• The Future Of Media?

    Posted by on March 6th, 2010 · Comments (12)

    First, by way of quick introduction, I’ll endeavor to have most of my posts relate more directly to the Yankees.

    With that out of the way, you may or may not have seen this elsewhere – notably ESPN’s Page2 or Deadspin but it is an interesting look at how the other half lives.

    Most of you, I assume, are from outside the Washington, D.C. metro area so you probably don’t know that the venerable Washington Times sports section was unceremoniously killed just before the new year began.

    Politics aside, and mine certainly don’t match up with the rest of the paper, the sports section was fabulous and in many respects, far superior to the more famous Washington Post.

    In fact, the longest tenured beat writer for the woe begotten Washington Nationals is Mark Zuckerman. When Zuckerman lost his ride, he started blogging, and a little bit into the experiment, he decided he needed to go to Spring Training.

    Long story short, he essentially put out a can and started a fund drive raising the $5,000 he needed for the trip in about 24 hours.

    All this build up is to get to a point and a question.

    First, New York sports fans – particularly Yankee fans -are incredibly spoiled when it comes to media. We have three tabloids, three daily papers, the team’s Web site and a cable network to feed our insatiable need for information, for feature pieces, for puff, for grist for the blogging mill.

    I don’t know how long this situation is sustainable. Newsday has already begun putting things for out-of-towners. The Journal News only covers the Yankees with a full-time traveling beat writer, cutting back on coverage for New York’s other professional teams. Newspapers all over continue to struggle to balance the costs of good coverage and the seeming unwillingness of the public to pay for something they’ve always gotten for “free,” that is to say, solid beat coverage on the Internet.

    In fact, with blogs, Twitter and other mediums, the paper is becoming less and less centric to a beat writer’s job. In the Washington area, the previous beat writer for the Post referred the paper as the “dead tree edition,” which is fairly symbolic when you think about it.

    So with that as a backdrop, here’s the question: Who would you pay to read, and how much?

    Zuckerman got anywhere from $20 to $60 and provides personal service – asks questions his benefactors want, provides them with raw audio from interviews and other perks. ESPN’s piece I think accurately refers to him as the first sportswriter by IPO.

    So, is there anyone working the beat at the moment that you’d pay to have as your own personal beat writer?

    Comments on The Future Of Media?

    1. Rich
      March 6th, 2010 | 11:49 pm

      To be honest, I would be more likely to pay for non-sports news, in particular, information that impacts financial and business decisions because it would be more likely to pay for itself.

      With regard to coverage of the Yankees, there is no mainstream beat writer I would pay to read.

      I would, however, be willing to pay SG (and maybe one or two other bloggers) for his commentary and analysis. It’s a lot more insightful than anything that the current beat writers provide.

      That said, there has to be a better way to monetize sports content than having a personal beat writer.

    2. ken
      March 7th, 2010 | 12:52 am

      I would have supported Peter Abraham if he was still on the Yankee beat.

    3. 77yankees
      March 7th, 2010 | 1:35 am

      Generally, no. Feinsand with the News is ok but not worth $. George King is dreadful – why would anyone want to pay for nothing but daily “Dead Bat Society” and Carl “American Idle” Pavano references?

      The tabloid coverage in NY is slanted negative. No win can be enjoyed without dwelling on the flaws, and every loss is treated as gloom and doom.

      Most knowledgable Yankee fans can formulate their own opinion from what we see in the games, rather than having a beat writer or columnist project theirs upon us.

    4. cr1
      March 7th, 2010 | 9:17 am

      There were only two Yankees beat writers that I looked to read last season, even free of charge. Very different in style but by reading both I could find out about as much as was going to be printed in newspapers. One was Tyler Kepner, the other was Peter Abraham. Both have moved on to bigger jobs (Abraham to a better paper, Kepner to a national assignment with his same paper) and both have been replaced by lesser writers. When I subscribed to the actual newsprint version of the Times I guess you could say I did pay to read Kepner, and I suppose you could say that the expense of being on-line means I pay something for the privilege of reading any of these folks, but there is certainly nobody on the beat at present that I would pay even a bit extra to read.

    5. March 7th, 2010 | 9:25 am

      So, I guess this is a bad time to add a PayPal DONATE button to WasWatching.com? ;-)

    6. redbug
      March 7th, 2010 | 10:55 am

      I’d pay to read Sam Borden of the Journal News. I think he was w/ The Daily News, then moved down to Fla and returned to NY a couple of yrs ago. He knows baseball well and writes w/ humor and pathos.

    7. ken
      March 7th, 2010 | 3:27 pm

      S@ Steve Lombardi:

      Steve, it’s worth a try. I’d send something your way.

      And BTW, as much as I like the new web site there is one thing a bit frustrating. If I am viewing a thread, there is no way to navigate to the previous or next (if any) thread. There is a recent post list but it’s not the same.

    8. March 7th, 2010 | 4:49 pm

      Ken – thanks, be on the lookout for that button! ;-)

      Yeah, I missed the last post/next post links in the redesign – sorry about that.

    9. Jake1
      March 8th, 2010 | 9:10 am

      the thing is newspapers should have been charging for content from day 1. why should they actually report and write things if blogs and other net sources just copy n paste their work without paying for it? linking can only be worth so much.

      gathering news isnt free. the free content biz model just doesnt work

    10. cr1
      March 8th, 2010 | 11:01 am

      Not sure why the copy/paste thing has gotten so out of hand — a link with a phrase about what you’re linking to is a much better option IMO. Can’t think what advantage there is to the c/p other than filling space.

    11. March 8th, 2010 | 12:21 pm

      Rich wrote:

      I would, however, be willing to pay SG (and maybe one or two other bloggers) for his commentary and analysis. It’s a lot more insightful than anything that the current beat writers provide.
      That said, there has to be a better way to monetize sports content than having a personal beat writer.

      The problem with that is that there’s only so much a blogger – even one as proficient as SG – is that what a beat writer does is an entirely different animal. Its a much different skill set to produce raw information (Player X is hurt, Player Y is unhappy with his deal, the Yankees and Team A are discussing a trade for Player B) than it is to look at numbers or even games on TV and analyze them.

      There’s a limit to what a blogger can do without access, which is why the idea of freelance beat writer – someone who already has that access essentially taking to blogging is intriguing.
      Jake1 wrote:

      the thing is newspapers should have been charging for content from day 1. why should they actually report and write things if blogs and other net sources just copy n paste their work without paying for it? linking can only be worth so much.

      gathering news isnt free. the free content biz model just doesnt work

      I think that’s what newspapers all over are struggling with. No one has been able to monetize the Internet. Web ads don’t produce enough money to cover expenses and print readership is dying. Recent experiments with paywalls – Newsday and the ill-fated TimesSelect – have proven unsuccessful so far, if not outright disasters.

      It is not a comfortable time to be a print reporter these days.

    12. March 8th, 2010 | 12:39 pm

      cr1 wrote:

      Not sure why the copy/paste thing has gotten so out of hand — a link with a phrase about what you’re linking to is a much better option IMO. Can’t think what advantage there is to the c/p other than filling space.

      If everything posted to the internet stayed forever – and URLs never changed – I would agree. But, me, personally, I hate it when I go back to something, and it links to another source, and then when you click on that link it’s gone or moved.

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