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