It seems like just a few days ago I was exchanging snippy texts with Craig Lord, the man behind Swimvortex and the sport's most prolific journalist. in fact it was, and then, in a poof, Swimvortex as no more, with Lord announcing that they would no longer be covering the sport of Swimming.
The sudden departure left many scratching their heads. Several contacted me, hoping I would be able to elucidate what had happened to the man that I once called Swimming's one true journalist. That was during a period where Lord and I became downright friendly, culminating with a two part podcast where, try as I might, I couldn't manage to start a fight like the ones we've had in writing over the years.
The last two months have strained that friendliness, as the gaps between my agenda and Lord's agenda have diverged. Lord would probably scoff at the suggestion that he had an agenda, and I mean him no insult in suggesting it. Everyone who is writing anything right now has an agenda, and biases.
I try to keep my writing honest by acknowledging mine. I am absolutely biased towards survivors of sexual abuse in swimming, and my default position is to believe their accusations. I do this because I am playing the odds: false accusations are like lightning strikes. Maybe I will get struck by lightning, but probably not.
I am absolutely biased against many of the powers that be in the administrative and coaching side of swimming. John Leonard, despite whatever he wants to tell himself, has taken many actions that stymy progress in the culture change our sport desperately needs. I would love to see him go away as a powerful player in our sport.
I would love to see the status quo change. I am absolutely biased about this. I am not a journalist as I have stated innumerable times. I advocate for the side I think is right.
And I think that's actually really important. Journalists who attempt to be "fair and balanced" inevitably give far more weight to the status quo.
For Lord's sake, especially since most of his writing has an editorial bent, I always would've liked to see him acknowledge his own bias. That he had come to see John Leonard as a friend, and a powerful ally in the agenda he had against FINA. If he had acknowledged that I would have at least been more understanding of his positive coverage of Leonard.
Having said all that, I'm actually quite sad. Even when Lord wrote something that made my eyes bleed I was glad he was there. We could fight online and to the casual observer it would seem quite nasty, but every time I actually spoke with the man on the phone or in person I found him exceedingly nice, polite and reasoned.
Lord's departure leaves a gaping hole, with clearly no one to fill it. Its sudden and unexpected nature leaves many of us grasping for answers. It seems we may never get them, but I'll hold out hope that it's not over forever.