Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Squash in the Fourth Dimension

The 4th dimension is of course Time, and time, in publishing, can throw a wet blanket on things.

I just received, on June 5, the April/May issue of Squash Magazine, the official publication of US Squash. The fact that I received it late, not even within the extra-wide 2-month window of its publication date, was noteworthy. Why would a publisher do that? Well, being in publishing myself, I can guess that the answer is probably related to ad dollars. The publisher and editor, Jay Prince, was probably holding out for a few more ads before he put the magazine to bed. Jay gets some money from US Squash to put the magazine out, but he relies heavily on ad dollars to keep the enterprise afloat.

I can completely understand. We have had to do that a few times when advertisers have turned uncharacteristically impecunious (ie, cheap!). But it is dangerous to do that when publishing a news magazine, because it puts in jeopardy the usefulness of the very thing that constitutes the reason for the publication in the first place: news....

In the April/May issue there are four feature articles. Each one reviews the results from a squash tournament. And all four of the tournaments on display in this issue were from March.

So I received the issue in June, and am to read a series of articles about tournaments from March... In the age of the internet, this is not a winning formula.

The issue has a few other head-scratchers, like an invitation to attend the CitySquash 10th-year party at the University Club in NYC, which had already taken place nearly a week before I received the issue.

Now, this should not be read as criticism of the management of Squash Magazine. I am sympathetic to the problems of publishing under financial duress.

But I think it might be time to change the model. Forget publishing a print magazine; printing and postage costs are too expensive anyway. Prince and his editorial staff can publish the news about squash and run all their feature articles online as quickly as possible so that the information on their website is still fresh. I visit online squash sites all the time, so Squash Magazine's current articles about the US Junior Championships, the adult US Championships, the US Doubles Championships and the US Skill Level Championships were no longer of interest to me -- I had read about them months ago!

US Squash gives Jay Prince money to help fund the magazine because receiving it is a benefit of membership in US Squash, so if the magazine were to resort to an online-only presence, then some significant additional information on the site should be closed to US Squash members only. That could be easily done by setting up a password-protected part of the site. In this section would be additional articles, association news, and enticing visual items, including images and videos from tournaments as well as podcasts, blogs, and other online-only offerings.

The internet is perfect for covering a sport. You can talk about it all you want, include some pictures and diagrams, but actually watching it is always going to have the most impact. But above all, the internet respects the dangers of the fourth dimension when it comes to the dissemination of news. It's time Squash Magazine made the digital leap. 


  1. (I)mpecunious (i.e. cheap)????
    Not quite.

  2. You're right. Impecunious doesn't mean cheap, it means penniless. Oops. This is why god invented copyeditors.... I could fix it but I think I'll leave it there as silent testament to my fallibility.


Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....