It's quite a responsibility to carry around hundreds of tantalizing tidbits of information and rumors that involve other people's livelihoods and property values, but the founder and sole blogger behind WhatNowAtlanta.com believes he bears that burden with the appropriate sense of duty. Caleb Spivak also grasps the fundamental lure of journalism: knowing stuff before anyone else.
For many curious Atlantans (including us here at CL), the easiest way to find out what stores, bars, restaurants, and attractions are opening or closing is to check out the latest from WNA or its competitor blog, Tomorrow's News Today — with which Spivak also worked before launching his own site two years ago. For instance, Spivak was the first to give the city the news that Phipps Plaza would become home to a planned Legoland Discovery Center.
You can't make that up. Instead, you need to sort through reams of building permit and liquor license applications; surf job sites for telltale help-wanted ads; and spend hours a week trolling for scuttlebutt.
"I'm never home," boasts the 22-year-old sometime-GSU-marketing undergrad. "I go to every event in the city. I'm a networking freak. I work every possible angle until I confirm something."
Predictably, the worst part of the job is contacting entrepreneurs whose shop or restaurant is about to close.
"I've got to call people who've mortgaged their home to start a business that's now failing," he says. "Often, their own employees don't yet know they'll be out of a job."
So, how cushy a living does Spivak earn from his website? Are you kidding? Like most local bloggers, he scarcely makes a dime off his efforts, holding down two other jobs to bankroll what is now a time-consuming hobby. But that could soon change.
Spivak says he's been approached by investors who want to turn WNA into a subscription-based online newsletter aimed at providing leads for real estate professionals. The funding would allow him to focus entirely on digging up more gossip and to hire a small staff to assist with research. If the business model is a success, he'd eventually like to start up similar sites in other cities.
Whatever happens, Spivak says, he plans to keep a free version of WNA online for casual readers. If it's there, you can bet we'll be reading.