Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is print dying?

Why yes, I'm a big enough journalism nerd that I took a photo of the building occupied by both the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News while wandering around downtown in November.

"____ is Dead." Whether that's rock and roll, or CDs, or the American auto industry, or anything else...there's a lot of proclamations of death out there.

That print media - from newspapers to magazines, back again - is included on this hypothetical Grim Reaper's list is, frankly, saddening to me. Of course this is because I'm the type of person who does pick up magazines, enjoys the feel of glossy paper, loves flipping through a big Sunday newspaper, and has studied both newspaper and magazine design. So, yes, I have a vested interest.

And, scarier still, the death knell has been ringing out in the newspaper business. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer could close down very soon (in fact, one of the ways it might stay open is by becoming online-only), and the downtown Denver-based Rocky Mountain News is for sale, just short of the paper's 150th anniversary. Newspapers in California and Detroit are also not quite doing so well. It's very likely a major metropolitan area newspaper could close this year, and if debtors come calling on the ownership group of the Denver Post, then a major city could be without newspapers.

Why? Well, it boils down to simply, why buy something that's free? In an effort to diversify online and meet the demands of 21st century media consumers, newspapers and journalists are often putting more on their sites than in the paper. Print advertising is shrinking; therefore, smaller papers, lower circulations, etc. in a downward-circling spiral. Online is the new way to go.

But this doesn't mean the printed word will die out. Arguably man's greatest invention (the printing press) will still be required. Why not? Well, look at the coexistence of radio, television, movies, the Internet, and all other forms of multimedia. When television broke big in the 1950s, it was supposed to herald the end of radio; sure, it's not as popular as before, but the radio business hasn't died. Same with television and the Internet - just because the latter exists (and can, ahem, become the other one some places online).

The future is now - digitally-delivered newspapers and magazines, like Sporting News Today, are the evolution of journalism

As well, a likely next step will be magazines and newspapers delivered digitally to your inbox. It makes sense - most newspapers and magazines use publishing software that can publish a .pdf file simply and easily, and in that case, why not deliver the same goods without the hassle of printing up a few thousand issues? I receive a sports newspaper in my inbox each morning, Sporting News' "Today" (pictured above) which weighs in at 30-plus broadsheet pages an issue. You follow the link and go through their reader, which allows you to click and zoom in on articles.

GP Week, a weekly magazine launched last year that follows Formula 1, World Rally and MotoGP racing, works the same way. So does Winding Road, and I'm sure many others. Other sites - like gaming site The Escapist and's "Cover Stories" - also act more like print pieces, but without being .pdf files or using online readers.

But that's significant - all of those pieces of media are nodding back to the tenets of print layout and design.

Things look grim - but, this is also why I say that print will never die. At least, not fully. Just as parents live on in their children and individuals and events live on in recorded history, the lineage and heritage of print media will live on - whether or not it uses ink and paper.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What I'm Playing - 1-26-09 edition

I want to get some regular sort of things going here. This seems as good as any. In the tradition of many, many gaming podcasts, including especially 1up Yours, it's "What'cha Been Playing?" - Quick thoughts on what's been in the system(s) the last week...

This is a good week to start this because I've actually played quite a few different games. Here's just a few...

-NCAA Football 09 - playing in now three different Online Dynasties has ensured that this is always near my 360, and is sometimes all I play. I've done okay the last week or so, beating up on the computer a couple times but losing to my man Fletcher in the Big 12 league we're in tonight. Everything surrounding playing the games in the league is fascinating - how people are "game-ing" the game, pulling recruits, everything. Seems like EA Sports got that right, even, too.

-Rock Band 2 - I've been drumming a lot on the game recently, both online and off. Trying to get my groove back and get up to drumming on expert again...the increased difficulty of RB2 songs isn't helping much of anything right now.

-Diablo II - Trying to get into the swing of playing this somewhat regularly with Dan, Nick, etc. It's amazing how something as simple as pointing and clicking can be so damned addictive, though. And it runs brilliantly on my MacBook, too!

-Gears of War 2 - Played through all of Horde mode with Nick, Tyler, and couple others in support. Level 50 can be an absolute monster, too. Super, super, super fun way to play the game, though.

-FIFA 09 - And specifically "Be a Pro" mode. I'm hooked; absolutely addicted. There's no feeling like the rush you get when the camera tucks up behind you and you're one-on-one; it's agonizing to take a shot and have it hit the post, it's brilliant when you get one past the keeper. The curve on this mode is perfect for me right now, too.

-Fable II - Ah, yes. I took my leisurely stroll through this to its end last night, and was affected by and slightly disappointed with the ending in equal measure. I am going to do more of a write-up on my thoughts on this soon, but even though I'm a little frustrated by it...I still fired up a brand-new character and played two and a half more hours after I finished the game with my first dude.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

From the "Fastball in the wheelhouse" department...

