The first history of first number from Illustrated Sports-Aug. 16, 1954 – I was on the Miracle Mile, a showdown between Roger Bannister and John Landy, then the only two humans to have run a mile in less than four minutes. Both runners broke again at 4:00. Bannister came from behind on the last lap and won it by a hair. And inside the story, the magazine published a photo of the couple chatting on the track moments after crossing the finish line. Right behind them in the photo, occupying a space generally reserved for athletes and coaches and other types of insider information, is a man in a jacket and tie, unattended by athletes, drenched from the scene and the conversation.
Talk about being a fly on the wall of history. That man was Bob Schulman, one of two writers who covered the event for Illustrated SportsAnd while she no doubt thought she was just doing her job, she was blazing a trail that YES has been following ever since. To this day, we bring our audience deeper into the game and closer to the biggest names in the sport than anyone else. We tell distinctive stories that can be found here and only here. Pick any SI writer, photographer, videographer, or podcaster, and you’ll see you’ve spent a career looking for ways to get more into the ropes than the competition. We’ve been doing it since 1954. There is photographic evidence.
Schulman had no idea that in 2021 we would be working 24/7, on his phone, online, on videos, tweets, posts, and podcasts, as well as a magazine. But one thing has not changed. No matter how you tell a story, getting one that stands out in a crowded media landscape is difficult. Over the decades, we have supported our journalism in two ways: with print and digital advertising, and thanks to an extremely loyal audience of magazine subscribers that still numbers nearly two million people. Now, with today’s introduction of a metered paywall on SI.com, we are creating a new path to ensure SI’s continued growth and excellence.
SI.com, which drew its biggest monthly audience in January, launched in 1997. So why a paywall now? Because the Internet has changed, and savvy media consumers know that quality digital content worth their time is also worth your support. Because a model based solely on advertising exposes our storytelling capabilities to market forces that we cannot control. And because we want to build the kind of connection, loyalty, and trust with our digital audience that we’ve had for a long time with the magazine.
Is that how it works. Each SI.com visitor will have an allowance of free articles per month; after that you will be asked to subscribe to unlock unlimited access to the daily cover and the rest of our stories, videos, podcasts and premium photos. You will also have full access to the SI Vault, our magazine archive dating back to the first issue. Additionally, subscribers get early access to magazine stories each month, a newsletter with personalized features, exclusive content from the best sports journalists in the industry, and audio versions of selected magazine stories. Breaking news posts; content from FanNation, our network of team-specific sites; and the SI Swimsuit poles are not measured.
In a 1954 note to readers, the first SI editor outlined the goals of his new media brand. “A big part of our obligation … is to get the action right after the fact,” he wrote. “[We’ll bring] be as close to that action as possible, wherever in the world it takes place. “We have come a long way since then, but the vision still holds, and it has value in a world where digital information is abundant, but quality, reliable and premium storytelling is not. We thank you for reading and visiting, and if you are not a subscriber we encourage you to do so. Let’s run this race together for a long time.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.