Basically, "Otaku" is a Japanese word that refers to people who are obsessive fans of a brand, product or subject. These are the nerds. These are the die-hards. These are the people who are in line at midnight for the release of the Harry Potter book. The ones following the Mac conferences on Twitter.
For the longest time, newspapers have avoided this group. Newspapers are, were, mass media. Mass media is designed to appeal to the largest possible audience. When I would write game stories, I knew that die-hard fans were reading them, but I also kept in mind that I had to keep things simple enough that the person down the street who picked up the paper and may not follow the team would understand the previous night's game.
But with all the changes and all the struggles of the newspaper industry, what if journalists started turning this practice around. What if they took Godin's advice: Market to the geeks, the people who intensely care about what you have to say.
What is the otaku of the sports pages? The die-hard fans. The ones who know every player, every hometown. The ones who know the pitching rotation as well as the pitching coach, who can name the back-up right guard. These are the people who care. These are the people who have a voracious, insatiable appetite for news and information about their favorite teams.
What if sports journalists began focusing on writing, reporting, editing for these people, rather than the casual fan?
This is a crazy idea. It's probably been written about a hundred places I haven't seen. It's probably a terrible idea. But it's an idea.
I don't mean to ignore the casual fan. But they can get the final score and the headlines easy enough - in fact, you can still provide them with that information. But what if sports coverage was geared toward the people who cared the most about the teams a newspaper covers? What if our focus became creating the kind of content and providing the information that the die-hard fan wants and needs? This doesn't mean being a team cheerleader. Fans don't have to agree with you, or like you all the time. What matters is if they view you as an indispensable source of news and knowledge.
Will this "save journalism?" Probably not. There isn't big money in catering to the nerds (except if you're Apple). Focusing on the edges comes at the expense of the middle, the casual fans, the readers who don't know who the starting right guard is. But maybe the saving journalism question is the wrong one to ask in this case. Maybe, instead of saving journalism, we should be focusing on reinventing it.
What's everyone else think?