Gary Belsky on Journalism, Editing, and Trivia
May 24 2010

Gary Belsky, Editor-in-Chief at ESPN The Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his career path in journalism and the day-to-day life of editing a major American magazine. Belsky discusses some of the lessons of his early career as a business journalist. The discussion then turns to the magazine, its creativity and the perks and challenges of editing the magazine, managing the staff, and chatting up Serena Williams. The conversation closes with a discussion of Belsky's theory of trivia and some of his favorite trivia questions.

Gary Belsky on the Origins of Sports
Gary Belsky, co-author of On the Origins of Sports and former editor-in-chief of ESPN the Magazine, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the origins of sports--how various sports evolved and emerged into their current incarnations. Along the way he...
Skip Sauer on the Economics of Sports
Skip Sauer of Clemson University and Russ Roberts talk about the economic impact of sports stadiums, how to create incentives in baseball, football and soccer, and the virtues and failings of socialism in sports.
Explore audio transcript, further reading that will help you delve deeper into this week’s episode, and vigorous conversations in the form of our comments section below.


Don Rawlins
May 24 2010 at 12:51pm

Richard Nixon was played by Anthony Hopkins in “Nixon” and Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” and both won best actor Oscars.

Josh Sher
May 24 2010 at 12:59pm

Vito coreleon. Brando and DeNiro

Ryan Thomas
May 24 2010 at 1:57pm

I’ll take the low hanging fruit. Adam and Eve had Seth after Cain killed Abel.

May 24 2010 at 6:01pm

Greece is indeed in the World Cup. They likely will not play Germany, but they are in the same group as Argentina (and Nigeria and S. Korea) so probably won’t make it out of the group stage.

What is the circulation of ESPN the magazine? And how many World Cup specials have sold? My guess would be a few hundred thousand (an impressive figure). So the tastes of the “average” American are entirely irrelevant even if it is in the tens of millions. As is so often the case, the average does not tell us anything.

May 25 2010 at 9:03am

Navy, Michigan, and Stanford would be three schools that have produced Presidents and Super Bowl MVP’s — don’t know if there’s a fourth.

May 25 2010 at 11:29am

easily the podcast with the largest gap between how much I *thought* I was going to enjoy it (not much at first glance at the title), and how much I actually did (quite a bit, and was smiling and chuckling often on the metro). Belsky is a very interesting person, and a great interviewee.

…we definitely need to get definitive answers on those trivia questions. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know what Ryan Thomas did.

May 25 2010 at 12:56pm

That guy was talking way too much. I stopped the podcast 10 mins into the interview. He is one of those non-stop bite-your-ear-off people – not cool.

Marc Gunther
May 25 2010 at 2:42pm

Loved the podcast. Trivia was fun.

I got Michigan–Pres. Ford and Tom Brady

Who are the presidents and MVPs from Navy (Staubach?) and Stanford, please?

Zach Winston
May 25 2010 at 4:26pm

Agree with Shawn, I didn’t think I would enjoy the podcast and ended up really enjoying it.

Cody L. Custis
May 25 2010 at 4:55pm

@Marc Gunther

Carter graduated from the Naval Academy. John Elway attended Stanford, as did Herbert Hoover.

I think Miami University (Benjamin Harrison, Ben Rothlesberger) might be the fourth university mentioned. Although Big Ben has won two Super Bowls, he was MVP in neither.

Russ Roberts
May 25 2010 at 6:40pm

Cody L. Custis,

Yes, we weren’t certain about Rothlisberger and that would have made four. Surprised he didn’t win in either one. So the right answer is three…

May 26 2010 at 2:31pm

It may be true that Richard Epstein has the longest answers, but they’re REALLY GOOD answers.

Enjoyed the podcast.

Brendon W. Martin
May 26 2010 at 10:25pm

I very much enjoyed the podcast. Very engaging person. Sounds like someone people would want to work for.

The Nobel Prize was not given in 1948 because Gandhi was assassinated and “no living person deserved the award.”

Trivia Question: Who is the only person to have played in a Final Four and a Super Bowl?

