The End of the Road - Longread on the role of the beat reporter in 2018

<span class="entry-title-primary">The End of the Road</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">- Longread on the role of the beat reporter in 2018</span>

by mike in boston / @mikeinbostonemail

 

Good morning sports media fans. I have been sitting on this post for a while, waiting until I could talk to enough people in the industry to have an informed opinion of my own. Unfortunately there is no place where Canadian sports media can discuss issues that affect their industry so our site often ends up serving that purpose. With the loss of media columns and disinterest from places like Canadaland et al this means that if it is not being written about here then it is not being written about at all.

 

In what follows I have tried to capture most sides of the issue but, as always, my approach starts and ends with the perspective of the consumer. This is primarily a site for readers, listeners, and viewers because that’s the only viewpoint from which I am qualified to comment. It would be great if real journalists were also writing about this topic somewhere.

 

With that out of the way, let’s get to work.

 

The Star’s Travel Ban

 

In February of this year The Star announced a series of cutbacks aimed at keeping the company afloat while financial losses continue to mount.

 

“On Monday, the company tightened its belt one more notch, cutting 13 jobs in its digital and sales operations, slashing the Toronto Star’s travel and freelance budgets and suspending its summer and year-long internship programs.” — Globe&Mail

 

Torstar board chair John Honderich talked to the Globe about their strategy going forward, mentioning what he sees as one of the problems for legacy media

 

“And added to the dynamic is something that is the greatest competitor to newspapers online and subscription: CBC.ca. It’s government subsidized. That provides a competitor for free.”

 

According to Honderich, the existence of CBC.ca draws advertising dollars away from other digital news outlets, including newspaper sites. He uses this premise to make his case:

 

“Countries around the globe have argued that, often, culture does not pay for itself and it requires some form of public subsidy. We accept that for TV production for the CBC, for the Canadian film industry, we see it for magazines, we see it for some weekly newspapers. But we don’t see it for daily newspapers. Help me understand how that makes sense. One per cent of what the CBC gets from the government – which is $1.1- billion, so 1 per cent is $11-million – that would pay for one half of the Toronto Star newsroom.”

 

Before talking about the specific issues for sports, I’d like to pause here to point out how misguided this argument is. If CBC.ca can render news websites obsolete while at the same time providing a cultural service to all Canadians then this mostly shows how redundant all these legacy digital news websites are. The high cost of running a for-profit newsroom is a big waste of money since the bulk of that content is already available to the audience coast to coast. If I can get most of what I need from the qualified journalists at the CBC then why would I need to pay for a subscription to The Star?

 

This is a bad argument. This kind of legacy thinking is a symptom of the poor management that infects traditional media. I’ll come back to this point later.

 

At Star Sports, the travel ban went into effect mid February with beat reporters for the Leafs and Raptors being kept at home through the last month of the season before columnists stepped in to resume full road coverage during the playoffs. Doug Smith (who is back on twitter and seemingly recovering well from a heart issue) wrote in his Star blog that this was not a permanent decision as far as he knew. However during the first month of the baseball season The Star has not sent anyone on the road for any of the four series and all indications are that this will continue into May.

 

The Jays beat has been the province of Richard Griffin for decades now, and Laura Armstrong joined him in the last year, replacing the talented Brendan Kennedy who moved to another department. Both writers have been in the press box and locker room for home games. Both have also filed stories for games they did not attend in person. Griffin was at spring training, though this travel was booked before the travel ban went into effect.

 

By comparison, The Sun has been at every road series in 2018 and The Athletic has sent John Lott to two out of the four. More broadly, The Sun has made a serious commitment to being at all road events for the local teams. The Athletic covers all Leafs games home and away, and picks their spots with Raptors, TFC, and the Jays. The Globe rarely travels for regular season games but has been on the road for Leafs and Raptors in the playoffs.

