New ChicagoSide scores print partnership with Time Out

Monday marks two important beginnings for Jonathan Eig, the best-selling author, veteran journalist and new media entrepreneur: The official launch of ChicagoSide, his ambitious local sports website, and the announcement of a new partnership with Time Out Chicago.

Eig, who’ll kick off ChicagoSide with a welcoming note to readers, serves as editor-in-chief of the online startup he co-founded with partner and creative director Sol Lieberman. Though some raised doubts last year when Eig said his goal was to create “the best Chicago sports website the city’s ever seen,” he appears to be right on track. In addition to featuring a live score ticker and aggregating links to other sources, the site will showcase unique content each day from a pool of established writers and promising rookies. A regular podcast and series of special events will follow.

“Five days a week from here on out we’ll have original pieces of journalism,” Eig said. Among opening week contributors are Lou Carlozo, the former Chicago Tribune writer, and Paul Shirley, the former Chicago Bull and author of the book Can I Keep My Jersey?. Shirley has agreed to write a monthly column for ChicagoSide.

In conjunction with the launch, ChicagoSide is teaming up with Time Out Chicago. (Disclosure: I work for Time Out Chicago.)

“Starting in May, ChicagoSide will provide Time Out Chicago with a weekly sports column, often penned by Eig himself,” Frank Sennett, editor-in-chief and president of Time Out Chicago, said in a statement. “We're giving readers a preview of the partnership with a feature in our April 5 issue, just in time for Opening Day at Wrigley.”

Said Eig: "This was a slam dunk. The TimeOut Chicago crew understood our mission from the jump and approached us with passion and creativity. We're honored to be able to bring top-notch sports stories to their readers every week. We're also excited to widen the audience for ChicagoSide's outstanding team of writers."

The partnership with Time Out Chicago means Eig no longer will be writing a monthly sports column for Chicago magazine. Beth Fenner, editor-in-chief of Chicago, said the Tribune Co.-owned publication has no plans to discontinue its sports page. “It’s possible we may use several different writers going forward rather than just one,” she told me.

Compensation for ChicagoSide contributors will be based on a co-op model. “We’re offering them a chance to own a piece of the company if they write enough,” Eig said. Revenue will be generated mainly through advertising and sponsorship of special events.

Marta Steele, social media director of ChicagoSide (who said she landed her job after first hearing about the venture here), identified Facebook and Twitter as integral to the goal of engaging fans. “We are using social media to have a real connection and conversation with our readers and fellow sports lovers,” she told Chicago Tonight’s Yasmin Rammohan. “We don’t want social media to be in that one-way, shouting out our content. We want to have conversations, moderate discussions, find and respond to comments on the stories, and build community.”

ChicagoSide will host a launch party April 9 at Haymarket Pub & Brewery, 737 West Randolph.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)