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How do we save the newspaper industry?
It's a question that's been asked a lot recently, and the answer usually has something to do with the Internet. Major League Baseball has been listening, and will be launching their own online daily newspaper in May. Bob Bowman, Chief Executive of MLB Advanced Media, told Michael Hiestand of USA Today what the league has in mind.
Bowman said they want "a newspaper look — big pictures and big headlines — because it's an effective way to communicate. Not necessarily 'Headless Man Found in Topless Bar' headlines, but we want a tabloid look. We don't want it to just look like news items and a series of blogs."
Sounds good, but how do you differentiate between this entity and MLB.com which features big pictures, videos and stories about everything that's happening around the game of baseball? "The facts are on mlb.com," Bowman said. "But people like to read what people think."
That sounds awfully close to, gasp, a blog. The thoughts may belong to Keith Olbermann, who will write for the new project, but the online world is littered with high-quality places to catch up with what people think about baseball. You'd be hard-pressed to get through everything written by Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs and The Hardball Times, to name three sites, in any one day.
Their work doesn't appear to be what Bowman's interested in, though. He said that there are many columnists who "are out there and not being read like columnists were when I was growing up -- and the only thing against them is that they're, say, 52." That indicates that he's looking to aggregate a bunch of cynical old codgers under one umbrella so they can complain about how things were better in their day. It also indicates a pretty staid product coming out of the MLB offices.
That's an overgeneralization of baseball columnists, of course, but the point is that there are plenty of people thinking, talking and writing about baseball in interesting ways right now. If MLB wants their new paper to be something really worth reading, they should research what's out there and bring some of these writers into the fold, rather than reaching back to a bygone era that no one is really dying to see come back.