The end of the daily

This column is changing its skin, so it's not goodbye, just thank you.

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It’s with only a little sadness that I inform you, dear readers, that King Kaufman’s Sports Daily as we know it is coming to an end.

Oh, the column will continue. You won’t be rid of me that easily. But times being what they are, I’ve been asked to be a columnist slash editor. The good news is I won’t have to wash the boss’s car anymore. The bad news is I must now wear pants when I type.

Also, the column will appear less than daily. The new regime begins after an NFL Week 13 preview Wednesday, then Thanksgiving and another of the short vacations that has readers wondering why this thing was ever called “daily” in the first place. They’re called comp days, people. I work a lot of weekends. I’ll be back for a Week 14 preview next Friday.

In some ways this is a return to this column’s roots. It was born during the 2002 Winter Olympics, when David Talbot, Salon’s founder and then-editor, said, “You stink at everything else, so how about writing about sports all the time?” Well, he didn’t say that first part but I think everyone knew what he meant. I began writing about sports a few times a week. About a year later the column went daily at my urging. Now it’s going back.

So while this isn’t goodbye, it is a change, and with Thanksgiving coming up as well it seems like a good time to say thank you. To you, I mean.

Over the time I’ve been lucky enough to have what more than one colleague has told me was the best job in American journalism, I’ve been even more lucky to have what must be the best readership in American journalism.

That’d be you. Your half of the conversation is something I’ve enjoyed immensely and appreciated. I like to say I’ve got the world’s best editor, a readership that catches grammatical errors within microseconds of the column publishing, that points out faulty logic and lazy thinking even faster than that.

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For the last few years, Salon has been automatically publishing every reader comment that comes in. We used to have a traditional, edited “Letters to the Editor” section. I began suggesting that we run a raw letters feed years before we did it — years before it was technically feasible, for all I know — because my e-mail in box was without fail the most interesting thing I read all day.

Thank you all for all of that, and for all of the kind words. Not everybody likes what I do, nor should they, but the ratio of positive to negative feedback, especially given the overall tenor of Interweb conversation, has been off the charts, out of this world, over the top.

See, as an editor, I’m not going to put up with that kind of writing.

There have been times during the last six years when I’ve considered giving up the column. A daily column is a grind, even one that’s about a fun subject like sports. I like to tell this story: The wife was taking a college class for fun a few years ago and one night she complained mildly that she had a five-page paper due soon. I said, “I have a five-page paper due every day.”

It gets harder every year. The calendar comes around again and the same things keep happening. Every once in a while I get a hot idea for a column, write about half of it, then discover, during a Google search on the subject, that I’d written the exact same column four years earlier. How many different ways can one person say, “Please point the camera at the ball!”?

So while I’m a little sad to give up this old friend, this daily companion of the last five years, I’m also looking forward to getting off the treadmill, getting a little brain space back. When you have a daily column, your mind is always churning away on it at some level. That’s why the periodic short vacations, usually after major championships: Every once in a while, I’ve needed to hose down the old cerebral cortex and start again.

I’m hoping the new schedule will obviate the need for that sort of thing. Without the gaping maw of the daily deadline needing to be fed, I’m planning to not start writing until I’m sure I have something to say.

I’m looking forward to nights and weekends without that deadline looming. I understand I have kids who are not just literary devices used to make a point about “expert” predictions.

I hope you’ll stick with me as this column and Salon itself evolve. Let’s not lie to each other. This change and others you might have noticed around Salon are a result of bad economic times. But that doesn’t mean the new way of doing things might not be better.

We’ll figure out this new conversation together if you’ll come along. If not, if this is the last time we talk, then so long, good luck and, most of all: Thank you.

King Kaufman is a senior writer for Salon. You can e-mail him at king at salon dot com. Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr

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