 

At the networks, TSN has radically cut back its Jays travel since Scott MacArthur was taken off the road a couple of years ago. That role has morphed from beat coverage into a multi-platform position that is based out of Toronto most of the time. Sportsnet, obviously, travels to all games as part of their television and radio coverage but also sends Ben Nicholson-Smith or Shi Davidi to almost every game.

 

The main question I’d like to delve into today is: what value is lost when writers don’t travel with the team?

 

I’m going to separate out the various constituencies in order to isolate different issues that are often conflated in this discussion.

 

Audience Interests

 

There are two big considerations from the standpoint of the consumer when reporters don’t travel with the team.

 

The first is that they might miss a big story. As a reader I want every story covered from every angle. If there is a blow-up between a manager and a player in the tunnel after the game then the more eyes there are on the ground the likelier someone will witness it and write about it. If a reporter is not in the scrum then he or she might miss a chance to ask a question that would prompt an interesting quote. If a player has an open spat with a reporter I want someone else to write about it objectively. If someone gets traded or suspended or charged you want as many people working the story as possible on the ground.

 

This is a plausible point but it is hard to argue that it justifies the expense of the flights, hotels, per diem etc. of sending someone on the road. Players are very tightly controlled by PR departments and so almost everything that happens comes behind closed doors rather than in public view.  For every unique event there are hundreds of generic games and scrums consisting of nothing more than “pucks in deep”. The Star’s decision not to send people on the road won’t be seriously challenged by this argument.

 

COLE BURSTON / THE CANADIAN PRESS

 

A more compelling version of this point is that reporters who travel build relationships with players and managers. These sometimes lead to reporting that would not come to the surface otherwise. The best example of this is Colby Rasmus’ interview with TSN’s Scott MacArthur from 2014. Colby really opened up about his struggles and his childhood in ways that never would have happened (or been allowed) in a traditional scrum environment. There is definitely a distinctive value to be found here and it is definitely threatened when reporters are not on the road, where there is less pressure on athletes’ time from friends and family and other reporters. If you want the best out of your staff then you need to empower them to build these relationships.

 

The second big consideration is transparency. As a reader I don’t like the idea that editors are assigning writers to sit on their couches and watch the same game as I am, and then tell me what I just watched. Why would I bother reading that? I wouldn’t. My clicks have been going elsewhere since the travel ban went into effect.

 

Of course some people won’t have seen the game and will benefit from the couch-coverage, but this raises a few different issues. First, unless you’re paying attention to placelines — the bit under the author’s name that lists (or omits) a location — it would be a natural assumption by the reader that the story is being written from the road. This is especially true if the game story includes quotes. The trick that stay-at-home reporters will use is to add “… told reporters” or “with files from …” when using quotes they did not get themselves.

 

Is it ethical for a reporter to include these quotes without clearly indicating this is not firsthand information? Have a look at this piece and decide for yourself.

 

Sometimes teams will release quote-sheets for general use. Other times the scrum or press conference will be aired on websites or social media. But in some cases a reporter is literally sitting at home reading other people’s tweets or stories and then using these to write a game story. So, whether you watched the game on TV or not, there is a potential problem when a paper writes a game story without fully disclosing that they were not there and are relying on the ears and eyes of others for content. This 2nd and 3rd hand information really dilutes the journalistic value of what is being offered. If you knew this about the story going in, would you still read?

 

This leads to a related problem: if you’re writing your story off TV then you are constrained by the images and sounds they choose to broadcast. You are also going to be influenced — consciously or not — by the narrative that is spun by the local broadcasters. Things have improved since the addition of Wagner and Shulman, but when your coverage is mediated through Hawk Martinez this is going to have some effect on the written work over the course of a season.

 

Putting these two points — loss of relationships and loss of original reporting — together I do think there is something of value to the audience that is threatened by losing road reporting. However, given resource constraints, this is natural place to cut back for the sake of saving the sports department. In my opinion The Star cut too deeply. A strategy like The Athletic’s seems like the best one: when something is brewing then make sure you are there. Otherwise, save your dollars and let the other guys or the wire services write the game stories.

