The Gutenberg Galaxy, Revisited-how the web revitalized American Track & Field!


Ever since Mr. Gutenberg invented movable type, the paradigm has changed. No longer were books the rights of the wealthy and priviledged. Until the mid fifteenth century, books were, for the most part, laboriously copied, letter by letter, page by page, either in some monestary or for some grandee land owner who wanted his own copy of the Bible. Gutenberg changed all of that!

In the U.S. today, there are over 12,000 special interest magazines published! Now, sixty percent of them will be gone before the end of year one! That is why, starting magazines on the web has proved so lucrative! However, lets' take a different tact for a moment? How does the web help an already established magazine? Read on!

I remember sitting down, after a long trade show in Chicago in July of 1995, when Mike Collins, then president of the Running Network told me, " We have to get on the web." Now, we were having a beverage that one normally has during recreational activities, but this conversation was quite serious.

By the fall of 1995, Mike had found the Running Network a sponsor, a trade organization that offered us some money to start the site, and we were off! I began one for American Track & Field and Cal track right away. In fact, by the summer of 1996, at the Olympics, we had live updates on the web, and we started atf newswire, which has over 150,000 outlets today!

Our learning on the web, and the magazines in the Network's embrace of the web has been very good. We still are not making millions from it, but we have done something more important-our websites are a daily testemonial to our magazine's committment to creating a community. Magazines, and websites are all about community. A special interest magazine creates, if it is successful, creates a bond between reader and magazine. The reader yearns for the magazine. When it arrives, they hole themselves up somewhere and check on their favorite column or favorite feature.

The web has gone through some changes over the past decade. The first, that the web would kill print, has still not happened. And even when you take the HUGE exaggeration in ad figures out, the web has changed media to its very core. The consumer has a say in what he or she reads.

However, it is my belief that just because someone can post does not make them a publisher. Just because someone thinks a Brittany Spears piece is funny and it should be placed above a story about Hamas in Palestine does not make Brittany more important than the Hamas story. Professionals are needed in all activities, and media is no different.

At this time, our company, Shooting Star Media, Inc. ( has four websites, all associated with our magazines, American Track & Field, Athletes Only,
Cal Track & Running News and MO Runner. We will be starting two more, Coaching Athletics and Latinos Corriendo in the next few months.

The web, like any new media, has changed our perceptions and offered us new and creative ways to reach people.

What I have found is that the websites help the magazines. The site keeps the magazine in the mind of the consumer, it gives the magazine a chance to focus on timeless pieces and it helps in research, advertising and marketing.

Now, we have some new technology, digital issues, and we have tried three now, an issue of American Track & Field, a Training Log and our Fall Shoe Review. Please take a look and tell me what you think, please:

A digital, interactive Asics Training Log, that you can also print out:

A digital, interactive version of our Resource Guide, for 2007:

A digital, interactive version of our Fall 2007:

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