The legendary journalist Jimmy Breslin once said the beauty of holding and reading a newspaper is that you never know what surprises are in store when you turn the page. That of course was well before the Kindle and IPad infused world we are now in, where data and all forms of media can literally change in the blink of an eye, with no worry of turning the page.
Newspapers and information sources become outdated in many cases as soon as they are printed, or the next news cycle begins, and technology is giving us the ability to continue to streamline our information process.
In sports that information process largely revolves around the pages of statistics that change and records that rise and fall as any season starts and then moves along over the months. The trusty media guides have given way to CD-rom which have now given way to memory sticks. Yes there is probably still a need for hard cover statistical gathering and distribution, but the forests of trees being saved by not printing thousands of media guides by professional and college teams these days could make for an interesting green study all its own.
The latest iteration of technology upgrading was provided recently by Major league baseball, which is providing not just its overall record books, but all of the team media guides, on one memory stick. The sticks can be updated as records changed via email, and new data sources, like All-Star or Playoff information, can also be added on to the stick as the season progresses and information changes, or roster moves are made.
It is not that dissimilar from what the NHL and the NFL have migrated towards over the last few years, and MLS provides a similar tool for its media and staff. Is it cumbersome to go through literally thousands of pages on line and not have the info at your fingertips on deadline (although these days most deadlines start when news occurs, not at a predetermined hour)? Perhaps.
It still may be easier to have a traditional, dog-eared book to thumb through as needed. However the ability to pull, cut and paste and drop facts and even charts into a story could also save time doing re-writes as well.
Also the ability to effectively update information and provide the latest facts not just by media but for media, also gives the online version another added boost. There is also the off chance that one could still print all the info available on the stick, thus creating your own defacto media guide if needed, annotated as the writer or staff member likes. Do guides on the pro side need to have the glossy pictures and color charts of years past?
Much to the detriment of the printing industry, probably they do not. In fact, the addition of large images will fill online space and memory on a disc, and may actually work against the end user in download time. On the multimedia side, the ability to drop in video, or interviews or podcasts into media guides also now exists and can be accessed like never before, giving the creator the ability to enhance the information process even more.
So will the hard copies of print those surprises around the turn of the page, go the way of the typewriter and the fax machine? It seems so, especially in the cost-efficient, time saving era we are now immersed in. Now maybe the surprises will just come with the download.