Canzano: Working for you... works for me
Celebrating one year of JohnCanzano.com.
It’s been a year since the launch of this independent writing endeavor. Last March, for the first time in my professional career the credential dangling around my neck didn’t feature the name of a newspaper.
It read: “JohnCanzano.com.”
I went to work for you.
My wife and I talked last week about that first day on the job. That first game column was filed from Las Vegas during the Pac-12 Conference Tournament. I wrote, posted the piece, then met Anna at the hotel. On the elevator ride to the casino floor she said, “This isn’t just going to be good, it’s going to be great.”
From the start, I promised to deliver in-depth, sourced reporting and commentary that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve had a blast doing it. There’s a lot of noise in the media landscape. I’m interested in cutting through it, finding facts, talking with key sources, and telling you what’s really going on.
Still, that first day last March I wondered how many would read. Would you “get” what I was trying to do? Better yet, would you get behind it? As we walked across the casino floor, we passed the sports book. I looked down at my phone and saw an email notification announcing the first subscription.
Hundreds of early adopters don’t know it, but they left me standing in the middle of the casino staring at my phone through a pair of glassy eyes.
Subscribers aren’t just reading. I have a wife and three daughters — one of them in college. You’re helping support my family. Anyone who has gone on their own, started a business, and become an entrepreneur understands it takes a leap of faith.
This publication has been the greatest, most joyful, adventure of my writing career. During the last year, I broke news, told fun stories, relentlessly pursued the truth and covered the saga of the Pac-12 Conference. With your support, I traveled across the country to chase great stories and hired a team of terrific photographers.
I wrote a heartwarming piece about the nurse who saved a man’s life at a college football game and another about a parking-garage attendant who left us with an important life lesson. I also gave an update on the tragic and inspiring tale of the Taylor family.
Some JohnCanzano.com facts:
The publication featured 370 posts in the first year, more than one per day.
It had more than 4 million visits and was ranked as one of the top-three most popular sports-related publications on Substack.
The publication won two Associated Press Sports Editors awards, one in explanatory writing and the other for beat coverage of the Pac-12 Conference.
In the last year, I wrote columns about the impact of fathers, my own mother’s journey, and the courage of my mother-in-law. When Bill Walton wanted to go public with a manifesto expressing his disappointment with UCLA’s departure to the Big Ten, we published it here. And when Mike Leach died suddenly in December, I wrote a sobering column about the fragility of life.
Leach was particularly supportive of this independent endeavor. When he heard I was leaving the newspaper to go out on my own the Mississippi State coach sent an encouraging text.
It read: “You unfiltered will be outstanding!”
Part of what I love about this new endeavor is the direct connection I have with readers. Subscribers receive my columns in real time, delivered directly to their email in-box. If they hit reply, I get a note back. And the comment section of the columns features intelligent discourse and debate.
What I’m saying is — thank you.
For reading. For subscribing. For donating paid subscriptions to those on fixed budgets. For allowing me to chase the stories you find important and write in-depth about the people and topics you’re interested in.
Last week, when I was in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament, I bumped into Walton at the arena. He was there to call the UCLA-Arizona title game. He waved me over and launched into a diatribe.
“You are relentless,” Walton said. “It’s outstanding to read you these days. Keep it up. Do not stop.”
I work for you now.
I can’t wait to see what this second year brings us.
I appreciate all who read, support, subscribe and share this new, independent, endeavor with friends and families. If you’re not already a “paid” subscriber, please consider a subscription or a gift subscription or a donated subscription for someone else:
John, just a few reasons I’m a loyal subscriber, dedicated reader, occasional commenter:
-Although your focus is the Pac12, you don’t stop there. I’ve been frustrated by other writers’ singular focus on the conference (less so now that I understand the business model behind it), but you drive in an adjacent lane. And it works.
-The reader discourse here is uncommonly civil and reasonably well informed—esp compared to other content sites that allow reader input. I think that’s a reflection of YOU as much as us.
-You obviously read what we share, and that inspires me to be thoughtful and rational when I do comment. (As opposed to “yelling” in hopes that someone notices.) I wonder if that is true of others.
-You are human. We know more about you because you share more about yourself than the typical writer. Others may just not want to be open about their personal lives. And that’s perfectly fine. But transparency is part of your secret sauce.
-And, finally, you seem to be simply a nice guy. Tough, inquisitive journalist, yes. (Not all people in college sports appreciate or value that—including some thin-skinned AD’s and presidents.) But a good person. Your post celebrating the end of your launch year affirms that. Congratulations.
It's why I subscribe. Unvarnished, Unapologetic, Unrivaled