 

Reporter Interests

 

Some reporters to whom I spoke were passionate defenders of the necessity of beat reporting. Others were more phlegmatic. As a reporter you are trained (ideally) in the art of reading subtle cues, asking good questions (ideally), and conveying your findings (ideally) in an interesting manner. When this all goes well, the audience is well served and you have added something to the pool of knowledge.

 

With that said, game stories are arguably the least critical form of sports writing in 2018. I don’t mean to malign the fine work that can be done. But when every at bat of every game can be seen live or immediately after it happens, the value of telling people about home runs and strikeouts is minimal. This is not the case with news, where “what happened” can be a mix of fact and interpretation and good reporting is essential in order to untangle the two. If I can watch a clip of a double-play or a 10 minute condensed version of the game then I don’t need someone to explain it to me.

 

As mentioned, the facts on the score sheet are just one element of a game story. There is also what comes before and after, as well as the implications for the next game and the rest of the season. However, much of that can be written about without being at the game. So we come back to the point that when resources are tight, travel can be cut without a significant loss in terms of core job function.

 

One way to respond to this is to point to the leaders in the field and the way they gained their stripes. Bob Elliott is Bob Elliott because of his contacts, his credentials, and his credibility with the players. He gets the respect from his subjects in part because of his presence from game to game and season to season. If he is not on the road then he never becomes Bob Elliott, and he never writes some of his best work. Players read that work and come to trust his judgment. There is a positive feedback loop here.

 

I have a lot of time for this argument. First, beat reporting is great job training for young reporters. If you take this away then you are professionally handcuffing those in most need of experience. Second, if only team-friendly media are on the road then there is a huge potential for big stories to be swept under the rug. With the new “fan experience” focused media relations department running things for the Jays and Sportsnet, the audience needs independent voices more than ever.

 

Another point is that there is a symbiotic relationship between beat reporters and columnists, again in the ideal. A columnist can’t be on the road all the time so he or she …. (Ha! A Toronto outlet hiring a female sports columnists. We don’t even have a word for that!) … can work with a colleague to get all the information out there.

 

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 9.59.03 AM.jpg

 

When this works well the columnist is able to say things the beat reporter could not, for fear of risking existing relationships. This ecosystem makes everyone better off, especially the audience.

 

This is a good argument for why both roles are important and interdependent. If you want Steve Simmons to be able to do his job then you need Lance Hornsby and Ryan Wolstat to do theirs.

 

Is this an argument for being at every single road game? Probably not. However it does mean that being at no road games is a mistake. Again, The Star seems to have cut too deeply without giving enough thought to whether they are being pennywise and poundfoolish when it comes to the overall health of the department.

 

I’ve Seen The Future, Brother. It is Murder.

 

We know how this ends. There will be cuts upon cuts until the last ones left are told to turn off the lights after filing their game stories. The only hope for saving newspapers is to think about what you can offer in a saturated market that others cannot. As soon as you identify what that is then you should double and triple down on that while abandoning the rest.

 

I have written often about how content these days is disposable. No matter how much research you put into something it will have the tiniest life cycle before it gets buried in people’s feeds. Things are never going back to the way they once were. No one is going to own the sports conversation for 24 hours at a time and that is OK. The challenge is to stay on top of good stories and put your assets to best use so that when everyone is talking about something important you are part of the conversation.

 

One way to create economies is to stop trying to capture the same eye balls as everybody else. This applies to print as well as subscription based services. Yes, this might mean your sports section has fewer people working in it. But it also means those who are on salary are doing something sustainable and worthwhile. Let’s be honest: it doesn’t make sense to hire the same number of people to cover sports in 2018 when everything is on TV as it did 20 years ago. You can make do with fewer, as long as you are writing about the right things.

