Thoughts On Baseball Media
by Dave Cameron - 2/27/2009 - Comments (25)
Today, the Rocky Mountain News published their final edition. Scripps, their owner, couldn't find a buyer who wanted into the struggling newspaper business, and so Denver has become a single paper town. This will happen shortly in Seattle as well, where the Seattle Post Intelligencer will cease printing in a month or so. The San Francisco Chronicle is in a similar position and is unlikely to survive 2009, which will leave San Francisco without a daily newspaper.
Meanwhile, yesterday, Newsday announced that they are moving away from a free web content system towards a subscriber-pay system in an effort to generate more revenue.
For journalists, the world is changing, and it's changing very quickly. The old business models don't work anymore, as the internet has conditioned people to expect significant content to be delivered online for no additional cost beyond what they pay their local ISP. With ad revenues plunging, media companies simply haven't been able to find a way to make money. Without profit, there's no viable business, and the resources we enjoy go away.
With the Rocky Mountain News folding today, it got me thinking - where is the online baseball community headed? Between The Hardball Times and blogs like ours here at FanGraphs and Tango's work at The Book Blog, there is a remarkable flow of tremendous content being put out simply for the sake of improving the quality of baseball knowledge available. For guys like Studes or Tango, this isn't their career - it's a hobby, and something they do because they love it.
The same goes true, I would suspect, for most of the new analysts we've seen rise up in various sites over the last year or two. From guys like Sean Smith to Sky Kalkman, Colin Wyers, Josh Kalk, Mike Fast, and all the rest, there is a deep well of talent that is advancing baseball knowledge for everyone. And they're doing it without charging for their efforts.
Much like the open source movement in software, there's been a revolution in the baseball community. The best content available isn't being written in books or newspapers, or even behind subscription walls that require payments to access - the best knowledge available is free to everyone who wants it.
And, while it's sad to watch newspapers fold and business models fail, it's exciting to be living in an age where anyone who wants to educate themselves on the game can do so.