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Thread: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123906424665995337.html

    As Newspapers Cut Back, Press Boxes Grow Lonelier; How a Venerable Institution Lost Its Way


    By RUSSELL ADAMS and TIM MARCHMAN
    Baseball's independent press corps, once the most powerful in American sports, is fading. As newspapers cut budgets and payrolls, the press boxes at major league ballparks are becoming increasingly lonely places, signaling a future when some games may be chronicled only by wire services, house organs and Web writers watching the games on television.
    In Their Own Words

    "I certainly recognize where things are going," says Jack O'Connell, secretary of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the venerable 101-year-old membership organization for the profession. "I certainly see the dark clouds."

    It's not clear how many newspaper beat writers and columnists will vanish. Some major dailies in baseball towns like Boston and New York say so long as they exist, they will never stop covering their teams. Online-only sources have filled some of the void, and independent Web sites have popped up where fans gather to comment on the games as they happen. In many ways, baseball writers are no different than other professionals whose industries are being shrunk.

    But throughout the last century, baseball writers have stood above their sportswriting colleagues. When the National League needed a president in 1934, it hired former Yankees beat writer Ford Frick. When San Diego named a ballpark in 1980, it honored Jack Murphy of the San Diego Union. In some press boxes, black-and-white portraits of writers line the walls in tribute.

    Their exalted status gave rank-and-file BBWAA members unusual powers, from being assured entry to clubhouses and press box seats at the World Series to electing players to baseball's Hall of Fame. After 10 years, BBWAA members are given certain perks that continue even after retirement.

    The changing world was on vivid display recently at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla., the spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Opened in 1923 during the golden age of sportswriting, it held its first-ever night game last March -- 20 years after the lights first went on over Chicago's Wrigley Field. At a March 22 game between the Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds two writers from Pittsburgh papers were in attendance, along with two reporters from Major League Baseball's Web site. The Pittsburgh chapter of the BBWAA is down to nine members, an all time low, from 20 in 1988.

    The Beaver County Times, outside Pittsburgh, has stopped covering spring training and won't cover every Pirates road game -- primarily due to finances, according to sports editor Ed Rose. To some, it's inevitable that more papers will follow suit. "We're waiting for that first domino to fall, for that first major newspaper not covering its team on the road," says current BBWAA president David O'Brien.

    For some papers looking to eliminate redundancies and cut costs, baseball, with its 162-game regular season, is low-hanging fruit. Tom Jolly, sports editor of the New York Times, says it costs the Times about $6,500 a month during the regular season to have a reporter follow the team on the road. Adding spring training and a trip to the playoffs, one baseball reporter costs the paper more than $50,000 per season on top of his or her salary.

    Beginning this season, the Washington Post will rely on the Baltimore Sun to cover the Orioles, while the Sun will leave its Nationals coverage to the Post, part of a broader content-sharing deal being replicated at papers around the country. The Hartford Courant quit sending a reporter on the road with the Red Sox, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette has cut its Red Sox road presence to between 35-40 games from 70 last year. And the New York Times now sends only one person on certain road trips that in the past would have called for two, Mr. Jolly said.


    Still, some major dailies are not about to take reporters off the baseball beat. The cash-strapped Boston Herald has cut its city desk by more than half in the past five years, but tinkering with Red Sox coverage "was never really an option," said Tony Massarotti, who covered the team for the Herald for nearly 15 years before moving to the rival Globe last fall. "It would be suicide, quite honestly."

    Some teams and organizations say the decrease in newspaper coverage may hamper their ability to promote themselves. Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, wrote recently on his blog that to let newspapers die is a "recipe for disaster" for professional sports leagues because newspapers, however weakened, remain the leagues' best and only link to a mass audience. He said he has spoken to other sports executives about creating a league-backed "beat writer cooperative" to guarantee a minimum number of daily stories on each local team.

    In Detroit, where the city's two largest newspapers recently cut home delivery to three days a week, research conducted by the local professional hockey team, the Red Wings, shows 65% of season-ticket holders get their Red Wings coverage from the printed newspaper.

    One day in January after the Red Wings played the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field, both the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News ran large photos from the game on the front of their sports sections, many of which are now hung on walls in offices and homes around the city. "I don't know how we would duplicate that on our own," said Steve Violetta, the Red Wings' executive vice president of business affairs.



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    Score Early, Score Often gonelong's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    I always felt that newspaper circulation relied pretty heavily on the boxscore.

