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 issignificantly changing the way sports are covered, and SI.com is both drivingand deconstructing that rapid evolution for readers. Of course you have to becareful out there. Think information delivery; now think Wild West.
There is an oldjoke that the Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for somepeople it can be a complete substitute for life. Well, yes, but for the sportsfan it can also contribute mightily to a new information utopia. There is justso much sports stuff online--scores, news, stats, video, opinion, jokes--and itjust 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 severalgenerations of new digital technology. Yahoo indeed.
That's thelandscape. The trick is finding what you want in some kind of manageable formatwithout getting ambushed by plastic fish singing Pretty Woman or sites offeringsuggestions for Brangelina's baby's name. And then there is the matter ofcredibility. Did I mention columnists who seldom leave their couches holdingforth like George Plimpton, athletes breaking their own "news" onpersonal websites, and rampant rumormongering? There is a dumbfounding amountof creepy and just plain wrong information, some of it about sports, which canmake the Internet feel like a delivery system for bad craziness. The demand foran alternative to all that is why there is an SI.com, and why the magazine isrunning a package this week rounding up interesting and illuminating voices andsites on the Web. We want everyone who loves sports as much as we do to knowthat good Internet journalism is about more than logos with a Web address. Ittruly is the content, etc.
SI's man on thatjob is Paul Fichtenbaum, who has been managing editor of SI.com since January2004. He oversees a 24/7 news operation that delivers more than 200 originalstories each week, in addition to up-to-the-minute scores, breaking news,statistics, analysis and humor--not to mention SI Swimsuit features. "Whatmakes the Web so irresistible is that on the same day we dissect every minuteof an NCAA tournament game we also have room to dig deep on people like TerrellOwens," says Fichtenbaum, who has been with SI since 1989. "We have theability to tap into SI's journalistic and ethical DNA on a constant basis. Whatcould be better than that?"
Readersatisfaction is soaring, and so are the numbers: SI.com had a record-breaking440 million page views last month and a revenue increase of 104% last year.Yes, the Web, we're all over it.
For breaking news, scores, stats, photo galleries andanalysis every day, go to SI.com.