Bernie Lincicome is back in town, hoping to write something for somebody. I suggest he write for his generation. One voice is missing from new media — the voice of the old sage who thinks new media is ridiculous.
After 16 years as a sports columnist in Chicago, Lincicome and the Tribune parted ways in 2000 and he took his talents to Denver. Lincicome wrote a column for the Rocky Mountain News until that paper folded last February. Then he blogged.
"When I started doing it," he says, "everybody said 'Oh, great, we can still find you.' I asked them, 'Are you going to pay me?' I could never figure out a way to get them to pay for it."
This, in the view of Lincicome — and many another senior journalist put out to pasture — constitutes a serious deficiency in new media. But he pressed on. Writers must write.
"I did what I do," says Lincicome, inviting me to read it all myself, as his fitful blog will linger in the digital firmament forever — like a dead star. "Some of it's pretty good, some of it's not. But it's pretty much what I always did, with the exception that nobody paid me to do it. I twitter. I don't know how many followers I have, more than I expected, a couple hundred. It's whenever I think of something clever I put it in there. Again, who knows if it lands anywhere. It was the same thing with the blog. Maybe 300 to a couple thousand people read it depending on the topic -- but jeez, I used to have half a million and I used to get money for it."
Lincicome has never been more eloquent than when he contemplated writing in a medium he did not believe in. Introducing his blog, he called the blogosphere "a place that exists only in fancy rather than in fact, much the same as Camelot, but without the honor."
But there he was, now part of it.
"I should have a fresh appreciation for bloggers, but I do not yet," he admitted on his blog. "Every word typed is as closely considered as ever, every original thought is as savored, every sentence as well crafted as talent allows.
"Yet, to be self-published still seems to be unnoticed, to imagine notice is to be self-deluded.
"This is not the game. This is just calisthenics."
As time went on, his view of blogging did not change. It struck him as delusional. His last blog post was written in September, and alongside it was his "thought of the day," this:
In the movie "Julie and Julia" the character's food blog did not become legitimate until a story about it appeared in a newspaper. It takes newspapers to authenticate anything, so if newspapers would just ignore blogs, there would be no more blogs, including this one."
Lincicome explains to me why he abandoned his blog. "It was like I was snoring in an empty room. Even I couldn't hear the noise."
This month Lincicome and his wife Jaye moved into a house they've bought in Glencoe. They want to be around to watch their 15-month-old grandson grow up. "The grandson is why we returned to the area," Lincicome says. "Glencoe is because we'd been there 16 years. We know our way around. We know where the Renaissance theater is in Highland Park. Everything that makes your life the way it is we're already familiar with."
Lincicome is old enough to retire, and he says he doesn't need money. But he's told the Sun-Times and Tribune he's available. "I talked to both papers about bringing them wit and insight, and neither one threw me out. Maybe I'm kidding myself, but they didn't tell me to crap in my hat."
He's offering himself in what could be called emeritus status — possibly one column a week and some Internet writing. "I can live with that," says Lincicome. "I'm tired of being irrelevant."
If you ask me, Lincicome's outgrown sports. The day irrelevant Americans find their voice and raise it is the day they start to matter again — if just a little. Could Lincicome be that voice? I'm just sayin'...