    Most of the gents that I know will check out the headlines on the front page and head directly for the sports section. Back in the day the only place to get the boxscore was in the paper. Then ESPN came along and you could get much of the info there, however, not all. I think that only increased my anticipation of the morning paper to see what the rest of my fantasy team (not covered by ESPN) had done the night before.

    Flip to now and I couldn't even tell you if my newspaper has boxscores in it, though I suspect it does. Before the paper comes I could check any number of websites to get the detailed info or follow my fantasy team in real-time (if I had one), or receive a text message, or check it on the mobile, etc.

    This alone has killed, is killing, and will be killing a lot of the demand for newspapers IMO.

    GL

  4. #3
    nothing more than a fan Always Red's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Quote Originally Posted by gonelong View Post
    I always felt that newspaper circulation relied pretty heavily on the boxscore.

    Most of the gents that I know will check out the headlines on the front page and head directly for the sports section. Back in the day the only place to get the boxscore was in the paper. Then ESPN came along and you could get much of the info there, however, not all. I think that only increased my anticipation of the morning paper to see what the rest of my fantasy team (not covered by ESPN) had done the night before.

    Flip to now and I couldn't even tell you if my newspaper has boxscores in it, though I suspect it does. Before the paper comes I could check any number of websites to get the detailed info or follow my fantasy team in real-time (if I had one), or receive a text message, or check it on the mobile, etc.

    This alone has killed, is killing, and will be killing a lot of the demand for newspapers IMO.

    GL
    I used to love the compiled stats that would be in the Sunday paper. It would have individual batting stats, ranked by batting average, and it was the only place you could easily go back in the day for team batting and pitching stats, ranked with the other teams in the league. My dad would get so ticked off, waiting for me to finish, so he could take it for his morning constitutional- "are you finished studying that thing yet?!?"

    The world is rapidly changing. I still read the Reds beat writers, every single day, yet never pick up a newspaper.

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    Hey Cubs Fans RFS62's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Yep, it was a big part of my life for a long time.

    When "The National" came out, I was in Heaven. It took forever to deliver, but the in-depth feature writing was a dream come true.

    It too went the way of the dodo.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
    ~ Mark Twain

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    Member LawFive's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    I make sure to buy a printed paper most days during baseball season, just for the box scores. The rest of the year I only buy Sundays anymore.

    The printed newspaper is still the only place where you can scan all the boxes at once. Online, you have to click on each game separately and to me, that's just annoying.
    The seven most magic words in all the land...
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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    I still read the local daily newspaper, but my sons never give it a glance. Most daily newspapers are doomed. The internet is killing them.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    Miami Redhawks Redhook's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    I still read the local daily newspaper, but my sons never give it a glance. Most daily newspapers are doomed. The internet is killing them.
    It still surprises me that these papers don't charge for online reading. I read the Cincy Enquire, DDN, USA Today, etc. everyday for free. If I couldn't read them on here for free, I'd pay for them.
    "....the two players I liked watching the most were Barry Larkin and Eric Davis. I was suitably entertained by their effortless skill that I didn't need them crashing into walls like a squirrel on a coke binge." - dsmith421

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Quote Originally Posted by Redhook View Post
    It still surprises me that these papers don't charge for online reading. I read the Cincy Enquire, DDN, USA Today, etc. everyday for free. If I couldn't read them on here for free, I'd pay for them.
    Yes. The Wall Street Journal is able to charge for some of its online content, but most newspapers do not. Newspapers really blew it in their reaction to the coming of the web by putting all of their content out for free and now it is probably too late for most of them to change. Perhaps if most newspapers vanish then those few who are left will have something rare enough and valuable enough to cause more people to be willing to pay for it.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Quote Originally Posted by Redhook View Post
    It still surprises me that these papers don't charge for online reading. I read the Cincy Enquire, DDN, USA Today, etc. everyday for free. If I couldn't read them on here for free, I'd pay for them.
    The thing that boggles my mind is, for example the Enquirers site.... John Fay's blog gets a ton of traffic. It has 1 ad on it, at the very top of the site. On the sidebar they could easily fit 2 more in there without taking away from anything on the page and triple their ad revenue.

    Its all about being creative in advertising and promoting your product. Newspapers for the most part have been quite slow to adapt and it has really cost them.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Well News won't be free forever is my guess, this article touches on some items that pertain to a future business model.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/06/te...tml?ref=global

    April 6, 2009
    Micro-Billing, Byte by Byte, Suits the World of Cellphones
    By MATT RICHTEL and BOB TEDESCHI

    LAS VEGAS — As the music, film, television, newspaper, book and video-game industries strain to find a way to thrive in the new digital marketplace, one seems to have figured it all out.