 

The lesson for all outlets, at home or on the road, is the same: stop chasing the same stories as everyone else. Taking this maxim seriously will free people up to do good original work, assuming they have the talent and skills to do so. There is an opportunity here for The Star to be radical in an industry that is dogmatically dedicated to the pre-internet ways of doing things. Kevin McGran did some great stuff on HNIC from home. So did Laura Armstrong with this piece on Joe Siddall. If The Star can figure out how to afford the cost of allowing some travel then they can just run AP/CP stories for the other road games and let their people pursue more interesting stories instead of sitting on the couch.

 

This is why Honderich’s complaining about the unfair advantages of CBC.ca is tone-deaf but also highly illustrative of the kind of conservative thinking that dominates the executive level of traditional media. The Star has been trying to do the same thing as 20 years ago despite the loss of the cash cow revenue that came from obituaries and classified ads. How long has it been since the business model was shown to be unsustainable? How long since their bread and butter stories became irrelevant? Yet the top minds at The Star think the issue is that they don’t have a level playing field with CBC.ca? This is fiddling while 1 Yonge Street burns.

 

SN/RUSSELL MONK

 

To bring this discussion to a close, in an era of unprecedented control over athletes by teams and media companies the value of the unaffiliated journalists is critical. This is especially true with the Jays since they are a Rogers-only property. This creates huge advantages for the people who work there in terms of access, whether that’s Stephen Brunt being able to visit Roberto Osuna in his hometown in Mexico or Jackie Redmond being able to play poker with the Jays.  This doesn’t mean that affiliated journalists don’t do valuable work, but rather that the audience needs both if we are going to have the complete picture.

 

Speaking purely as an audience member I can envision a world where The Sun owns the road, The Star picks and chooses while using the leftover resources to chase more investigative type stories, and The Globe focuses on big picture opinion. This would cover all the bases while giving each a niche of their own. More likely is that they continue to do the same thing they have always done while cutting budgets and hoping the audience doesn’t notice.

 

One final point here. As much as we decry the slippery slope of paying people to watch TV instead of going to the rink, this is not new. People have been writing stories without either seeing the field or asking a question of their own for decades. While a press pass gets you in the door, at any big event many travelling media are going to be doing work they could just as easily have done from home. What a waste of company money.

 

Considering the Evidence

 

  • If you want to compare a game story from the road to one from home, here is The Star’s Richard Griffin (no quotes) and here is The Sun’s Steve Buffery. No contest in terms of depth of reporting. Assigning Griffin to do that story is an insult, and the work reads almost as a protest.

 

  • If you want to think about the kind of stuff that gets omitted by team-friendly media consider that Rob Manfred recently breezed through town and said two noteworthy things: 1) The Dome needs upgrades, 2) Sportsnet angered the league by intimating the Facebook game was “radio only”. Guess which item was left off Shi Davidi’s story? For complete coverage, you have to read a non-Rogers outlet. Here is Griffin, who thankfully covered the whole story.

 

  • Cathal Kelly recently covered The Masters for three straight days from his living room. To devote this much space to an event without sending someone there to do any actual reporting is, in my opinion, ridiculous. You might as well pay him to livetweet the broadcast instead. This speaks to the rudderlessness of GlobeSports and the terrible approach they have taken to running a sports department on limited resources.

 

  • Kevin Pillar spoke about what steps he has taken since his use of a gay slur during a baseball game. If beat reporting is how you acquire Ken Rosenthal‘s stature then beat reporting has to be protected. This article is the best thing I have read in 2018. Here is a Buffery piece around the time of the original incident.

 

Over to you: mountain or molehill? 

 

Once again, a big thank you to the folks who spent time debating these topics with me over the last few weeks, as well as to those who managed to decline politely.

 


 

thanks for reading and commenting,

until next time …

mike (not really in boston)

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 28
  • comment-avatar

    I had read Shi’s story and was surprised when I later read about Manfred’s comments about the Facebook game. Public criticism from the Commissioner is a big story in this age of “everything is ok” and Davidi had to know that it would be reported by others. Such a level of ownership oversight serves neither author or reader.

    The difference between Griffin and Buffery’s filings are like night and day. Griffin’s indifference is obvious to the reader and fully justified. His history and volume of quality work speaks for itself. To use him in such a role is a sad confirmation of the Star’s poor management.

