Now That Macweek Is Gone…Wanna Be A Mac Columnist?

If you donit like my opinion, well, I have several others.

Groucho Marx

Iim sure that one of the hardest things in the world is to make a living as a Mac journalist -- Iim sure that itis almost as hard as trying to get black people to understand Clarence Thomas.

Anyway, this is a good time to muse such things, since the Mac community is still pondering the loss of the late, great MacWeek.com. It wasnit too long ago that we were attempting to wrap our minds around the fact that that venerable publication retired its print version and would only be found on the internet.

Now, alas and alack, the Web site, too, has gone the way of the dodo bird. I donit look at this as a loss, though. But more on that later.

It is merely the fulfillment of the inevitable. Only a fool would have believed that the Mac market can sustain two large Web presences that were owned and produced by the same company. Iim referring to MacWeek and MacCentral.

As you probably know, MacWeek and MacCentral both shared news resources and financial wherewithal. I always found that kinda incestuous.

But the site boasted, and rightly so, some of the best Mac writers on the Web: David K. Every, Wes George, and many others whose names I canit remember. Hell, they were so good that I almost considered sending MacWeek a resumé, but I thought better of it.

You see, I knew that an implosion would begin among the heavyweight Mac sites. After all, I used to work for one and saw it firsthand.

15 minutes? Heck, more like five…

For a short time, I wrote my "iBrotha" column for MacAddict.com. For my Warholian 15 minutes, I enjoyed whatever passes for fame in the Mac cyberverse. I enjoyed a high-profile spot on that site, alongside my beer-buddy John H. Farr. I made an obscene amount of money for each column that I wrote, by Web standards. Hell, my black mug was plastered all over the "Mac Web" via banner ads (I keep one on my home page for nostalgiais sake).

But that ended as quickly as it started. John and I were fired in what was, in retrospect, a precursor to the additional staff slashing that soon followed. Now, I believe, they have only one or two people creating the content on their site.

There is one, logical reason why this all happened: MacAddict wasnit making money.

Correction: methinks MacAddict wasnit making enough money to satisfy its parent organization, Imagine Media. Or else the staff wouldnit have been laid off, right? Flash forward a few months, and you see the same thing happening at MacWeek, in my opinion. I hasten to add: there is money to be made at this Mac Web thing. Look at The Mac Observer [Editoris Note: Still looking...]. The problem is when you get the big players involved, slash and burn is inevitable.

There is just no way that the standard news operation can transfer itself over to a Web presence -- not to the point that it can generate the profits the print journals are accustomed to.

Earlier, Iid mentioned that I didnit see MacWeekis demise as a bad thing. Hate to sound like a scavenger, but MacWeekis misfortune bodes well for you and I.

Journalism by the people, for the people

The Mac Web -- any fill-in-the-blank Web, for that matter -- is the perfect medium for scribes like you and me. I like to call us "participatory users." Many of us arenit making a living at this. We are über-hobbyists who want to report on and editorialize about our favorite platform. Many of us have the professional credentials, experience and expertise to bring you the news, but we do it for the sheer fun of contributing to this "community of discourse," understanding that we may not get rich here -- not monetarily, anyway.

Grass-roots journalism. I like the sound of that.

Wanna be a Mac columnist?

The reason I began this soliloquy on writing and the Mac Web is due to some embarrassing occurrences that keep repeating themselves.

Several times Iive been sought out to comment on things Macintosh. Itis almost embarrassing: Locally, Iive given presentations to local Mac User Groups. At MACWORLD San Francisco, I was honored to give a similar presentation to Expo attendees from User Groups throughout the world. Iive been interviewed a few times by local media. (I donit say this to brag, but to show you what you could do.)

But the most gratifying thing, as well as humbling and embarrassing, has been when writers from other Mac Web sites have sought me out, asking my advice. I remember two young men back at Macworld 2000 San Francisco who asked me to give them tips on writing. They produced a Mac Web site and wanted my feedback; it was a pleasure to meet them. This year, a couple of guys who also write for a Mac site expressed their admiration of my writing.

To be honest, I love it when "average readers" compliment me, but it really means something when my colleagues give me the thumbs up and other forms of comrade acknowledgment.

I remember an interview with one of the Beatles -- Paul McCartney, I believe. He said that they were "just four guys in a band, who just happened to make it big."

I say all of this for those people out there who see themselves as "just guys." If I can do this, so can you. Iim sure that many of you out there have strong voices, literary or otherwise. You have something to contribute to the Mac community. So why donit you?

Whatis stopping you?

I believe that your voices can fill the void left by MacWeek. Mac users are what made Apple great. Itis only fitting that we are the ones who should pick up that journalistic mantle. Donit think that you canit make a difference in this internet news biz. Hell, people laugh at Matt Drudge, but his Web site often breaks news that would be buried if not for his cyber sleuthing and electronic reportage.

Iim sure if I searched hard enough, I could think of instances where the Mac Web broke the news that caused that "mainstream" press to take notice, rumor sites notwithstanding.

And, we, too are "just a bunch of guys."

So what are you doing over there, hunched over your keyboard, reading this? Is that all youire going to contribute to the community? Just your two eyeballs?

The internet is supposed to be the Great Equalizer. Itis high time it applied to journalism. Merely sitting on the sidelines is so 20th century.

Over to you.

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