Somehow I can't see it marching down the red carpet. Photo from flickr.

So apparently there's a new documentary about the 24 Hours of Le Mans that is set to debut the weekend of Sebring.

That's not the exciting part. I'd be happy to see something like that regardless. But - BUT - it's called "Truth in 24," it's made by NFL Films (!) and is narrated by Jason Statham, aka my friend's official mancrush.

I don't quite remember asking for something so awesome (NFL Films has amazing cinematography and is a superb company, it focuses on Audi's march of dominance, pretty sure it's shot in HD, etc.) but I'll take it. Oh, and it's debuting on ESPN.

That's my jaw dropping to the floor, and me wondering if I can save enough to buy an HDTV by then. Should be absolutely awesome to see in full glory.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Because there hasn't been a photo post in a while

Might as well throw some photos from November up...just because. All photos from my flickr account, and ©2008.



A statue in front of the Colorado state Capitol Building in downtown Denver.


A view of the mountains that sit just outside of Boulder - I get to look up and see these most days.


Part of the Museum of Art in downtown Denver - the rest of it looks just as wild.


Downtown Denver has areas with a unique mix of very old and new architecture, including some spots where modern glass high-rises nestle up against churches.

I need an excuse to go wander around and take more photos. Might have to make some time this weekend to go explore with my camera, including maybe downtown Boulder.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cash Rules Everything Around Me - Sports succumbing to the bottom line, v. 4,146,900

AC Milan midfielder Kaka, a former World Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or (European Fotballer of the Year), is the target of the most recent example of money being thrown around in sports like it's Monopoly. Photo from

"Cash rules everything around me/C.R.E.A.M. get the money/Dolla dolla bill ya'll." Arguably the best-known song from the Wu-Tang Clan's breakout debut album, "C.R.E.A.M." is also applicable as a refrain when absolutely silly amounts of money are thrown around in the world of sports.

It's applicable often nowadays, considering the amount of money teams make, what the salary caps are in American sports, the budgets of big-money NASCAR and Formula 1 racing teams, and the amount of money bidded on players in European soccer. I don't know if it's wrong or right, but there's certainly a lot of money being thrown around.

Take our boy Kaka there as seen above. He's a star playmaking midfielder for Italian giants AC Milan, lifted the Champion's League trophy in 2007, and won a World Cup as a young substitute for Brazil in 2002. He's a silky-smooth passer and dribbler without the flair of a Cristiano Ronaldo or Robinho, but the capability to drive a team from the heart of midfield. He won both the FIFA World Player of the Year and the European Footballer of the Year, the Golden Ball (Ballon d'Or), after the 2006-07 Champion's League-winning season, and is clearly a player most any team in the world would love to have in its side.

Which still doesn't quite excuse nouveau-riche Manchester City's ~$155 million bid for him (link to BBC Sports). Of course it's not the player's fault, and one would hardly blame him if he decided to accept City's offer. However, this move would more than double the record transfer fee and certainly challenge the deal New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez has as the richest for a team-sports athlete in the world.

Current world transfer-record player, former France playmaker Zinedine Zidane, being introduced after Real Madrid paid Juventus 46 million pounds ($67 million) for his services

The names at the top of the record transfer list are not entirely shocking when one thinks about it. Real Madrid are the New York Yankees of international soccer; 9 European cups, nearly 30 Spanish Liga titles, and a grand history of expensive stars. Juventus are the "old lady" of Italian football, Inter are the rich little brother in Italy (well supported but falling short in title chases numerous times), Barcelona are the old enemy to Madrid in Spain and have a history of splashing cash, and Manchester United are quite possibly the best-known soccer team in the United States, thanks to star players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and of course, at one time, David Beckham.

But two other names stand out. Manchester City, the squad looking to more than double the transfer record to sign Kaka, have already added a big-name Brazilian star in the form of Robinho, signing him from Real Madrid in August for 30 million pounds. Lazio, though - who were injected with cash in the late 1990s in order to push the Roman side into the Italian title chase - mirror Manchester City rather well, down to the traditional home colors of sky blue.

Former Lazio owner Sergio Cragnotti poses with one of the players his largesse brought to the Roman side, Czech winger Pavel Nedved.

Lazio were powered forward by the largesse of Italian food magnate Sergio Cragnotti, who spent early and often in a search for the Italian scudetto. While Lazio had always been one of Italy's "Big Six" (along with Juventus, Inter, AC Milan, AS Roma, and at times Fiorentina), Cragnotti wanted to rocket the team into the stratosphere.

The well ran dry and it left Lazio stumbling; they seem to have recovered and made the Champion's League in 2007-08, but have done so without spending huge.