  • comment-avatar

    Thanks MIB on a very well written and thought out piece. As we all know in this ever changing world media coverage is very important and balance seems to take a back seat in all of this. Unfortunately money is always the root to the problem and bad management looks to pass along the blame without looking in the mirror at them selves.

  • comment-avatar
    Steve in Waterloo 7 months ago

    I’m mid 50’s and read at least 2 print newspapers each day, plus what I can find on the web.
    My children in their 20’s don’t touch the print version. They barely read the websites of the papers discussed above.

    BUT, they do both watch a great deal of video on their phones, and that’s pretty much how they keep up with the world.

    the Fox website dropped most writing – mostly video now. Not sure the millennial’s care one bit about the newspaper industry. It may be all for not. Thanks for the read MinB

  • comment-avatar

    The CBC News being a draw for traffic is both a sad reality and a joke. They have gone all in on ‘clicks’ and all off of hard news unless it’s a “breaking updated developing OMG top story!” in which case there will be fitiy iterations of the post spread over five days, mostly repeating 80% of another.

    Seriously, every time I visit CBC News’ website it appears to headline some cheesy “outrage” story about rewards card points, or cell-phone contracts, or airline flight delays. It’s the lowest of the low-hanging social media friendly fruit. Perhaps that is what has the newspapers up in arms? CBC is better at that last potential driver of traffic to their websites? The 400 word infotainment story that is 50 words of facts and 350 words about related stories and tenuously related events?

  • comment-avatar

    “If I can get most of what I need from the qualified journalists at the CBC then why would I need to pay for a subscription to The Star?”

    You are assuming that the Star’s reporting would be identical to the CBC. I wouldn’t, which is all the better for the public.
    Why would you want/trust all your news reporting coming from government/state media. Again, this would be against the public interest.

  • comment-avatar
    Justin 7 months ago

    The “gamer” is dead. When was the last time any of us opened the newspaper in the morning excited to read about last night’s game? We already know what happened long before. We either watched it, saw highlights, followed the game on twitter, or scrolled through the box score on our phone. Or all of the above. We have no use for a “gamer” anymore. Newspapers should stop devoting resources to producing stories that tell us only the score, who knocked in RBIs, and who got the save, topped off with milquetoast quotes from a couple of players. Who still reads these??

    However, what I described above is all you’re going to get with reporters watching games on TV. It’s a total waste of time telling us what we already know. There’s a far better path – one that I notice The Athletic is pursuing with John Lott’s stories: finding an alternate angle about the game, telling us a story about a specific player, a specific game sequence, a specific storyline independent of what went on in the game outside of it. That’s why his articles are appointment reading for me. I can’t say the same any MSM coverage of the Jays.

    In order to write stories like the ones I described above, you need to be at the games, both home and away. Perhaps if the MSM started writing more of these articles, more people would pay for their product and they’d have more resources to send reporters on the road to do the type of reporting sports fans actually want in 2018.

  • comment-avatar

    Cathal and the Masters thing doesn’t really bother me. He’s a columnist for a non-US paper, so the access he would get by being at the Masters is pretty limited, unless he was going to specifically write about the Canadians in the field, or someone further down in the golf world’s hierarchy – human interest-type stuff. He’s written about cricket and soccer recently without doing any shoe-leather reporting, and it was fine. It’s the equivalent of columnists on the editorial page opinionating without, you know, being at Kathleen Wynne’s latest campaign event or whatever. There’s value there, and people can decide for themselves how much of it.

  • comment-avatar
    Joeybutts 7 months ago

    Beat reporters brings nothing to the table in this market.  What’s the value of a journalist covering a team full time when they are afraid of reporting events that might jeopardize their reputation with players?  If auston Matthews has a concussion, everyone in the league knows but the team puts a lid on it, should a beat reporter follow internal team rules?  Sadly when a beat reporter ‘breaks’ some news that is reported on the team main feed 5 minutes later this isn’t beat reporting.  It’s useless.  

