Commentary: 2023 Year In Review—In Review

Commentary: 2023 Year In Review—In Review

Familiarity really does breed contempt, as least in our small corner of the print media world. Case in point, the 2023 Speed On The Water Year In Review print edition, the ninth such issue my partner Jason Johnson and I have produced. By the time we got the oversized, 196-page coffee-table magazine ready to the print—a tall order between the two of us despite our collective 55-plus years of publishing experience—we despised it.

The Princeton University team’s electric-boat speed record accomplishment (upper right corner) was a shoe-in for “Best Of” section in the 2023 Speed On The Water Year In Review print magazine.

That happens every year to some degree, of course, but for a bunch of professional and personal reasons this year’s Year In Review production cycle was the toughest one yet. It got to the point where we weren’t sure if the magazine measured up to our last eight efforts.

And, OK, what the hell, to be unflinchingly honest? I’m not sure we cared all that much by the end of the production process. Sometimes, you simply have to accept that you did the best you could with the time and resources you had and let go.

But then the reviews started coming in. They came from a variety of sources, including readers, advertisers and fellow media pros we respect. But that they offered the same general take.

This is the best Year In Review issue you guys have done yet.

We’re still not sure we believe that, but we’re bright enough not to argue.

Perhaps the coolest review of all reached Johnson via text from Andrew Robbins of the electric boat, kilometer-speed-record-setting student team from Princeton University.

“Our feature turned out great and the rest of the magazine is stunning,” Robbins wrote. “You did a killer job this year.

“I’ve been reading this magazine for at least the past five years, although likely more,” he continued. “My dad would always get them while I was in high school. It’s incredible to now be featured in it.”

With its 114-mph kilometer speed record for an electric boat, the Princeton University engineering department team of students earned a place in powerboating history—and a spot in the Speed On The Water 2023 Year In Review print magazine. Photo by Bobby Diaz

So maybe the extra stress this year was worth it, maybe the issue is better than we thought, I told Johnson after he shared Robbins’ message.

“I’ve definitely spent some time getting to know Andrew over the past year and can’t wait to see what he does after college,” Johnson responded. “He’s already made significant strides in his two years at Princeton. It’s cool to see the kids who grew up reading entering the adult world with a passion for performance boating that was instilled in them by their parents and grandparents.”

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