    It is that trailblazer known as the phone company.

    Consumers are using their mobile phones to download tens of millions of games, songs, ring tones and video programs. And they shell out money for these items, even as they resist paying for similar digital goodies online using their computers.

    It is a curious equation: pay for stuff on a tiny, low-resolution screen while getting some of the very same games and video free on a fancy widescreen monitor.

    At its annual trade show in Las Vegas last week, the phone industry pushed new software stores, video players, games and content. Their efforts are based on a digital twist on Pavlov: The phone rings and we pay.

    “There’s been no expectation that anything would be free,” said David Chamberlain, an analyst with In-Stat, a market research firm. “The telcos have been very careful not to give stuff away.”

    By contrast, he said, “a lot of people on the Internet are wondering — why did we let all this stuff go for free?”

    It may have to do with each industry’s origins. “Information wants to be free” has long been the rallying cry for many Internet pioneers. As the mythology goes, the designers of the Internet envisioned it as utopian and open — two words rarely used to describe the phone experience.

    One example of the stark difference between the phone and the computer is the concept of micropayments. Newspapers and other content producers have examined the method — getting people to pay for content with a nickel here and a dime there — as a possible answer to their revenue problems on the Web.

    But the phone industry has had a micropayment system for decades. Ever since the local telephone company charged a customer an extra 35 cents to hear a recorded weather forecast, the phone industry has been charging for content.

    Couple that pervasive billing culture with the ability of consumers to get what they want, whenever and wherever they want it (playing Tetris while waiting in line at Starbucks, for example) and you have a powerful alchemy. Piper Jaffray, a market research firm, published a report recently saying it expected consumers to spend $13 billion on downloads to their phones in 2012, up from $2.8 billion this year. The report called Apple’s popular iPhone application store “a tipping point in consumer consumption” over phones.

    Apple’s payment model strongly resembles that of the phone industry. A consumer enters his credit card data once, and all subsequent downloads are automatically charged to that account.

    By making the process convenient, Apple has been able to sell software applications that, accessed through a computer, would be free. LiveStrong’s calorie-counter app, for example, is free online but a version of it costs $2.99 in the iPhone App store.

    But to some consumers, paying on the phone feels different, and more reasonable, than paying online. Sabrina Sanchez of Pleasanton, Calif., a mother of two teenage boys has found herself with mounting bills from downloaded navigation tools and games, like a Star Wars game that turns their iPhones into light sabers.

    Ms. Sanchez said she finally started setting down rules in February when her 12-year-old racked up $25 in charges in a month.

    “I don’t want him to get used to the instant gratification,” she said. “It’s like a slot machine.”

    Ms. Sanchez said she and her children were much more likely to buy things like games on the phone than on the computer. “I have not bought a casual game on the Net. The kids have bought a couple, but not like on the phone.”

    Content developers say consumers like the instant gratification of downloading on the go. By contrast, PC users have to go through a few more steps to pay for items online because, most of the time, they must enter credit card information for each purchase.

    Research shows that the more steps a person must take to pay, the less likely he is to buy something. Besides, people have simply become used to paying for things on the phone.

    One paid service on phones is TV shows, sold through services like MobiTV of Emeryville, Calif., which packages television programming for phones. About 5.5 million people in the United States are paying $10 or more for MobiTV from AT&T, Sprint and Alltel. “People can’t carry around a 48-inch plasma TV,” said Ray DeRenzo, senior vice president of MobiTV.

    But there are others who question how much longer consumers will be willing to pay for content on the phone.

    Paul Jacobs, the chief executive of Qualcomm, which offers a mobile TV service called MediaFlow, said the company expected before long to start offering broadcast channels free while charging only for premium programming, like cable shows.

    Despite the success of paid phone applications, there are thousands of free applications available. One company, called GetJar, offers some 20,000 services, including games and productivity software, and has been getting 33 million downloads a month.

    Apple has plenty of free applications too; Skype, which lets you make free calls over the Internet was downloaded one million times in the first 48 hours after it was introduced last week.

    Still, providers of content for mobile devices remain happy about their ability to get paid. One is Kinoma, a Palo Alto, Calif., company whose $30 browser software lets mobile phone users surf the Web and organize their music, among other things.

    Brian Friedkin, the company’s co-founder, said he had sold “many thousands” of downloads — though they are features that are free on a PC.

