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Messenger Archives - March 2007

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Internet Killed the Newspaper Star

Dotcom Dumbass

Boy was I wrong about the Internet! As a graphic designer in 1996 working mostly for newspapers, I was thrilled about the web because it meant I could finally design stuff in color! The web would be all about the graphics, I figured, and graphics is what I love to do.

The first Internet company I worked for was run by a guy who was convinced that kissing Krist Novoselic's ass was critical to his success, so he commissioned me to design a website for Novoselic's new pet project, JAMPAC, a music industry lobbying group. The site we developed for them consisted of giant full-page graphics, each over 600K and extremely slow to load for almost everybody online at the time.

If only I had known that success on the web is based on quality information and text, not fancy, trendy-designy artwork. The people at Google got that right, didn't they? Unfortunately, by the time Google went public my wrongness about the Internet had cruelly deprived me of disposable monies and I couldn't afford even a single precious share of their stock.

So much wrongness in so little time: like many other doctom jackasses of the era, I was going around saying that everybody would have high-speed connections within a matter of months. I misjudged that by, oh, about a decade: I personally ditched my dial-up account for a cable connection just last week!

Ruthless Tree Killers

In 1996 I was among the many know-it-all idiots saying that the web would soon render newspapers and other printed matter obsolete. While it's true that, ten years later, newspapers are indeed starting to feel a pinch, they will in no way be eliminated by the web any more than TV killed radio or motorcars killed bicycles. I, for one, enjoy curling up in the bathtub with a good newspaper or magazine, and you're not going to catch me bringing my laptop in there. I'm smarter now.

In the future, printed matter will focus more on promoting its online kin. Right now the Messenger delivers 7,000 printed copies (which fit neatly into the back of my pickup truck) and has about that many readers online, but we're looking to increase our web readership. On a larger scale, the Stranger has suffered a drop in circulation recently, but their retooled website is looking fabulous, so fabulous that they could end the printed version tomorrow and no one would be inconvenienced except those sorry prostitute-seekers who cannot manage to operate a computer.

The Stranger churns out an eighteen-wheeler-load of papers every week, and the Times and P-I deliver at least that many on a daily basis. That's a grove of trees right there, within which once lived raccoons and a colony of bushtits. Hemp - that great renewable resource - could provide all our newsprint needs without the carnage and distress. But, sadly, the pulp and paper mills are designed to process cellulose from wood pulp, not hemp. Imagine what a paradise the Northwest could become if the entire paper industry were restructured to process the friendly marijuana plant instead of the slow-growing fir tree. Even better, and I'm just hypothesizing here, the rugged type of hemp now used in textiles could be replaced by more versatile, THC-rich strains. That way, the tops of the plants could be harvested and sold to discerning drug consumers while the rest of the plant could be made into paper: a system that would reduce greenhouse gases, increase tax revenues, and ease the cares of an increasingly disillusioned populace with clean, renewable pot. Everybody wins.

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Paper-Free and Proud

Speaking of saving paper: congrats to my old friends David Brewster and Knute Berger, late of the Weekly, for their new Internet-only magazine Crosscoot.com. Their press release promises that Crosscoot will be a "venue for civic gatherings, weblogs (or 'blogs') and fresh public-policy recommendations," and we here at the Messenger salute this new addition to the journalistic landscape and their efforts to attract additional funding. Visit them at www.crosscoot.com.

See also: Crosscut.com: From Unprofitable to "Non-Profit"

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Fear and Sinning

Check out February's "Seattle Sinner" for a nice profile of yours truly. The piece is a bit of a challenge -- the Sinner takes an improvisational, rules-are-made-to-be-broken approach to spelling and grammar -- but if you can navigate your way through it I think you'll find it's a spirited, entertaining profile.

See the Messenger article that inpsired the Sinner profile here:
Uh Oh. Bad News. Messenger Archives - January 2007

Seattle Sinner

-Alex R. Mayer


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