wondering if the Tennessee bloggers will miss NiT: I've missed it since the day you left and probably always will. There have been long periods when it's been impossible for me to keep up and read blogs daily (or even weekly) as I would have liked - if NiT were as it were back in your day, I'd have never fallen out of the loop or been as disconnected as I mostly am these days. My hat's off to you, and always will be, for what you accomplished during that time.

I'd love nothing better than to see it return somehow as it was - or a reasonable facsimile under someone else as talented at bringing a community together as you did. We may not have all liked each other, but every single blogger was an important part of that community - and no offense to Christian at all, but that's what's been missing ever since.

I have been fortunate to have many friends in life, but thanks to NiT, I met many more that have been good friends for a long time now and will hopefully continue to be lifelong - as well as others I have never met in person but consider peers, colleagues, etc. On two separate occasions last year and during some of the darkest hours of my entire life, a number of old-school NiT bloggers quite literally and unexpectedly came to my rescue and saved me from what was pending & absolute destruction. People I'd have probably never known, if not for you and NiT. I was about to be homeless and was already kinda starving, yet nearly eight months later I still have food in my kitchen that all those kind and generous folks saw to it that I should have, and didn't wind up losing my entire life.

So I thank you, too, for that. You were a part of that too, because you were where it all began. :)

The start of my day and daily routine has never been the same since you departed NiT, but I don't blame you for going and staying out there 'cos it's a fabulous city. I hope it continues to be terrific for you! I know you are missed by many here, but that's a good thing to be missed (tho we certainly won't complain if you ever decide to come back this way again). :)

Great memories there.

The problem I saw with you running it, you let a coven form around you. The news ISN'T secondary; but it must have been a tough transition for you from waitress to journalist. I note with respect your retrospective and wish you the best.

Yeah, despite the best efforts of others who came after you, there was never a sufficient substitute for NiT 1.0. I thought Music City Bloggers came close, but apparently the heat there got too high, too.

Now, there's no awesome local Nashville collective blog experience, and that makes me sad. There probably never will be, again, which is sadder.
.

It was a magical time for all of us. How often in our lives do we have a chance to really create something truly unique. And most people will never appreciate the courage and tenacity it took for a young woman who had never worked a day in a television newsroom to sit surrounded by skeptical "professional" journalists and write a blog. A blog! Half the newsroom didn't know what that was and the other half were taking bets on how long this "stupid idea" would last. Who could have guessed just two years later you would be a regular feature on our newscasts showcasing local bloggers and NiT would generate more than twenty newsroom blogs from anchors and reporters. You were truly the right person in the right place at the right time and what a time it was.

As Mike and others said, you brought a lot of us together. The innovation at the time gave everyone a voice, and set up lasting friendships still going strong to this day. You really were the right person to do this and we are all better for it.

Ahhhh, memories.

I ate ribs and shared that same table with Sechrist.

Hi Mike.

to quote Lynnster:

"as for your wondering if the Tennessee bloggers will miss NiT: I've missed it since the day you left and probably always will. There have been long periods when it's been impossible for me to keep up and read blogs daily (or even weekly) as I would have liked - if NiT were as it were back in your day, I'd have never fallen out of the loop or been as disconnected as I mostly am these days. My hat's off to you, and always will be, for what you accomplished during that time."

yup, that. I haven't read it since you left...it changed and it wasn't a draw to me anymore. NiT did something really valuable for me--it helped me expose myself to and interact with people and viewpoints very, very different from myself and my own. I never got the guts to come to any of the meetups, but I thoroughly enjoyed what you did for the Nashville blogging community way back when...and I miss it. glad it has been such a great launching pad for you.

"I was divisive in what I linked to, dismissive in my commentary and unwilling to change my mind very often. It was a product of being young and green and too often driven by emotion."

But to my mind that's exactly why the site worked so well, because you weren't some agnostic, neutral journalist-who-might-as-well-be-a-computer-program. You gave the place a beautiful soul.

"Quaint reminder" made me sad.

Me, too.

Thank you Brittney.

"I was happier than a pig in shit..."

God I miss you :)

I just moved to town in July 09 but reading all the blogs and comments makes me wish I'd had a chance to see you in action.

Great post Brittney. I wish our paths would have crossed earlier on. It felt like you on the stage at BarCamp one second, then packing your things for SF the next.

Maybe next time you're in town we can all go for drinks.

Cheers,
Dave

Well, I've posted on all the sites I could find regarding NiT's demise, only to finally find Brittney's words...

Let me just say thanks. I think I saw you once at one of those Nashville blogger gatherings, but was probably too socially inept or too drunk to say thanks for actually linking to my blog.

I wish you nothing but the best.

J

I took over NiT for a week or two at some point after you left, and I have absolutely no idea how you did that day in and day out. The childish, negative comments that seemed to come out of left field from the entire community were exhausting, even for that short amount of time. I coud never figure out how grown adults could be so petulant, and it was never "Wow, that's a different opinion than I have, but I can see the point you're trying to make here." but more along the lines of "You're wrong, FUCK YOU!"

Maybe that's not the case in San Francisco, and I truly hope it isn't. So glad things worked out for you for the best!

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