Eric Bailey
May 27 2010 at 2:46am

As a Michigan grad, the President Ford / Tom Brady combo was easy. I couldn’t think of the other two schools. Stanford came to mind, but I failed to recall that President Hoover was an alumnus. Pretty stupid, considering the fact that Russ Roberts is a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

In 1997, Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart both played the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater in the movie, “Titanic.” Winslet and Stuart were nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Unfortunately, while “Titanic” won 11 of the 14 Academy Awards for which it was nominated that year, both ladies went home without an Oscar statuette.

Interestingly, in 2001, Winslet was again nominated for an Academy Award when she played the role of Iris Murdoch in the movie, “Iris.” Judi Dench played the role of the older Iris. She, too, was nominated for an Academy Award. In this case, the older character played by Dench was nominated for Best Actress, while the younger character played by Winslet was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Regardless, the results were the same at the Academy Awards show and both women went home empty-handed.

May 27 2010 at 6:13pm

Taking the sports question first: Stanford (President Herbert Hoover and MVPs Jim Plunkett and John Elway), Michigan (President Gerald Ford and MVPs Tom Brady and Desmond Howard), and Navy (President Jimmy Carter and MVP Roger Staubach).

Agree with one of the posters that the “replacement son” of Adam and Eve was Seth.

Also agree that Vito Corleone was the role in which two actors (Brando and DeNiro) won Oscars -but does it matter that they were for different categories (leading/supporting) and/or Brando declined his?

And the 4th Rice Krispies character – Pow?

Overall, a podcast that seemed to go a mile a minute and on a fun subject. I wish you had delved into the ESPN synergy issue a bit more, especially when Gary spoke of all the ESPN meetings he’s in and all the time he spends in Bristol. Some in the hournalism industry are highly critical of the “ESPN machine” in which they publish a book that’s written to include something controversial, then have their radio, magazine, and TV arms manufacture a firestorm out of it to generate ratings. They’re tremendously vertically and horizontally integrated.

Also, the obvious issue for the magazine editor is the paucity of real investigative journalism stories in it – but that’s true of any of the sports media who also carry the product…they do more PR and fluff pieces (e.g. “the tight bodies” or whatever it was that you talked about) than actual journalism.

Robert Kennedy
May 28 2010 at 9:44am

Like Gary, I’ve in St. Louis with the “Big Red” football Cardinals. Like Gary, I was a big fan of Jim Hart & Jackie Smith & Larry Wilson & Conrad Dobler & all of the others. Unlike Gary, I was happy that the team left St. Louis and have not continued to follow them. All of the great players of that era could not make up for my dislike of the ownership. For me, it was Good Riddance!

Anyway, I think I most enjoyed Gary’s comments about managing his organization and his comments about various media interplay in the current climate. I’m on the Internet on a regular basis but still like to still down with something physical and focus on a topic without the temptation to “link” to something else.

John Mininger
May 31 2010 at 9:03am

“No, all my listeners know that would be Richard Epstein.”
Good one Russ.
But I agree with Greg completly.

Jun 2 2010 at 9:54pm

Absolutely loved the podcast. I’m kicking myself for not listening sooner.

Huge fan of Epstein as well so I was laughing right off the bat.

The only question I knew off the top of my head was Seth.

As for magazines I loved his answer(s) towards the end on what sells a magazine beyond the tactile aspect. If I read a mag on art, I should walk away feeling inspired to draw, paint, etc. If I read a mag on current events, I should walk away feeling smarter or more informed and a sports mag I should want to go play or watch, or whatever it is that sparks someone’s sports mojo.

Great podcast though. One of my favorites.

David Youngberg
Jun 14 2010 at 3:22pm

I’m astonished he thought the Seth question would be hard; it’s the only one I knew!

Pow was indeed number 4.

Anthony Hopkins did not win for his portrayal of Nixon nor did Frank Langella.

Brando and De Niro did indeed win Oscars, though, as noted, they were for slightly different categories. Also, Brando turned down his Oscar. But neither of these matter based on how Belsky worded the question.

Interestingly enough, Helen Mirren won best female lead in 2006 as Elizabeth II and Judi Dench won best supporting female role in 1998 as Elizabeth I. Also in 1998, Cate Blanchett was nominated for best female lead as Elizabeth I but did not win (Gwyneth Paltrow did). So close.

