Grantland is a magazine trapped in a website’s body.
ESPN The Magazine is a website trapped in a magazine’s body.
This is obviously an oversimplification.
But the truth is that neither of these publications play to the strengths of the mediums through which they reach readers. And they would both be better suited if they traded mediums.
We’ll take Bill Simmons’ Grantland first.
The site is modelled after short-lived 1990 sports national newspaper The National. In a podcast, Simmons even made a one-to-one comparison, positioning Grantland as what The National could have been if it wasn’t for the exorbitant production costs that ultimately doomed the newspaper.
But removing the economic constraints that refined the content of The National has weakened the content of Grantland. The site consistently publishes overly-long, over-cooked, and frivolous pieces that readers have no motivation to read.
Moving to a print medium would force Grantland to only publish the top tier of its content.
In addition, the content itself would be unaffected. Grantland, as it’s currently conceived, doesn’t take advantage of the Internet as a medium at all. It simply puts a lot text on a page and asks readers to read it all the way through — there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s more conducive to how people read print publications, not how people use the Internet.
ESPN The Magazine is similarly medium-confused.
Much of The Mag’s most successful content — infographics, hi-res photos, bite-sized polls and charts — would work better in an online space where constraints size and interaction don’t exist.
The quick-hitting, highly-visual style that defines The Mag’s brand is more conducive to how people use the Internet.
So how about it, Bristol? Why not just pull a quick switcheroo and make both publications make a whole lot more sense?
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