FWAA VP Fortuna explains decision to go all in on The All-American

By Matt Fortuna of The All-American

FWAA Second Vice President

I had just gotten back from a Cape Cod getaway in July when my phone rang.

It was Stewart Mandel. You fellow college football writers may have heard of him.

He asked me if I had ever read The Athletic. In fact, I was already a Chicago site subscriber.

You can imagine, then, how his pitch to me about The Athletic’s college football vertical, The All-American, ended up going:

Short and sweet. As in, barely even necessary. 

I was all in. Allow me tell you why.

Like so many in this business — and especially on the college football beat — Stew and I had seen our jobs eliminated from our respective companies within the past year. Though I had been making a decent go of it as a freelancer, I, like many, wondered where all this was possibly leading.

Writing about sports was still the dream, yes, but what was the end game when it came to employment? So many reporters I looked up to had been cast aside as companies “pivoted to video” or prioritized sensationalism over substance.

The more I stepped back to canvass the landscape, the harder it was to find a place doing anything sustainable that I truly wanted to be a part of. So the day I got back from that vacation, I began to bargain with myself: Should I just get through this upcoming season by writing as much as absolutely possible, for as many outlets as possible, since there’s a decent chance that this might be it for me, at least as a full-time venture?

I had already inquired about multiple different paths (teaching, coaching, P.R.) with multiple different schools (grammar, high school), all in the hopes of giving myself a potential safety net should this broken model of journalism continue down its troubling path.

And then, in a poetic bit of timing, Stew called, telling me one of my favorite local sites’ plans for expanding its reach nationally. His pitch to me then is now my pitch to you, the readers and fellow writers wondering why you should pay to read about college football:

  • This subscription model allows us to devote all of our time and energy to strong written content. 
  • There are no ads. There are no auto-play videos. There is no clickbait. Our co-founders, Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather, have made this as clean and as easy of a reading experience as anyone could imagine, eliminating the stresses that come from the various gimmicks out there that slow your computer or phone.
  • Last, but not least: The Team, The Team, The Team. We brought aboard a pair of my former ESPN.com colleagues in Chantel Jennings and Max Olson. We landed Nicole Auerbach from USA Today and Chris Vannini from CoachingSearch.com. Oh, we also added the reigning Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year, Jason Kersey, from SECCountry.com. And, in addition to Stew, we have managing editor Dan Uthman running the operation, something he did magnificently before at USA Today.

The best part of all of this? It’s almost time to launch. We go live this Monday, Aug. 28. Subscriptions to The Athletic will start at less than $5 a month and afford you access to not just our site but Ken Rosenthal for baseball, Seth Davis for college basketball and numerous local markets.

That means for a cup of coffee a month, you’ll get daily coverage from an eight-member, deep-sourced team spread across every region of the country. We’ve all been traveling the nation during camp to make sure you have quality content to read from Day 1. In those travels, we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive responses from coaches, SIDs and fans everywhere excited for this thing to take off.

We hope that they, and you, take the pledge and subscribe to The All-American.

It’s a much different kind of bargain — one that is too good to pass up.