Jun 15 2010 at 12:25pm

The best I can find for the 4th school is Purdue -MVP’s Drew Brees & Len Dawson; and Pres. Benjamin Harrison was a memeber of their Board of Trustees. Otherwise it’s 3

@ Brendon W. Martin – Julius Peppers (2000 w/ UNC & 2003 w/ Carolina Panthers

Here’s another sports one: 2 NFL Hall of Fame players share the same middle name, who are they and what is the name?

Comments are closed.


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Podcast Episode Highlights
0:36Intro. [Recording date: May 17, 2010.] What is the job of editor of a major American magazine like? Economic pressures? How did you get to where you are? One of the coolest jobs you can have in America. Began in a 5000-watt radio station in Yuma, Arizona. Ends when you are making 40-year-old Mary Tyler Moore jokes to start radio interviews. Started writing professionally at age 16; friend who was 17 was writing for a local paper in St. Louis; saw his byline. He recommended me to the editor of the paper. That's how I paid for college--doing a lot of free-lance writing in St. Louis. Never imagined I could make a full-time living at it. St. Louis never had a particularly strong journalistic ferment. There was the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and other papers--not a hotbed. Went to U. of St. Louis, and then to law school; really didn't like law school. Went to play hockey--Washington University starting hockey team; as soon as season ended, realized that I hated law school. Paid $8000 for a hockey uniform. Casting about; got real estate license. Writing; at party met a quirky fellow, asked me a lot of questions; few days later got a call from the St. Louis Business Journal, which I'd never heard of. Got a call; she described boss and it was the quirky guy; came in; a few months later she called. She offered job--would teach about journalism and about business. Going to pay the princely sum of about $15,000--about 1984. Took the job. Took about two months of reporting on business to realize I was woefully underpaid. Working on a typewriter in 1984; soon had a word processing system. First piece was a profile of an architectural firm, minor but significant hospital and public space architect. Cool that the owner, who was probably about the same age I am now--I'm now 48--cool that I'm 23 and he's giving me all this time. Got to ask questions. I knew nothing about business--my mom was a an obstetrics nurse, my dad was an elementary school teacher; my boss, Ellen Sherberg, said, "Oh, you can learn business on the fly. It's all story-telling and drama." All in the numbers. Turned out to be very true. Business writing is very good training for young journalists: makes you be exact, makes you understand a little bit of math and a little bit of economics, corporate strategy--present in all of society and all journalism. After two years, wanted to leave St. Louis. Didn't occur to me not to go to the owner of the company to say I was leaving and could he help me find a job somewhere else. Mr. Savvy! He of course said, "I like you. You should go work for the Philadelphia or Baltimore Business Journal." Bigger. If I'm going to leave, I want to go to either Chicago or New York. He said, "My friend Rance Crain also publishes Crain Chicago Business--the original city business magazine. Longest answer to a question? Russ: No, all my listeners know that would be Richard Epstein.
8:01The Crains came up with the idea that local newspapers don't do a very good job of covering local business. That was the mix that they launched into. One of the reasons that's true: your story is part of that story. The average newspaper doesn't have many people who know a lot about business; intimidated by going to talk to the local business, even if it's thriving. The businesses they cover are often on the coattails of national businesses, because that kind of gives them their clues and their signifiers. The real business in any town happens at the level of real estate development, small business creation and retail trends. And the culture of how easy it is to get things done at city hall. And health care and government. Still an underserved market, though better served with Crain's. Editor of Crain's New York Business brought me to New York. Almost doubled my salary--though lowered my standard of living. In NY lived in a really crappy apartment--or a fantastic tenement. Cost $756 a month in 1986. They had just started up; brought me in as a copy editor--an obsessive-compulsive, detail-oriented profession; I like talking to people and writing stories. Changed a firm hoping to capitalize on changing prestige to value, to changing value to prestige. Classic moment. They moved me over to cover Wall Street--cool because I had to compete with the NYTimes and the Wall Street Journal--classic business coverage. Did pretty well, had my scoops. Did that for four years. The Crains taught me a couple of things that were important to me in my life. One, small, was at the time we wrote some negative stories about Chemical Bank, one of the big money centers before it got acquired by Chase; and also was one of the big mid-market lenders. As you could imagine, they were big advertisers in Crain's. They were good