Yesterday, when my dad asked my brother-in-law if he wanted his copy of the new Sports Illustrated, my brother-in-law said, “Why, is it 1996?”
My brother-in-law’s argument is that blogs and websites have made print magazines out-of-date or unnecessary. Why wait a week or two (or four) to get the news that is available five minutes after the event finishes? Or, in the case of many sporting events, gametrackers keep a fan in the game pitch by pitch or play by play.
Also, a lot of print magazines have folded. I wrote freelance for a magazine that later went out of business. And another magazine I used to write for is now half of its old size with twice as many ads. So some magazines are dead and others exist in a diminished state. Why not sound the death knoll? Why not admit that magazines should go away completely?
Well, here’s why:
Blogs and websites are important, and we all get information from the internet, but there’s very little vetting going on or the vetting is being done by the populace. And the internet has made this the norm. Information is so circular now that I actually heard a professor friend of mine say, “Wikipedia’s fine for papers now. Lots of people go online and correct things if they’re wrong.” Hmm….Good logic. If a lot of people who don’t know much of anything are fixing all of the errors, then everything must be correct, right?
On the same line of thinking, one of my brothers said that he’d been reading “a bunch of blogs” in the last week and they’d said that that the best athletes in the world play basketball or football rather than soccer or the olympic decathlon. Sure. That makes sense. If a bunch of blogs said so…
I write for three blogs (The Huffington Post, Ampheta’Zine, and this here blog), and I know exactly how little editing goes into online writing. For some blogs, “editing” means officially posting the writing to the front of the site. For others, it’s fixing a comma or two. For very few, editing actually means making the piece better. But time comes into play. For a story to be timely, the post must go up quickly. For example, on cbssports.com, a very popular blogsite, post-game articles are usually printed within five minutes of the end of the event. With that sort of quick turnaround, how can editing take place (not to mention strong, thoughtful writing in the first place)?
On the other hand, when I wrote an article for Rock and Ice Magazine, the editor had me write ten drafts before she accepted a draft as final. Ten. That’s not an exaggeration. Rock and Ice is doing well because they have committed to quality writing, editing, and revising. Slamming through the editing process doesn’t produce excellent writing, and anyone who argues otherwise is a big fan of Jack Kerouac.
Finally, website and blog photos are generally crap. And on a computer screen, they look even worse. Artistic photos on a blogsite don’t tell the easy, quicklink story that they need to tell to suck in a websurfing viewer. Super Bowl just ended? Show me a picture of someone holding the trophy. Kristen just cheated on Rob? Show me a grainy photo of another man with his arms around Kristen.
So to bring it back to the offered copy of Sports Illustrated yesterday, my brother-in-law was being offered a well-written, well-edited, and photographically beautiful sporting magazine. No, the stories aren’t up to the minute. Some of the stories in the mag were as many as SEVEN days old. But what about quality?