Sci Fi Wire, the online news arm of the SyFy Channel [still cringes at new name], has canceled their weekly written columns. This includes long-running and well-respected series from John Clute, Wil McCarthy, and Michael Cassutt, who have been asked to remain as contributors in “other ways”. The reason given for this decision is that columns are considered an antiquated form of communication from the days of print.
I say hooey. Mostly because I like saying hooey, but also because I suspect it’s more a matter of money.
This is all conjecture – I have absolutely no idea of how SciFi Wire generates money for the SyFy Channel nor pays its writers – but I’m guessing that the columns are paid at a per-word rate. This means that the average column probably costs them more than the average article. Recall that earlier this year, along with the channel image change, SciFi Wire switched from being a weekly magazine to daily bog format. So your average article is either an extended news blurb or a list post.
I applauded SyFy Channel for SciFi Wire’s format change. It was a great way to update the site. Even so — and call me silly — I liked the SciFi Wire columns. They were a bright spot in what can be seen as yet another cookie-cutter sf blog. [Studiously avoids looking at self.] It’s the same way I enjoy the columns at AMC TV’s SciFi Scanner written by John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Sigler and others. They provide something more personal, something extra.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll miss ’em.
What do you think? Are online columns an unfortunate holdover from the days of print? Or, is there still a place for them today?