Who Reads Anymore?

It was a perfect coincidence that Fox Sports announced yesterday it was pretty much gutting it’s entire writing and editing staff at their -dot.com portal, and will instead focus on video editing and production. Or, to put it more bluntly: to mash the button even harder on promoting their FS1 hot-take outrage muppets and troll-bots.

Super.

That said… I don’t necessarily disagree with logic of the move. Once upon a time on the internet, major media players like Fox were expected to have a wide variety of forms of sports “product” so to speak. Not just articles and “blogs” but also audio snippets, and of course now, video. But since it had become apparent to me a long time ago that Fox Sports was not even trying when it came to presenting a decent written product out there, there’s no real shame in surrender.

Of course, there’s no need for me to watch what Fox Sports will NOW put out there, but I’m sure somebody will.

Back to writing, and reading for a minute. As I am sure you know, dear loyal reader of Czabe.com, I have been very IN-frequent in my writing on this site. I am aiming to do better, and you may be able to see, there’s been a slight uptick in the rate of my posts. My goal, is to write something in the range of 500-1000 words every day. Perhaps even weekends. But let’s see how I do first on a Monday-Friday schedule.

I have always struggled with exactly WHAT I should write about here, and HOW I should deliver it. For a while I was writing this like a typical “sports blog” where the big sports news o’ the day was given my “take” in written form. But then I thought: “But I do this on my radio show(s). Why replicate it here?” At times I have posted meaty entries with a large volume of outside links to stories and references, along with embedded videos to further my point, or add to the experience of stopping over to see what I was up to.

But I think I am going to start treating this as my daily journal. More personal. More “behind the music” -ish. Sometimes venturing off of sports, but trying desperately to steer away from politics. All politics are personal, and they always generate an argument. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just I would need to sit down with somebody I disagree with over a beer, and go back and forth for quite a while to full explain the nuances of where I stood on any variety of issues in today’s world.

Besides, my goal is to be EVERYBODY’s favorite sports donkey!

Back to the “coincidence” I spoke of at the top. I went to the Nationals baseball game on Sunday, and had every intention of making a little 1-minute “mini-movie” of the experience. Because, you know, “video on the web is the future!” Well, I quickly realized something: I just didn’t FEEL like hamming it up while going to the game. And that’s precisely what making any kind of interesting video requires: a little bit of acting and certainly a dose of nonsense.

Not only that, but for it to look and sound good, you have to be very conscientious about what you are doing. How is the light? Is it noisy? Who is going to hold the camera? And on and on. Plus, what if I have a good “line” I want to deliver, and I keep messing it up? How many takes in front of the ballpark am I willing to make my guests endure?

Furthermore, to get the “key moment” in a sporting event on video, you have to vigilantly be rolling on hours of action. Who has the time or patience for that? Lastly, I still don’t quite have the public persona ego that is coated in enough embarrassment repellant to feel good about doing these things. For example, former Jags QB and DC native Byron Leftwich was sitting down in our section Sunday. I am pretty sure, that he would have been fine if I had asked him “Hey, can I shoot a quick selfie video and post it” he would have agreed.

But what in the fuck am I going to say with Byron? “How’s life after a mediocre football career?” I mean, making good video content with guys you don’t know, is not easy, and it often comes out of nowhere. Plus, I would have felt like a total KNOB when others sitting around him looked over at me and wondered: “Who the fuck is that, and what is he doing?”

So I think I am pretty much going to abandon any thoughts of producing regular video content here on Czabe.com. The only exceptions would be to someday produce a video version of my radio program(s), or the occasional montage video of an event or trip.

And guess what? People still like to read. I know I do. If I am sitting down eating lunch with my phone, I am going to definitely READ something, and not watch any kind of video. It’s just more quiet, peaceful, and personal. Plus, I have found that like pretty much everybody else these days, I have NO patience at all for watching a video that doesn’t get RIGHT INTO it on whatever the subject matter is.

I suppose this is the residue living in a “quick scan” society. I can scan through an article much faster than wait for a tedious video to unfold and get cooking.

(Side note: Who in the bloody hell ever invented “unboxing” videos on YouTube? And for fuck’s sake… WHY? Why do I need to WATCH you… OPEN the damn package! Holy shit this floors me to no end, and I have never had a good explanation. Also, here’s something YouTubers who review electronics. Don’t fucking bore me with the model number of the camera or gizmo you are reviewing in your script… because…. HELLO! I already SEARCHED for it! And it’s in the TITLE of your damn video! Basically, I think every YouTube review should have a preliminary opinion about the product within the first 20 seconds. But maybe that’s just me…)

And… we’re back.

The last thing I’ll add about READING something on the web, vs. WATCHING something, is that when you choose to read something, you are essentially “opting in” to the content itself. You are making a choice. I WANT to read this. With video, it just seems like the content sorta NAGS you. “Hey, hey! Watch this! Watch! Wait… it’s gonna get good!”

And sometimes, it is good. Many more times, it’s not. And that’s because just about any video clip on the internet which isn’t on the Darwin Awards Twitter account, just isn’t worth your time. Now THOSE videos are amazing! Vicious face plants! Rampant stupidity! And they rarely take more than :40 to deliver!

How in the hell, would my videos every compete with that?

So thanks for reading this post all the way to the end! I promise to be more compelling and topical, tomorrow!

About the Author

Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. He also appears on "Bob and Brian" in Milwaukee. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

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15 Comments

  1. I do. I was seriously disappointed to learn Fox Sports isn’t going to write anymore. I’m glad you are writing more because I will not watch videos. I want to read articles in the quiet and at my own pace, not watch videos that have to compete with all of the other noise in my life.

  2. Czabe, we love to read, you’re stuff. Let’s face it, you’re pretty good at it. It’s my daily release from the stress and reality of life. So even though they aren’t every day, their good and that’s what matters. So we’ll happily drink whatever milkshake you put out there…
    For the record, unboxing videos are relaxing to some people. Don’t know if you’ve ever looked into ASMR, it’s really a thing, either you have it or you don’t, can’t be explained…
    Hope to see you at the horns this year…

  3. I am actually surprised that you haven’t written anything about the ridiculousness of the McEnroe-Serena brouhaha. It is insane how some people are trying to make an issue of how he answered a direct question.

  4. Keep fighting the good fight. I read, still. I am with you, wholeheartedly, about being against the ‘machine’ of embedded video and commercials on YouTube and the rest of the minutia that kills the internet experience. So frustrating to search something, find a promising link in the search results and it leads to a video ‘newscast’ about that topic. Usually starting with a :15-:30 commercial and some yaking head who takes 2 minutes to get to the point in the first place. Hit the ‘back button’ and try again.

  5. When someone writes that much about what they’re thinking about writing, it’s called padding. Czabe, you’re already following Fox’s lead and you don’t even know it.

  6. I like the format idea Czabe. More USA today Larry King esque. “Whatever happen to gymball machines? and That Terry Garr can flat out act!

    1. Another unfunny, hipster douche bag podcast. Google “Robin Williams Golf” and you’ll find something way funnier.

  7. Czabe, you are spot on, as always! I’ve enjoyed listening to you for many years and love reading your posts as well. I love well written articles. Videos do VERY LITTLE for me. Lazy and with little substance, they don’t typically provide much.

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