Sound familiar? Manchester City were purchased in late August by a group that consists of the royal family of the city of Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates. Oil-rich and expanding into tourism and finance to diversify its economy, Abu Dhabi's royal family has a multi-billion dollar bankroll behind them thanks to oil production. Now, they're trying to play a virtual video game with the Premier League and see if, like on the PC games, attracting all the best players in the world with lots of money will lead to success.

Of course you can't help but think of the impact this has on sports in general. If it works, and Manchester City - traditionally well-supported in England but without a great history of winning titles - qualifies for the Champion's League and challenges for titles, then the "money cheat code" method of ownership could be proven correct.

Regardless of the opulence it's representative of the sports world at large. TV money has poured into a variety of sports since the late 1960s, and with it has come an era of previously-unheard of success. The NFL practically has a license to print money in the United States - and yet ticket prices are only ever going up. Major League Baseball had 10 teams with payrolls higher than $100 million in a year, and that includes the Yankees, who broke $200 million.

The New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez is currently the highest-paid team sport athlete in the world; will Kaka's salary match his?

What can be done about it, though? Short of salary caps staying at an equal level and nobody deciding to break the salary caps with tons of money, that is; in leagues without salary caps, like Major League Baseball and European soccer, there's nothing to it. If it works as a business decision and you can afford it, who's to stop you spending that much money? Welcome to the free economy.

It's a tough situation. Stop supporting sports because of the money being thrown around? Stop supporting the highest levels of athletics and focus on semi-pro, or more minor leagues? Or go along, wary, hoping that when the bubble bursts, your team will be in decent financial shape?

It's a tough decision. Especially as, during all great booms, it looks like the money will never dry up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

End of a dream

It's been almost a week, and, yes, Electronic Gaming Monthly is still dead.

This won't be showing up in my mailbox anymore. I still can't believe it

On the surface of it, one of (if not the) longest-running magazines in a nascent industry has succumbed to a combination of the terrible economy and "the death of print media." It's a problem that's only exasperated by the fact that, by and large, the tech industries - including video games - have news that happens so fast, printed media is falling behind simply because the tech-happy userbase is getting information online.

That's just the surface, and what anybody outside the industry would see. To the diehard fans of the medium and enthusiasts who follow news online, possibly subscribed to EGM, and are crazy and invested enough to know and care about the people writing about the industry, though, this is a huge blow.

(Okay, that's me. But I'm not the only one)

EGM attracted a huge following for very good reason: It was regularly the best-written piece of media, online or off, about video games. Period, the end. Between EGM proper and its (surviving) online outlet,, I had all the steady video game news, views, and discussion I could really handle.

Beyond even that, the death of EGM represents, to me, the death of a dream. That magazine wasn't the first I ever read or read regularly; that honor belongs to the three different car magazines (Car and Driver, Road & Track, and Automobile) my dad used to get. And EGM didn't get me into writing - I'm sure my parents can confirm I wrote, a lot, before I'd even picked up a single copy of the magazine. But it was subscribing to EGM that coincided with becoming "hardcore" about gaming, and - a few years later - realizing that journalism might be what I wanted to do.

My subscription began in 1999 (after picking up a few copies here and there in the summer of 1998), right at the beginning of the year. That was a great time for the magazine - issues that winter swelled to over 300 pages (astonishing for a magazine!), and former editor John Davison has called that a great time for the mag.

And as it looked more and more like writing would become a passion and possibly a career, EGM became a quietly-whispered target. I don't want to hole myself in for fear of ignoring any future possibilities, but it sounded like so much fun - writing about something I love? What a wonderful combination.

That dream is now dead. Oh, sure, there's still gaming journalism, but as it was before this past Tuesday was a very special place. I've met many of the writers and editors (including both those who were laid off and who stayed on) and, after reading their work and listening to their podcasts for years, you got the sense of passion, that there was no bullshit, and that they loved doing what they did.

So it's not just the shuttering of a magazine, leaving the January 2009 issue that now heads my magazine stack as the final issue printed; it's the end of a dream. I know those writers, editors, and designers who lost their jobs will find work again; that's not in doubt. I know I might end up joining that industry at some point too. But the mighty magazine that played a part in inspiring me is now gone, and it still hurts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

An update appears!

This is one of many "sorry I'll post more" posts. I've made this promise in the past, and I'll probably make it again. But right now I do need to post more, and will try to, so we dance this dance.

So. The last update was...early November? Right. Since then I've been settling in to a new personal and professional life in Boulder, Colorado. More details to come later, of course, but I'm gaining more and more every day and will hopefully soon be adding more to what I do and what my role is at the paper.

The personal part can be trickier. But, just like my personal experience moving before, I'm taking my time, easing into life, and hopefully me being bored in my apartment will be just a phase.

More details on the interesting, crazy things in life here, as well as the many thoughts I have on the worlds of sports, games, etc.