When I wrote “The Gambler,” I had just finished a stint as online editor of a non-profit magazine, where I worked primarily on the question of how a print publication could transition online and not die in the process. Blogs and RSS feeds, community-building tools and payment models, push and pull technologies and social networks filled my days. And along with it, always, the business pressures we faced: How to generate revenue from our online work? How to measure value? How to make sure that print and online products didn’t gut one another? We were in a constant state of experimentation.
I can’t say that I found the answers; more like found a lot of questions. Everything from our budget to our staffing to our content focus imposed limits on what we could do, or even imagine doing, and there was always more that we could have been doing. But our magazine’s struggle to transition to a world dominated by new revenue models, customer expectations, and measurement technologies — and what that might imply for news gathering and journalists — really hung with me. “The Gambler” was the result.
In light of recent events in the publishing industry, everything from the Christian Science Monitor’s decision to go electronic to the New York Times’ precarious financial state, “The Gambler” has been feeling weirdly relevant. Maybe that’s just me, because I was and remain obsessed with these technologies and the fourth estate. Thanks to Lou Anders and Fast Forward 2, though, you can now take a look at one version of journalism’s future and decide for yourself.