friday random ten, 1970 edition
extras revisited

newspapers, the future, thinking

This is mostly a link to something better, but I thought to add a couple of words of my own. It's actually a link to a link, for a reason ... the original is on a subscription site, so in the past I couldn't link to it. The link is to a blog started recently by Joe Posnanski, a sports writer with more going on than just sports. Joe add a new blog called "The Future of Newspapers" ... SSIA. Today, Joe quoted quite a bit from an off-the-cuff post that showed up on the Bill James subscription site. A couple of years ago I wrote, about a book on James, that his readers all end up taking his general approach and applying that to non-baseball parts of their lives. James' thoughts on newspapers show why. It's not that Bill James is always right, or even that he's 100% right about newspapers. But he rarely just spouts standard wisdom ... even in his off-the-cuff pronouncements, you sense that he's given it some thought. So ... check out "Bill James on Newspapers." And, if you have any interest at all in baseball (I'm tempted to say even if you don't, but I won't push my luck), subscribe to Bill James Online ... it's only $3 a month.

You and I entered the scene at a certain point, where each city had one or two big newspapers which had hundreds and hundreds of features, and they had these things when we were 10 years old and learning to read and they had them when we were 25 years old and 35 years old, so we tended to think of that as the natural and permanent order of the universe -- but it wasn't; it was just a moment in time; the newspapers were very different in 1935 and very different in 1935 from 1910 and hugely different in 1910 from 1885.

Eventually the newspapers -- as a natural outcome of processes that began in 1836 -- became SO big and so expensive that they were dinosaurs, unable to compete with smaller and lighter information providers.

We're back to 1836 now, in a sense; everybody who wants to has his own "newspaper", and it's tough to know who is good and who is reliable and who isn't, but the same processes are still running. The blogs will get bigger; the good ones are hiring a second helper and a third and fourth, and we'll spend a century or more sorting things out and re-creating the market. It's hard, but it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing.