As newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News shutter operations, we hear more and more stories about the supposed looming end of journalism. The latest story, from the Wall Street Journal
, fortells the doom of baseball writers, one of the oldest and most powerful sportswriting press corps in the country, in an article melodramatically titled Baseball Writers Brace for the End
. The Baseball Writers Association of America seems to be buckling down and preparing for the "dark clouds" that they apparently see on the horizon. However, for an organization that only recently admitted web-only reporters into its membership, it makes sense that they see the changing journalistic environment brought on by the web as something bad rather than a new opportunity. Yes, it's expensive to send reporters on the road with teams, and yes, in these tough times, some papers are cutting their sportswriting staffs. That said, just because newspapers
are cutting sportswriters, that does not mean that sportswriting itself will die. Like investigative journalism
, sportswriting can certainly adapt to an online environment.
After all, it's not the paper that makes the content better, it's the content itself. Case in point, Yankee beat reporter Pete Abraham's blog
is religiously read by hordes of Yankee fans. If, for some reason, The Journal News
were to shut down, surely Pete would be able to find an audience to support him on his own. Granted, the Yankees would have to have the foresight to continue to give him press credentials. That said, large market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are not likely to be the first victims to lose their writers. However, even in small markets, the MLB franchises themselves benefit immensely from well-written articles about their organizations. Mark Cuban pointed out last year
that it is in the best interest of sports teams to keep the local coverage of their teams alive, since without it, their fans lose a vital connection to their teams. Cuban goes so far as to suggest that the teams form a "beatwriter co-operative" to fund coverage of their teams. Journalism purists may scoff at such a notion, fearing that funded reporters become merely corporate shills. But, in this era of growing transparency, anyone with a computer can easily point out if an emperor wears no clothes, so any reporter, whether on the MLB payroll or not, would think twice before squandering their hard-earned reputation on a questionable story.
That said, the costs of covering a baseball team should be plummeting. Baseball bloggers do a fine job of covering games by watching them on TV. Want an inside perspective on the game? More and more players are getting on twitter. Heck, sabermetric analysis of baseball games, popularized by Moneyball
, does not even require that you ever go to a game (although, you're missing a lot if you don't). So, yes, even you
can be a baseball writer, and perhaps that is what the BBWAA is really scared of.