5. Future of Sports Writing
RCS: Part of the controversy surrounding Mariotti was about the future -- or lack thereof -- of the Chicago Sun-Times. Sports-writing – and, more generally, the news industry – is in the process of a rapid realignment in which many newspapers are in danger of collapsing. You deal with professional writers on a daily basis. What should professional sports writers do to remain relevant?
Erik Rydholm: I'm reading this collection of Warren Buffett shareholder letters these days and at one point he says that he's learned that he doesn't have to solve big business problems, just avoid them. And so I guess that means having irons in many fires. It's odd because everyone laments the fall of the traditional publishing industry, but conversely, the barriers have lowered to an extent that anyone can self-publish. Bill Simmons was onto this very early one.
I would also point out what you have done. You built a foundation through the convenient aggregation of interesting articles written by others -- source agnostic -- and now that you have that foundation laid, you start producing original content on top.
I actually had some experience with this years ago. I am a founder of the financial site The Motley Fool, along with Tom and David Gardner. Rather than working through the traditional financial news industry, we started our own newsletter and website and quickly found ourselves making an impact that we could never have dreamed we'd make through the traditional channels.
ER: I don't know. I don't think it matters. I don't think it's a rift that will lead to bloodshed. We're all working in the toy department.