From The Editor — March 2010: OK, that was the best 4 decades of my life… so far

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME, HAPPY… December 29 marked an historic point in your editor’s life: 40 years at Track & Field News. At a time when all my high school and college buddies are contemplating retirement—or already long retired—here I am pondering what wonders the next few decades on the job are going to yield. (You don’t get rid of me that easily!)

Fittingly, this issue of the magazine is dedicated to celebrating the most recent decade, my fourth on the job. Fitting, because the first time I ever walked into the T&FN offices, as a potential employee, the Sensational Sixties edition was in the early production stages.

When asked who the AOD should be I instantly replied, “Peter Snell.” Since that was the route that management had already chosen, I passed a crucial hiring question and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, of course, we have produced tomes on the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s in addition to this one, so that’s a half-century of track that I’ve seen pass before my eyes. Looking back at how incredible those decades were, how could I not be looking forward eagerly to what’s yet to come?

I don’t look quite the same as I did when that college graduation picture appeared in the magazine, and the magazine doesn’t look the same either. In those days the paper had no shine and what few pictures there were were black & white. And most of the type was so small I can’t imagine now how anybody could read it.

But Houston, we got a problem.

Even though the magazine has never looked better and never had better writing and photography, the future—and I must be blunt here—is uncertain.

That’s because of a development that is both blessing and curse at the same time, and that’s our friend the world of e-communications, which is changing not only the way people get their information, but also how advertisers target their wares.

You’ve surely noticed that print media of all stripes, be they magazines or newspapers, are in trouble as younger readers flee to the e-world. Not only because so much of the content is free, but also because it’s so much faster.

We’re not just noticing this of course, and as I described in my column of November ’04, “Track & Field News is at a crossroads.” In that column I explained that for T&FN to survive in the form so many of you have for so long enjoyed we needed to develop a hybrid model, mixing ink & paper with electrons.

Thus it is that even though it gripes many of the faithful something fierce, we no longer print monthly lists in the magazine. Those are available, fresh and new, on a weekly basis online. We don’t print many results anymore, except for the major-major meets. Those are available, fresh and new, e-mailed to you weekly as part of eTrackNewsletter, which comes to you free as part of your magazine subscription.

Think of The Oughts as a birthing decade of the print/electronic mix. As The Teens develop, so will our combined product, battling all the zits and angst that come with being a teenager. But rest assured, we’re doing all we can to continue to be your best track & field source.