Today’s Machining World Archives June 2011 Volume 07 Issue 05
Why go completely online with Today’s Machining World? A big piece of the puzzle is Sam Smith. Sam Smith used to be the primary beat reporter following pro basketball for the Chicago Tribune. He wrote a well-received book called The Jordan Rules about Michael Jordan and his effect on the NBA.
A few years ago, Sam felt marginalized at the bankrupt, cost-cutting newspaper and left the Trib. Smith had always mocked bloggers as pretend journalists who worked out of their basements, but when he was looking for a new life as a writer the Chicago Bulls offered him a job as the team’s featured blogger.
Smith took the job with the ground rules that he would write the blog like an independent sports writer, even though the Bulls were paying him. An inherent conflict of interest, but not that different than a machinery dealer writing about the industry he does business in.
Sam Smith’s column about the Chicago Bulls is one of the most consistently brilliant pieces of writing I now follow. Without the Tribune’s constraints, Smith can express himself editorially and write at any length he deems appropriate. For somebody whose professional life has been shaped by a love of great sports prose, Sam’s example of putting himself in a position to just write great stuff pointed me in the direction of dropping the print business and all of its trappings and expenses to, as Noah says, “Sam Smith it.”
I thought I wanted to do a magazine to make money and have influence, but what I really wanted was to write great stuff and have it read.
The Sam Smith model, along with Seth Godin’s blog and books, showed me that I no longer needed TMW’s ink and paper to reach an audience.
The magazine has served its purpose. It enabled me to build an audience and hone my skills. It also afforded Noah a launching pad for his career. It gave me a chance to work with great people like Emily Halgrimson, Todd Toborg, Jill Sevelow, Rob Bocok and Dan Pels.
I already feel like my writing has gained a zest to it that may have leaked out in recent years. Hopefully you’ll feel it too. Keep reading, my friends—online.
I wrote this piece six months ago. I was right. The online blog suits my writing well. Short, pithy, zestful articles are what I probably do best. Short attention span, I guess.