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This is my idea of a wanton weekend. Old-fashioned journalism and new-fashioned technology just jumped into the sack together, and the romantic in me is delighted. There are audacious things that need to be done for the joy of doing them.
On Friday the editors of 48 Hour, which is — or soon will be — a magazine, announced the theme of their first issue: Hustle. Contributors — and anyone who heard what they were up to and got on their email list was a potential contributor — had 24 hours to cook up a submission and send it in. It could be an article, a short story, a casual, a photo spread... The ad hoc editorial staff of 30 to 40 people, gathered at the Mother Jones offices in San Francisco, gave themselves another 24 hours to make their choices, lay everything out, and send the pages to MagCloud, a print-on-demand shop. In a few days the magazine will be ready to order, at a cost that hasn't been set but should be around 10 or 11 dollars. It will also be posted on line.
Here's an overview of the project from the Wall Street Journal blog Digits. It seems the editors emailed 5,000 people, expected 500 submissions back and received 1,500, got almost no sleep, but delivered a 60-page edition to MagCloud on Sunday.
One of the project's exhausted "core editors." Mathew Honan, a contributing editor at Wired, kept apologizing to Digits for being “a little incoherent.” He said, “I’m sure there will be typos and things like that, that wouldn’t be in a magazine that you have a month to produce, but I hope that’s kind of part of the fun and is charming.” Though on second thought, “Maybe not.”
Typos are never charming and I hope 48 Hour has a low tolerance for them. Typos would undermine the case I'm hoping 48 Hour is able to make — which is that when spontaneity meets professionalism in the digital age, both can glow with pleasure. They've always had an uneasy relationship in journalism — neither has ever really trusted the other. Time to bury that hatchet.
Here's the 48 Hour site. They're promising a second issue. "We see a lot of untapped potential in this experiment and you're going to help us reach it. After we sleep," say the editors. And here's a link to the 48 Hour blog, where you'll find a list of contributors to the first issue and tips on how to get from not even knowing what the assignment is to turning in publishable copy in a day.