stories; Chemical Bank tried to pull them, and after we ran them, they said they were not going to do our advertising. Rance Crain came to the office; I thought we were going to be in trouble. He said, "No, no, no. Don't worry about it. If you guys keep doing this kind of journalism, they're going to have to come back. Taught me an important lesson: if you make the product well, even the people you are offending will have to be back eventually. Also, he believed sometimes we should indulge our own curiosity and the time we devote to any particular story. Crain used to let people do long investigative pieces. Let me spend six months exploring what at the time was the greatest fraud in Wall Street history, a company called Crazy Eddie--big electronics firm. Their commercials were parodied on Saturday Night Live, biggest IPO at the time. Pretty good story, with Phyllis Furman; won some awards; won the Loeb Award, like the Pulitzer. Phyllis the only person to win it two years in a row; next year on AIDS in the fashion industry. Award got me some attention. Ended up getting a job at Money magazine, part of Time, Inc. Editor at the time was Frank Lalli, was one of the judges at the Award ceremony. Sent him a letter--it was 1990--asking him for advice. Not unaware that it's flattering to be asked for advice. Made me a job offer. I teach at NYU--always call back. He had an interview with 5-6 other people; called back months later and was told he'd gotten the job--Nobody called you? A little less focused on you than you on him. Wrote a book on behavioral economics; co-author, Thomas Gilovich, wrote a paper about something he calls the spotlight effect--we all think people are paying way more attention to us than they are.
17:54Offered me a job at Money magazine, worked there for 8 years; good time for personal finance, stock market still exploding. Lalli was a proponent of two kinds of journalism. One was enterprise journalism, meaning we would come up with ways in which to look at the world: rating the airlines for customer service, which nobody had done yet; best places to live in America now. The other thing was advocative journalism: he saw the magazine as the advocates for the middle class. Really rich people were reading the magazine because they had financial advisers, and really poor people weren't reading the magazine because they didn't think of themselves as having enough money to need it. Every story you wrote, you felt you had to be right because people were making decisions because of it--buying insurance, selling stocks, buying mutual funds because of the advice you gave. Frank was also very early on the idea that people who were doing print could also be on TV, so a lot of my job was doing TV appearances as an expert on money, finance, personal finance, economics--most of what I learned I learned from you. Regular gig on Good Morning America, on other shows. Guest spots on Oprah, Hard Copy, Inside Edition--when Jackie O died, I could talk about her estate. When Roseanne Barr was getting divorced, could talk about divorce law. Smart strategy in thinking about the magazine's profile--reputation. Four minutes on Inside Edition and people I went to grade school with would call me up. Lovely world of television--empty but gratifying. Toward 1997, a little bit of a coup at Time, Inc., and some of the editors like Felix Ungar in The Odd Couple were invited to leave. Kept me a little bit because I had all the TV gigs. Starting to write books. One of the first--about behavioral economics: people can have too much information, and the more information you have, the more likely you are to want to make decisions or think you should make decisions with that information. Not very good for people's personal finance to get a magazine that is telling you to sell or buy stocks now. Even though you are running their lives and they are taking all your advice, you are kind of uneasy about that. Dissonance; nervous. Am I doing people the best service? If you put yourself in a mediocre mutual fund and stay there without moving for 20 years, you are almost always better off than if every year you put yourself in last year's best mutual fund, because chasing returns ends up being a fool's game. But you can't write a magazine that says stay the course. Keep that same mutual fund; you are doing fine! People don't want to pay for that. Started asking around. ESPN was launching a magazine to compete with Sports Illustrated. A couple of friends had gone there. Had never thought to be a sports journalist. Had written a couple of pieces for Sports Illustrated because that was someplace you wanted your stuff to show up. Doing a lot of very good feature writing. Called, they had a lower position editing job, editing humor and quirky stuff about sports. Got the job.
