During my former life covering sports, a lumpy editor with a walrus-like mustache padded up to me one day in 1985 and revealed that he'd just taken a plum writing job at a company called Trintex.

Surprised that he wasn't going to a rival paper or magazine, I asked him exactly what it was that this company did.

He explained that they provided a subscription service accessible through home computers where you could write copy and, via a modem, your prose could be seen on user screens. In his case, game scores and truncated sports features.

My first thought was who would want to get their news and sports that way? I thought then, as I still do now, that holding a newspaper or magazine gave a reader a feeling of tactile assurance.

Nevertheless, I made my usual accurate prediction of the future, saying the company would disappear within a year and that nothing would replace the traditional print product.

For once, I was right with my prognostications.

Sort of.

The company did disappear. The only problem was that the concern was later resurrected as an entity called Prodigy and, well, you can guess the rest.

Two decades later, I find myself spending on the order of $200 per year for online content from various news URLs and just recently, the New York Times began charging an annual online readership fee of $49.99 to access its columnists. Without mentioning select Times scribes by name, to me that's rather like paying porterhouse prices for ground chuck.

Nevertheless, online strategies -- following what could politely be termed growing pains -- have infiltrated and become a marquee strategy of nearly every print medium.

Including ours.

Accounting Today's first non-print incarnation came exactly 10 years ago under the banner of The Electronic Accountant. The product was initially packaged as a CD-ROM (remember those?), before going online about a year later.

The site has since undergone several design changes and improvements, while being rechristened WebCPA. For those regular users, you know the site features online editions of all publications under the Accountants Media Group banner in addition to the recently unveiled interactive trade show exhibit hall.

Still, while it's impossible not to acknowledge the convenience or yield to the inevitability of online, I remain a cynic.

From a document management standpoint, an online strategy does wonders to eradicate the unkempt stereotype of the typical editor's desk, cluttered with stacks of past issues and books that were heretofore strewn in an organizational matrix familiar only to its owner.

And I'm deluged with periodic online statistics from various research concerns showing everything from increased reader usage to the explosive growth potential of online advertising.

So from a purely bottom-line stance, I can't stand in the way of evolution.

But first, get me rewrite!


With regards to online, I guess I am rewrite.

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