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January 10, 2017 | Issue 61
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ekiden
GGTC Squad
Storm troopers. | San Francisco, California

Good morning! I’ve got a smorgasbord of interestingness and inspiration to share with you this week, so let’s dive right into it. Enjoy!

Let’s go long.

A few issues ago, I mentioned publishing exclusive longform interviews with runners, writers and others folks who have unique and interesting perspectives to share. I’m thrilled to finally launch the initial entry in that series and reveal it first to you, loyal readers of the morning shakeout. For the first installment of “Going Long” (working title, let me know what you think), I caught up with Ed Caesar, author of the book Two Hours. We spoke at length about Nike’s Breaking2 project, how he’ll be covering it, along with the current state of marathon running as a professional sport. We also discussed Ed’s own evolving relationship with running and training, how it’s affected his writing, the parallels that exist between the two disciplines, and much more. Check it out right here. I quite enjoy Ed’s take on the sport, even if we don’t always see eye to eye, and I look forward to following his dispatches for wired.com in the coming months. “You’re just baking a big cake, and there’s lots of ingredients,” says Caesar on the parallels between writing a big story and training for an important race. “You’ll make sure that all of your ingredients are right and all of the processes are right. For me, with a big story, you need to have checked all the boxes. Otherwise, people are going to say, ‘Well, why did you think about that, or why didn’t you write about that?’ It’s the same with running. You need your speed right. You also need to have done the right amount of miles and need to have eaten right. You need to think about all these things that go into it.”

Three stripes, you’re out. 

If you’re not responsible for one of the nearly 10 million views of this emotional, inspiring spec ad that adidas silently wishes they had acquired from German film student Eugen Merher, please take a minute to watch it and add to the impressive total. Then read this interview wth Merher to get some insight on how he turned his idea into a reality and produced the 90-second spot. “The company did get back to me after we emailed them,” Merher revealed. “They said that they didn't support the work because they get lots of these kinds of requests, they already have their agencies, and they don't really need it. I'm not sure if they even watched it, but we sent an email before production and afterward.”

Ignorance bleeds from the top. 

In this United States, our president-elect does not believe it’s necessary to receive daily security briefings from intelligence officials. Elsewhere in global governance, the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations does not feel that opening email attachments concerning ethics violations within his sport is relevant to his position. “You may think this shows a lack of curiosity,” IAAF communications director Jackie Brock-Doyle said. “He, and we, would argue that it shows a full duty of care – ensuring the right people in the right place were aware of allegations and were investigating them.” It’s important to not that both of these bozos were elected into their respective offices. The similarities in how these two men operate scares the shit out of me and makes me worried for the future of my country, and sport.

The broken system without a fix. 

Medium announced a bunch of layoffs last week along with a refocused, but to this point undefined, revenue model. The reason behind the changes? The platform isn’t making much money selling ads around its content and wants to go in a different direction to reward writers and other creators. “It’s clear that the broken system is ad-driven media on the internet. It simply doesn’t serve people,” Williams wrote in his blog post. “In fact, it’s not designed to. The vast majority of articles, videos, and other ‘content’ we all consume on a daily basis is paid for — directly or indirectly — by corporations who are funding it in order to advance their goals. And it is measured, amplified, and rewarded based on its ability to do that. Period. As a result, we get…well, what we get. And it’s getting worse.” While I don’t necessarily disagree that the ad-driven media on the web is broken—heck, go to just about any website these days and you get slapped in the face with a screen-sized pop-up ad, another one that sneaks up from the bottom of the screen, and at least half a dozen blinking banners that further obstruct your reading experience—I also don’t think all advertising is a bad thing thing for readers who might be interested in a product or service being presented to them, publishers who need to generate revenue to keep the ship afloat and put food on the table, or the brands that pay for exposure and support it all. Admittedly, I’m biased in my stance as I sell advertising in the form of an exclusive monthly sponsorship to keep the morning shakeout alive and justify the absurd amounts of time I spent working on it. Yes, I’m helping brands like Tracksmith and ekiden “advance their goals” but they’re also helping me advance mine, and what’s so wrong with that? As an independent publisher, my main goal in regard to sponsorship is to be respectful to my readers and only present advertisements for products, services and events that I believe in and might be of interest to you. I also aim to do so in such a way that doesn’t compromise your reading experience with a bunch of irrelevant banner ads. That’s why I’ve made them exclusive. This last bit also provides a layer of added value to the advertiser who doesn’t have to compete against a bunch of other brands for your eyeballs and attention. Will this revenue model based around advertising continue to work for me? Time will tell, but I think it has the greatest potential to succeed with a highly engaged audience like the morning shakeout’s and advertisers who see the value in supporting such a publication. But if sponsorship doesn’t continue to pay the bills, I’ll explore other options to generate revenue, including selling products, offering subscriptions to exclusive content, or some combination of the three. Heck, I might try them out anyway. I imagine Medium will go in one of these directions and I’m curious to see how they apply this new revenue model across such a vast network of publishers and areas of interest.

Listen up

I caught a couple good podcasts this past week which I suggest adding to your listening list:

Marathon Talk with Jack Daniels. I had the good fortune to attend a Daniels-led coaching clinic last fall in the Bay Area and it was an awesome way to spend a Saturday. My college coach, Karen Boen, was a huge Daniels disciple and my copy of his book, Daniels Running Formula, is dogeared to hell and full of chicken scratch I can barely make out anymore. Anyway, Daniels was a recent guest on the Marathon Talk with Martin Yelling and Tom Williams and is a must-listen for any coach or aspiring coach. “The problem with specific coaching theories is that a specific theory may work with one person and not with another,” Daniels says. “There are basic things that will work with everyone, obviously, but even athlete that you coach has to be treated as an individual. We’re not the same.”

Longform with Terry Gross. “I think the days of mass, mass media are probably over,” Gross, host and co-executive producer of Fresh Air, says. “Everyone was watching the same shows at the same time because there was no other choice. And you watched shows you hated just because there was nothing else on and you had to watch something on TV, because you had to watch something. Same thing with radio. There were a few rock ’n’ roll radio stations and you listened to them and maybe you switched back and forth but that was it. And there’s so many choices now, in everything, in books and music and records and film and podcasts and radio. It’s great for variety but I feel like mass media used to be thing, pop culture used to be the thing that brought us together, and it doesn't anymore because we’re all on our own little separate wavelengths with that, we’re all listening to our own podcasts on our own schedule, streaming on our own schedule, binging on our own schedule.”

That’s it for Issue 61. What did you think of the Ed Caesar interview? Do you like the longform text format? Share your thoughts with me on this and whatever else may have tickled your fancy by replying directly to this email or giving me a shout on Twitter

Thanks for reading, 

Mario

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