On the Internet,
nobody knows you're a dog.
--PETER STEINER cartoon in The New Yorker, July 5, 1993
What are we,
crazy? Running a story sending readers to rival sports sites on the Web?
(Writing Up a Storm, page 58). Call us confident. The truth is that the Web is
significantly changing the way sports are covered, and SI.com is both driving
and deconstructing that rapid evolution for readers. Of course you have to be
careful out there. Think information delivery; now think Wild West.
There is an old
joke that the Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some
people it can be a complete substitute for life. Well, yes, but for the sports
fan it can also contribute mightily to a new information utopia. There is just
so much sports stuff online--scores, news, stats, video, opinion, jokes--and it
just keeps coming. Bill Gates has said that at some point in the '90s we passed
"a milestone ... with regard to the Internet achieving critical mass";
if so, we're probably halfway into a two-decade cycle that will swallow several
generations of new digital technology. Yahoo indeed.
landscape. The trick is finding what you want in some kind of manageable format
without getting ambushed by plastic fish singing Pretty Woman or sites offering
suggestions for Brangelina's baby's name. And then there is the matter of
credibility. Did I mention columnists who seldom leave their couches holding
forth like George Plimpton, athletes breaking their own "news" on
personal websites, and rampant rumormongering? There is a dumbfounding amount
of creepy and just plain wrong information, some of it about sports, which can
make the Internet feel like a delivery system for bad craziness. The demand for
an alternative to all that is why there is an SI.com, and why the magazine is
running a package this week rounding up interesting and illuminating voices and
sites on the Web. We want everyone who loves sports as much as we do to know
that good Internet journalism is about more than logos with a Web address. It
truly is the content, etc.
SI's man on that
job is Paul Fichtenbaum, who has been managing editor of SI.com since January
2004. He oversees a 24/7 news operation that delivers more than 200 original
stories each week, in addition to up-to-the-minute scores, breaking news,
statistics, analysis and humor--not to mention SI Swimsuit features. "What
makes the Web so irresistible is that on the same day we dissect every minute
of an NCAA tournament game we also have room to dig deep on people like Terrell
Owens," says Fichtenbaum, who has been with SI since 1989. "We have the
ability to tap into SI's journalistic and ethical DNA on a constant basis. What
could be better than that?"
satisfaction is soaring, and so are the numbers: SI.com had a record-breaking
440 million page views last month and a revenue increase of 104% last year.
Yes, the Web, we're all over it.