As someone recently let go (or cut loose, canned, axed, excised, shown the door, pushed out, shoved out, put out …) as part of staff cuts at a newspaper, I had a certain interest in reading the SportsBusiness Journal‘s well-executed piece about decreasing newspaper sports staffs and coverage. But this is a topic that should resonate with any thinking sports fan.
The coverage is shrinking. Now, if we’re talking about updates on Brett Favre, sure, there is still plenty out there. But you’re not getting as much about your local teams. As newspapers slice budgets and staff, fewer reporters and columnists cover the teams. Some papers are pooling resources with what used to be competitors and sharing coverage. Others are not covering teams on the road, relying on wire service reports.
To fill the information gap, more fans are getting their news directly from the teams themselves via club Web sites. According to a survey with the Journal story, though a majority still receive their team news from a newspaper either via print or online, nearly half the fans polled — 42 percent — said the team Web site was their preferred source of information.
The problem — or potential problem — is those sites ultimately are in the hands of the clubs, and, whether they choose to do so or not, the teams can control the message. You can argue whether the beat reporter or columnist for the local daily is objective, but at least you know the club owner isn’t signing his paychecks.
Though if Steve Bisciotti or Peter Angelos wants to put me on his payroll, guys, you know where to reach me.