Over the last ten months I’ve mentioned in this space numerous statistics on job losses and general cutbacks in the newspaper industry. As sites like Newspaper Death Watch continue to gain traction, and papers nationwide continue to scale back their sports operations and travel budgets, it’s important to get a feel for where the industry is for the people in the trenches, past and present.
I interviewed former Newsday Yankees beat writer Kat O’Brien on this topic three months ago and she revealed that one of the reasons she left was because she didn’t believe the medium was viable anymore.
Former longtime Yankees beat man and YESNetwork.com colleague Phil Pepe agreed, but limited his answer more specifically to baseball coverage.
“This is a problem that has been ongoing for a few years and seemed to have escalated during the current economic crisis,” he said. “Sad to admit it, but today because of the blanket coverage from radio, television and the Internet, newspapers are not as vital to the game’s well-being as they once were.”
With all that in mind, I still couldn’t help thinking that additional opinions needed to be sought. So I took the the e-mails and queried New York Times Yankees beat reporter Tyler Kepner, Gertrude Ederle biographer and editor of the Greatest American Sports Writing Series, Glenn Stout, Kansas City Star columnist and uber-blogger Joe Posnanski, Pepe and another of my ex-YES men, Al Iannazzone, who covers the New Jersey Nets for The Bergen Record.
As you’ll see, I asked each writer the same basic set of questions, including one standout from Banterer YankeeMama. The e-mails were exchanged over the course of several days in late April, hence the reason some of the material in the answers may seem dated.
I was impressed with everyone’s candor and genuine love for the craft of writing, and newspapers’ place — even now — as an outlet for that voice. Each recognized how technology has influenced the industry, and how a happy medium must be forged for bloggers, beat writers, newspapers and e-media to coexist. Money matters, however, skew the discussion.
On the topic of travel, Iannazzone said, “It’s mostly West Coast games because you’re not going to get them in the paper anyway. So it’s a way to save money wisely, I guess.” There were certain elements of the conversation that due to the sensitivity of the issue, Iannazzone would not divulge, but he did offer this nugget: “I know I traveled less this year than in my five years on the Nets.”
The individual Q&A’s are highlighted below: