Update #3

Friday, August 21st, 2020

As part of the “build in public” model, I’ve committed to sending a weekly update to everyone who signs up for the Magnificent Irrelevance email list. This is the third update.

Pre-Launch Email List Sign-up Update

Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far.

Starting out on this journey in August was always likely to mean softly, softly approach and results. But small steps forward are still steps forward, and it gives plenty of motivation to add some pressure to the pedal over the next few weeks.

This week has been a slow one on the site visitors and sign-ups front.

Over the past week there have been 58 visits to the website … resulting in 3 tracked conversions.

So this post, when it’s sent out as the Friday update, will be going to 19 people. The graph of progress can be slow and stop-start, but it’s still progress.

Thank you to all of you for being here.

This Week’s Developments

1. Sportswriting vs Sports journalism

I tried to outline what I see as a few differences in a short Twitter thread earlier in the week.

Mainly, the points are:

  • Journalism is often through writing
  • Writing is usually not journalism
  • Journalism is usually some form of public service (“something somebody somewhere doesn’t want written; everything else is PR”, or as James Mitchinson, editor of the Yorkshire Post, wrote this week: “Only journalism done for the betterment of the people and places it serves is actually journalism.”
  • There is lots of clickbait in the world of journalism
  • Clickbait is not good for journalism, and not good for writing
  • Sportswriting that is not strictly sports journalism can still have huge value. The type of writing that unfolds a story through its rhythm and language and atmosphere and structure. Writing that changed the writer in the writing of it, and can change the reader in the reading.

This last point is what Magnificent Irrelevance will try to be, at least at the start.

Writing that unfolds a story through its rhythm and language and atmosphere and structure. Writing that changed the writer in the writing of it, and can change the reader in the reading.

2. An ever-changing tagline

In the first edition of this site, the homepage read: “Sports writing, with soul”.

A few things about this didn’t sit right.

Firstly, the two words. It’s an editorial choice, and spellcheck doesn’t like it, but the decision was been made. Sportswriting is one word for Magnificent Irrelevance from this point onward.

Secondly, and a bigger deal, was this saying that all other sportswriting didn’t have soul?

So I’ve changed it. The new homepage title reads:

Soul-searching sportswriting

As of today, I like that so much better. The energy around it feels very strong. (I’m into the invisible ways of energy…)

3. The Sportswriter’s Life Podcast

The podcast — The Sportswriter’s Life — is still the primary focus, and it’s still the aim to get a few episodes live before the end of August.

The feedback from all the people I’ve spoken to (including New York Times European sports correspondent Karen Crouse, freelance writer and Best American Sports Writing Series Editor Glenn Stout, Sunday Times GAA correspondent Michael Foley, feature writer Mirin Fader of Bleacher Report, Irish Times columnist and Drama in the Bahamas author Dave Hannigan and Wall Street Journal baseball writer Jared Diamond) has been encouraging.

Without wishing to misrepresent any of the guests, a recurring theme in speaking to them has been the mix of pessimism and optimism in their outlook for the future of sportswriting.

It’s hard not to be pessimistic about media business models, but equally, the level of invention and innovation that’s happening everywhere from paid newsletter platform Substack, to The Athletic is encouraging.

Perhaps the biggest element of optimism in the general consensus is this:

People have a hunger for great stories well told.

Perhaps that hunger can be moulded into sustainable business models over time.

Here’s the artwork for the podcast that will be landing on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcast providers in the coming weeks.

The Sportswriter's Life Podcast by Magnificent Irrelevance



That’s all for this Magnificent Irrelevance build in public weekly update.

If you’d like to receive these updates each Friday by email, make sure to sign up here.

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