24:47When the magazine first came out, remember talking to you about it and saying: It's weird looking, hard to read, a lot going on; find myself not finishing the stories; not wanting to start some of the stories. You don't think of a sports magazine as having humor. ESPN distinctive because it's not really a sports magazine. Different things to different people. We take sports seriously because most of our subscribers do; but take sports as part of an entertainment continuum. If you are a 45 year old man going to a blog or website following recruiting for a college, you are probably taking sports a little more seriously than the average person. Sports is part of the entertainment spectrum. Want to replicate the kind of conversations people have when they watch TV in a bar, a living room, a dorm. People rarely watch sports and don't crack jokes. It's the "oh, come on, please" that we want to have in the magazine. Changed over the years because we've been mimicked a lot. Trying to be light and quirky. As a marketing strategy, analogous to Car Talk--radio show where people appear to call in--screened in advance--two Boston-accented guys who are very funny. They do give car advice, but the charm of the show is the humor, not the car advice. The car advice is an excuse to be entertaining, funny. Sports as a vehicle. In pre-interview--at least 40 seconds--you asked about competition. We see ourselves as competitors as much with young men's magazines, websites, TV shows, channels, as we do with conventional sports magazines. End of story when couldn't read the magazine. Launched officially in March of 1998. Russ 43 years old at that point. Talked to Belsky, said it was hard to finish the stories, etc. Belsky said, "Well, actually, Russell, it's not written for you." Written for a different demographic--18 to 34 year old men. Have changed a little bit. Font a little bit bigger; going away from so many things happening on the page. Trying to mimic the Internet at the time. Wired was doing it at the time. Now trying to move away from that--people are coming to magazines because they want a little respite, lean back and read. Even longer stories, mobile devices, literally flip pages.
30:45Talk about what your job is like on a day-to-day basis. Is every day the same? all different? When do you get to work? leave? Get to work around 8:30 or 8; leave around 6:30 or 7; it can be extreme envelope pushing on both sides of that schedule. Like to run office flexibly--want to be a place where parents can work and still thrive. Hours officially 10-6. Let people deal with schedules as they want so long as they don't miss a lot of meetings and get their work in on time. Often doing work at night. Have learned not to email staff at night unless I indicate that they don't need to respond till the next day, or people feel compelled to respond. Often just emailing because I want to get it out of my head; have learned to say they don't have to respond till Monday. Russ: If I were on your staff I'd respond right away because by Monday it would be 800 emails down the chain and I'd never see it! My job now--10% is editing stories. Shouldn't need to be doing that much more. Setting things in motion before things need to be edited. Job increasingly taken up with phone calls, long-term planning, interacting with ESPN, paid website--a lot of meetings, emailing--probably 2 hours a day spent on email. It turns out that if I don't respond to emails till the end of the day, everything turns out fine. If people really need you they actually call you or come into your office. Doing a little better with that. Could spend all day doing that if you weren't careful! Maybe 3 hours a day. Of 300-400 a day, probably about 200 I need to respond to. The job feels different every day; goes quickly every day. Feels varied and fast-paced.
35:50Two sports questions: one of my favorite things in the world is how hard it is to run a restaurant. People who like to eat think they would be good at running a restaurant, which of course there is no relationship or very little. If you are going to be the editor of ESPN The Magazine people think you should know a lot about sports. Two questions: Among your staff, how would you say you rate as a sports fan and knowledgeable sports fan--how much do you care and how much do you know? Second: How much of your day is related to sports? On the level of my own teams, I'm very passionate: a solid A. On sports in general, a solid B+. My staff is probably the same--some A+s, some B-s. Want them to understand fandom. Populated half by people who come up from a traditional sports background and half by people who are or understand fans--other than sports--because it helps you think outside of the box. Mean to be different--do not fetishize sports experience. My avidity is slightly lower than the average on my staff, almost a B+. About 40% of my job is about sports itself. How do we do our travel issue--how do we do a travel issue about sports that's interesting? Story about fans and players on a team cruise; moving a NASCAR team to a different place. Have to know what might be interesting to sports fans to make than work. More or less than you thought? No idea. Fantasy, like being a restaurateur, that it's all about food--but it's also about inventory control, keeping your chef happy, etc. Most of your career is about economics--higher than 40%? Russ: Yes, but highly variable. Higher than 40%. But if you mean thinking deeply about stuff and trying to figure things out, it might be 25-30%, compared to, say, a typical academic that might be more like 50-70%. I do a lot of education, writ large, or try to. I ask you the question because