Last year I had a subscription to Baseball Digest. Supporting a print baseball magazine felt like a good thing to do. At the same time, though, it highlighted the very well-publicized shortcomings of the printed page in a web-based media environment. Baseball Digest describes itself as “the oldest and only baseball magazine in the country.” Unfortunately, it feels that old. It’s not a glossy, the pages are a few steps above newspaper grade and printed completely in black and white and in small format, something in the range of 6 inches by 8.
The word “digest” is defined by the fast dictionary as “a periodical that summarizes the news.” It is hard to come up with a more obsolete tool in the media and information toolbox if you are a baseball fan or even a regular citizen. And the association with octoganerian favorite Reader’s Digest does not help at all (though RD has a far more impressive web presence than BD). The first problem is that “a periodical that summarizes the news” already describes the entire Internet. Hordes of bloggers post links and summaries about the news of the day, from Drudge on down, to say nothing of the baseball second-person link pages like MLB Trade Rumors. When many volunteers scour the web by the minute and post the results at the same pace, a “digest” sounds like it should be next to the Boston News-Letter and the Columbus Citizen-Journal in the index of dusty, deceased periodicals.