A ‘real’ journalist’s take on the future of sports journalism

By Jon

Mark McGuire, sports columnist for the Times Union of Albany, recently wrote an interesting piece on the future of sports journalism. He poses some interesting questions …

In some ways, many ways, these are the best of days for sports fans. Followers of any team, from the local high school to a foreign soccer club, are a mouse click away from a deluge of information.

But as traditional media cut back on staff and space (at least, for newspapers, in the printed paper editions), who will be providing the source material — the quotes and tidbits and breaking news and first-hand analysis — since most (but certainly not all) journalistic Internet operations are labors of love?

And what quality of information can sports fans expect? Traditional media have access to players and coaches and executives and games, but have seen responsibilities mount exponentially (blogs, video, Web-based reporting, etc.). With an instantaneous news cycle and dwindling staffs, there’s simply less opportunity for depth, as well as a declining ability to cover the widest range of interests.

Meanwhile, bloggers and other site operators — some every bit as good or better than the so-called professionals — are often constrained by a lack of access, or the fact they have “real” jobs in order to make a living.

In both traditional and emerging sports media, what we’re talking about is time and money.

This is not whining: After two years in sports after a career working for other parts of newspapers, I’m truly grateful to have this gig. But I do question where the fan that is me is going to get first-hand info if we continue to see cutbacks at traditional media outlets everywhere (including this one), and no new model emerges.

While this idea certainly isn’t new, it’s kind of refreshing to see it in a major newspaper. McGuire’s takes are usually well thought out and interesting, but this one seems to have got people talking on — you guessed it — his blog.

I don’t really have much to add, I just thought that some of you may be interested in McGuire’s take. You can read his original column here, and the already lively conversation on his blog is sure to heat up over the coming days.