Quick update: I was informed today that I am no longer a Chicago Sun-Times columnist or contributor. So let’s spread the word on that. Sure, because I’d love for another publication to snap me up as the immensely hot property I am in time for me to debut with my coverage of next week’s Apple Event, but mostly because I’m certain that the Sun-Times would appreciate my doing that.
Where to, next? I dunno!
But here’s how I would describe my Dream Date:
- I’m kind of a fan of being part of a larger outfit. I loved being a Sun-Times columnist (and will always be proud of the work I’d done there since 1999) and part of the fun was living up to the legacy of the great writers who came before me and were being published beside me.
- I like health insurance and stuff, but freelancing is fine. I was freelance for the Sun-Times during my whole tenure.
- Ability to publish with great agility. One of my few troubles with the Sun-Times was associated with understaffing. The editors are great folks who work very hard and are stretched quite thin, which often meant that my columns would take days to appear on the site. I’d love to be able to just write something quick and timely and have it in front of people shortly after I pressed a button on the CMS.
- Willingness to publish long, thoughtful stuff, too. I’m only just now getting around to writing about this year’s smart speakers because (a) I didn’t want to be part of the initial marketing scrum and (b) it’s actually taken me a good while to figure out what I think. I have huge respect for my friends at iMore and other sites, whose skills are well-suited towards getting valuable coverage out there almost simultaneously with the events unfolding. My skills are elsewhere.
- Nonetheless, I’m battle-hardened for getting out something quick in response to breaking news, and I would have published SO many quick 200-300 word bits for the Sun-Times if I had publishing privileges on the CMS. But! Honestly, I don’t want to have to know how many clicks something is getting, or be raked over the coals for not getting more of them.
- I reserve the right to make up a word if I can’t fromate one that suits the immediate need of a sentence. This is where heroes step in and fix the inadequacies of the English Language.
- And I’d like to receive enough trust that I can just provide X columns per week or month. I hate pitching. By the time I’ve convinced somebody that a thing is worth publishing, I could have already written it, and if I’m writing it, I want to get paid for it somehow. It’s a vicious circle.
I got my first regular magazine column in 1989. Ever since, my professional goal has been to do for tech what Roger Ebert did for movies. Yes, that was his beat, but what made Roger indispensable was his point of view. When the cast of an upcoming movie is announced, hundreds of sites scramble to post 300 copies of the same information. That’s fine. Roger wasn’t part of that land rush, though. Roger’s take on something was always worth reading, and there was only one writer who was posting it: Roger Ebert.
To do anything as well as Roger did is impossible. But my aspiration to consistently write with that kind of purpose, and to deliver that kind of value, will always be there.
The Sun-Times isn’t — wasn’t — my only source of income. I’m fine. So if I can’t find another columnist-type gig…who knows. Maybe I’ll just post stuff right here. It’s a solution that ticks all of the above boxes except for the first one. Maybe if I establish a routine here, I’ll look for sponsors. Or maybe I’ll give Patreon a go.
Or maybe I’ll become a ronin, honing my skills and purifying my spirit as I work for a series of outfits that need my swords for a specific task.
In any event! I send my thanks to all of my former editors at the Sun-Times over the past fifteen to twenty years. And I’m still tech contributor to WGBH public radio here in Boston, and I’m still co-hosting podcasts with my friends on MacBreak and Material.
And, yeah, if someone with a checkbook would like to step in before I do the unthinkable — publish my Chicago Apple Event coverage here, where I won’t get paid for it — please do get in touch:
(my last name) at gmail.com.