there's a certain glamor about your job--probably not as glamorous as it appears from the outside. Belsky: It's generally pretty cool. It's never tedious. Often very high-pressured, management-oriented--making decisions that affect lots of people, stress of having to manage lots of people and big budgets. Periodically spikes into ecstatic moments of "I can't believe I'm here and getting to do this." Coming up with a story is fun. But being at the ESPYs on the red carpet, going up to Serena Williams and saying, "Hey, we're thinking of having you doing a cover of the body issue" and she says okay. She gives me guff. Announcer says Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, and think he'd be good for the body issue, too. Walked over to him and he said the same thing. Fair amount of traveling to events; but want my editors and writers to go. When St. Louis Cardinals improbably made it to the championship two years ago, my boss, who had been editor of ESPN The Magazine, said if I didn't go to that game I was an idiot. Went; sitting in locker room with a bunch of naked football players was really cool--not because they were naked but because I could be the 12-year old boy I was. Larry Wilson, invented the safety blitz.
43:52Can you talk about the un-fun parts? Not at all specific to ESPN or sports. Dealing with the problems of staff, the kind of ongoing recognition that most of the problems you are dealing with are not work problems but "them" problems. Chemistry doesn't always work out. Function of their life or something going on in their home. The un-fun parts have much less to do with the specifics of my job than the nature of jobs in general. Very little about my job that actually is intrinsically bad. What are those? Frustrating sometimes to deal with agents--very protective of their clients and often over-estimate the importance of their clients in the zeitgeist. There is a level of fandom--heroism of the internet or the keyboard--any number of people with whom you could have perfectly nice conversations with in person, when they are allowed to send emails or comment on the Internet, they allow their id to come out and get extraordinarily nasty. What saves me from this--very Catholic or very Jewish idea--people are actually more mean than we think, and the web allows people's inner thoughts to come out. One of the beauties of social interaction is that we are all capable of perfectly mean thoughts. We just don't do them interactively because we learn to control it. Superego or whatever it's called. The good thing about religion or the good thing about manners or whatever it's called is that it keeps us from being our worst selves. When I read ugliness on the web, I tell myself: this isn't about people being more mean than I thought; this is about people being allowed to be their worst self which is maybe not such a bad thing if it's only there. Can get you very depressed. Once had the experience of reading someone's letter about me by accident when I was 22 or 23; really helpful because it made me realize you never want to read people's minds. It was a girl who really cared about me but not romantically; writing a friend about me, wasn't mean but was honest. We ended up dating and she ended up falling in love with me. You don't want to read people's minds. Speech is a good way to edit--filter.
48:50As in many podcasts, opportunity to mention the works of Hayek: what you are saying is there an emergence of social norms that keep people civilized. What did they call that before Hayek invented them? Don't know. Culture, civilization, civil society. You said something in passing about your staff listening to what readers what. You are part of a large conglomerate. How in that situation do you find out what people want? We do surveys, focus groups, quantitative research, but I do not want all of it to depend on what people tell you they want or will go to. Want to do a magazine in which people sometimes like it for meeting their expectations and hardly ever failing it in a way that's insulting and periodically surprising them in a way that's delightful. Look at our letters, comments in blog posts when we're online. Don't necessarily have to sell page hits. Want to do a mixture of art and science. See that people like being surprised; want to be surprised in ways that surprise them. Want people they trust to give them presents. Delight. How much attention do you pay to circulation? Fair amount, mostly to extent want to see if people are not renewing or canceling at a higher rate than normal. Not immediate. If I started to do the magazine in Sanskrit, people would eventually cancel. How much of your day or month do you get to sit around with your feet up on the desk trying to imagine the delight of something like the body issue? Five minute spurts four or five times a day. Able to transition well. Great staff important. Highly creative job; sure it happens in every job. New sales strategy is also creative. You have ESPN, The Insider, rare on the Internet, struggling to monetize their content. Second or third largest in the world that is not about pornography; Wall Street Journal number one; think we are number two. Thriving magazine. What have you done right? Where is