    “It’s tough to say why mobile users are more willing to pay,” he said. “But it’s great for us.”

  12. #11
    nothing more than a fan Always Red's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    ^^ I'll not pay. I'll just come here for my free info, same as I do now.

    It means having to trust RZ'ers, but we're right 95% of the time. or thereabouts.

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    Charlie Brown All-Star IslandRed's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    Speaking of baseball, media and technological obsolescence... the MLB At Bat app for the iPhone is fantastic. Now that it has game audio, that's probably the final stake in the heart for my XM subscription, which I still had primarily to listen to Reds games.
    Not all who wander are lost

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Baseball Writers Brace for the End

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/08/te...gewanted=print
    April 8, 2009
    Google Insists It’s a Friend to Newspapers
    By MIGUEL HELFT

    SAN DIEGO — It had the makings of a high-tension face-off: Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, spoke Tuesday at a convention of newspaper executives at a time when a growing chorus in the struggling industry is accusing Google of succeeding, in part, at their expense.

    Any open controversy reverberated little more than a soggy newspaper hitting a doorstep. Mr. Schmidt’s speech closing the annual meeting of the Newspaper Association of America here was a lengthy discourse on the importance of newspapers and the challenges and opportunities brought about by technologies like mobile phones.

    His speech was followed by polite questions from industry executives that only briefly touched upon a perennially sore point: whether the use of headlines and snippets of newspaper stories on Google News is “fair use” under copyright law or a misappropriation of newspaper content.

    “I was surprised that the publishers really let Google off the hook,” said Jim Chisholm, a consultant with iMedia Advisory, which advises newspaper companies around the world. “While Google News generates a lot of audience, ultimately, the question is going to be who is going to make the money out of that: Google or the publishers.”

    On Monday, The Associated Press said that it would work to require Web sites that use the work of news organizations, including The Associated Press and its member newspapers, to obtain permission and share revenue with them.

    “The ultimate resolution of all is this will be determined by how you interpret fair use,” Mr. Schmidt said of the broader debate around Google News. But Mr. Schmidt said that he was “a little confused” by news reports that singled out Google as a target of The A.P. effort. He noted that Google currently licensed and hosted news stories from The A.P. He did not directly address newspaper content, which the company does not license.

    Google has long insisted that its use of snippets and headlines in Google News is legal. It also said Google News drove a huge amount of traffic to newspaper Web sites, which the publishers monetize through advertising.

    Newspaper publishers do not want to cut off the traffic they get from Google’s search and news services and from other search engines. It is technologically simple for any newspaper Web site to keep content off Google and Google News, but few if any newspapers have chosen to do that.

    Publishers do resent that the company, which recently began showing ads on Google News, is profiting from their content.

    The A.P. has not given details about exactly how it plans to tackle the issue. Just before Mr. Schmidt’s speech, William Dean Singleton, chairman of The A.P. and chief executive of the MediaNews Group, said: “We don’t plan for anyone to use our content unless they pay for it. The licenses we do in the future will limit how and where our content is used.”

    Mr. Singleton said that executives at The A.P. would offer recommendations on how to proceed in the coming weeks. Newspaper companies have been unwilling to test the issue in court, where Google’s fair-use arguments could prevail, and it is not clear that The A.P. plans to do so.

    Mr. Singleton said he expected some of MediaNews’s newspapers, which include The San Jose Mercury News and The Denver Post, would come up with a way to charge for some of their content by midyear, a model that a growing number of publishers are considering.

    “It’s a balancing act,” he said. “We’d like to have a pay wall but we like the traffic we get from search engines.”

    In his speech, Mr. Schmidt encouraged publishers to create more personalized news products that could be delivered effectively on the Web, cellphones and other devices. “We think we can build a business — again, with you guys — with significant advertising resources, where the advertising is targeted to the content,” he said. He acknowledged that many publishers were increasingly thinking about charging for their content, and said he expected the newspaper industry to eventually resemble television, where some content was free, some was purchased by subscription and some was paid for every time it was viewed. But he said he expected that advertising would remain the leading revenue model in online media.

    In a meeting with reporters afterward, Mr. Schmidt said Google was unlikely to license newspaper content, as it has done with The A.P., even if that content was behind a pay wall.

    “In a scenario where a newspaper had a subscription product, what would Google do?” he asked. “It’s highly unlikely that we would buy a subscription and give the content away free. We might be able to help the distribution of that content, but the user would have to pay.”


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