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American magazine editor
Daniel Okrent (born April 2, 1948) is an American writer and editor. He is best known for having served as the first public editor of The New York Times newspaper, inventing Rotisserie League Baseball, and for writing several books (such as Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which served as a major source for the 2011 Ken Burns/Lynn Novick miniseries Prohibition). In November 2011, Last Call won the Albert J. Beveridge prize, awarded by the American Historical Association to the year's best book of American history. His most recent book, published May 2019, is The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America.
He formulated what has become known as "Okrent's law" in an interview comment he made about his new job. It states: "The pursuit of balance can create imbalance because sometimes something is true", referring to the phenomenon of the press providing legitimacy to unsupported fringe viewpoints in an effort to appear even-handed.
Okrent invented Rotisserie League Baseball, the best-known form of fantasy baseball, in 1979. The name comes from the fact that he proposed the idea to his friends while dining at La Rôtisserie Française restaurant in New York City. Okrent's team in the Rotisserie League was called the "Okrent Fenokees", a pun on the Okefenokee Swamp. He was one of the first two people inducted into the Fantasy Sports Hall of Fame. Okrent was still playing Rotisserie as of 2009 under the team name Dan Druffs. Despite having been credited with inventing fantasy baseball he has never been able to win a Rotisserie League. His exploits of inventing Rotisserie League Baseball were chronicled in Silly Little Game, part of the ESPN30 for 30 documentary series, in 2010.
Okrent is also credited with inventing the baseball stat, WHIP. At the time he referred to it as IPRAT, signifying "Innings Pitched Ratio".
In May 1981, Okrent wrote and Sports Illustrated published "He Does It by the Numbers". This profile of the then-unknown Bill James launched James's career as baseball's foremost analyst.
In 1994, Okrent was filmed for his in-depth knowledge of baseball history for the Ken Burns documentary Baseball. During the nine-part series, a red-sweater-wearing Okrent delivered a detailed analysis of the cultural aspects of the national pastime, including a comparison of the dramatic Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds to the conflict and character development in Russian novels.
The death of print
In the late 1990s, as editor of new media at Time Inc., Okrent wrote about the future of magazine publishing. He believed that the advancement of digital technologies would make it easier for people to read newspapers, magazines and books online. In late 1999, Okrent made a prediction about the future of print media in the Hearst New Media Lecture at the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University. He told his audience:
I believe they, and all forms of print, are dead. Finished. Over. Perhaps not in my professional lifetime, but certainly in that of the youngest people in this room. Remove the question mark from the title of this talk. The Death of Print, full stop.