the rest of the world going? I'm the one who says every day: Don't take those four letter ESPN off our magazine. Managed to keep us at the vanguard of print publishing. A little sarcastic. Part of a really good brand. Boss probably not listening though he'd really love the show. We elevate our print version to a level that meets or exceeds the level that entices advertisers. We have remained committed to magazines as a magazine experience. We have iPad and iPhone versions in development, out there. We are making the magazine more luxurious, focusing more on the images, stories, design--magazine-ness. Can't discuss ESPN's finance, but the television part of our company earns much more than the magazine part, orders of orders of magnitude. Maybe 14 million people see the magazine every two weeks. People like having the physical product; like the limiting of choice. The web causes anxiety because people wonder if they are missing something. On any given story about Peyton Manning, that's all you need to know. Doesn't leave you thinking should you follow this or that link. Behavioral economics.
58:25When I was a kid, sporting news, baseball fan, you loved it because of the numbers, the data, the statistics. Today that doesn't sell--can get it free and better on the web. What do you think of yourself as providing that's distinct from that, besides the tactile part? Washington Post sports section. I know exactly what I'm selling: collective ideation of about 120 people who work for me, who have a very specific idea and way of looking at sports that I think is unique and differentiated on multiple levels from anybody else in the sports world. You don't have to go to the movies, either. Part is tactile--dark room, big seats. Tell staff: Be more of who you are and what you'd want to see as a sports fan. It's my job to make this judgment--will at least 10% of our readers like it and will the other 90% not be offended? I love The Economist, but especially their column called Lexington. If I got Lexington in a magazine that otherwise had neo-Nazi propaganda, it would not be worth it. How often do you say no to those creative ideas? Not very often. Don't do it because it's going to offend people. When I turn it down--maybe 5% of the time--it's much more because it's not going to reach the 10%. Packages or ideas that I turn down with my senior management are mostly because I think people won't be interested in it. Standalone World Cup Preview doing unbelievably well. Why? Average American doesn't like soccer. But 40-50 million soccer fans in this country--paying attention to good soccer, in Europe, just not American soccer. Broadcast, cable network pays attention, you can't help but pay attention; and that cable network is ESPN. We have the World Cup. The ones who want to be in the conversation watch that stuff. Sports fans are interested in the nature of sports. Watches because he knows it will be a good game even if he can't understand it. Good play. Is Greece in the World Cup? Almost assuredly know. The Greece-Germany match would be entertaining but I don't think we're going to get one. One of the greatest things of all time is on YouTube--Monty Python philosopher soccer match.
1:05:40Magic of pseudo-radio--you can say no to this question. Those listening probably have realized that Gary and I have known each other for a long time. He's been a glorious and helpful editor to me for my books. Card tricks. Talk about some of your favorite trivia questions--could be sports. We can leave them unanswered or answer them on the web. Should mention that you are the co-author of the ESPN Sports Uncyclopedia. The 23 ways to get to first base--trivia questions. Philosophy: the best trivia questions do one of two things and in some ways both. Makes you happy that you now know it or makes you think, Darn, I should have known it. You don't care what the name of Felix and Oscar's neighbor may be in The Odd Couple, but you might find it cool to know what the Professor's real name was on Gilligan's Island. Iconic character. First episode of the show talked about it. Contradiction: a meaningful trivia question. A couple of great ones: in category of Awards: The Nobel Peace Prize has been given out every year since it was founded except for one year. What was the year and why? or could tell you the year and ask why? It was not given out in 1948. Why? Greatest movie question of all time: There is one role and only one role for which two people have received an Oscar. Like Cate Blanchett and Katharine Hepburn both nominated for playing the queen--as an example. Third one: In the 1950s there was a fourth Rice Krispies elf: Snap, Crackle, Pop, and Blake. Hint: It bespoke the cereal's vitamin content. Second favorite food one, won't share it right now. Nephew, writer on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, gave him a question: Western canon, Western literature: After Cain killed Abel, Adam and Eve, as many parents do, had a replacement child. What is the name of the child? In Millionaire they give you four choices. Good Presidential, sports one: There are I believe four universities that have produced both a President of the United States and a Super Bowl MVP. At least three. What are they?