  • comment-avatar
    fortunately retired journo 7 months ago

    The CBC issue deserves its own thread but is dismissed far too casually by MIB. There are many factors contributing to the eventual death of newspapers, but a $1-billion taxpayer subsidy that allows CBC to help kill them is certainly significant. When the only daily paper left in Canada is the Globe and Mail (which seems like a pretty good bet at some point), good luck getting anyone — CBC included — to cover local issues like roads, schools, education, etc., anywhere in the country.

    It’s also silly to suggest the Star did not think this decision through carefully. The platform is burning there. Savings had to be found — what are you proposing should have been cut instead? (And BTW, I’m pretty confident it’s not just sports out-of-town coverage that has been scaled back.)

    Yes, in a perfect world beat reporters would be there every day, building relationships and being present when the very occasional big story breaks outside the playing field. But the world of newspapers ain’t even close to perfect anymore, and the vast majority of travel with teams yields game stories that no one really needs.

  • comment-avatar

    I wrote a really long post. Phone died and I lost it. No energy to redo.   Thanks for the great article and links. 

  • comment-avatar
    Original Mitch 7 months ago

    Great article.

    I’m gonna sound a little cynical here, but what’s the point of following the team for 162 games or 82 games when we live in an era where teams control the message, especially in Toronto where the 4 teams are owned by the same group who also happen to own multiple communications outlets. All these “reporters” especially the one’s with less than 15 years in the business simply get told by the team what to write and when. Matthews non-concussion is a pretty good example.
    In the old days, reporters dug for stories. Today, they are handed a piece of paper (electronically) and then tweet out that info and then include it in their story with little or no added commentary or opinion.
    Like someone said, they don’t want to upset the players or the teams. You have a scrum with the player/coach, a few reporters and a PR guy there ready to stop everything at a moment’s notice if the conversation strays from the team narrative.
    I think the Star not sending reporters to every game is a very sound business decision. Not only is there remarkable television and radio coverage of every game, but you can also get international feeds or a team’s local feeds for a different view/angle. Send your reporters to big games, obviously, but 162? Anybody who suggests that in 2018 won’t have a job for long.

  • comment-avatar
    Steve 7 months ago

    ‘’m gonna sound a little cynical here’

    Whats the difference from any other post?

  • comment-avatar
    Steve in Waterloo 7 months ago

    No where else to say this, but having read the The Globe’s sports today (05/02), there is not one story written that is not an AP or a CP article. Not one!

  • comment-avatar

    Redo it yaz. I want to read more opinions on this topic.

  • comment-avatar
    Joeybutts 7 months ago

    The golden knights got it right with hiring their own insider in Gary Lawless.  Easy enough… don’t tell me journalistic integrity is jeopardized with having their own guy reporting…  CJ works for the leafs and the god damn game is on Facebook! Just say it Rogers… were not all fools in this market

  • comment-avatar
    Liberty Village Bob 7 months ago

    Here’s a thing — everyone of consequence at The Athletic TO came from newspapers. Once those outelts stop training reporters then where will people learn the trade? Either way, we are seeing the end of s[ports journlaism as a profession and instead it will mostly be bloggers from here on out. No thanks (no offense to the writers here).

  • comment-avatar

    My guess is The Star is doing worse financially than anybody is aware of. They have to make cuts just to survive. Anybody know if reporters travel free on Jays and Raptors team charters? If so, the fact that The Star, with the largest daily circulation in Canada, can’t even afford a mid-range hotel and perdiem is distressing. 

    We know Lou kicked reporters off the Leafs charter, wonder if that will change under a new GM? Purely from a team perspective, I agree with Lou. Players are on guard at all times because of social media, mentally, they need time they can feel safe from scrutiny and the plane after a game should be one of them and I believe it leverages their performance. 

    But the Leafs are unique in the NHL in that they are 75% owned by media corporations whose CEOs sit on the MLSE Board of Directors. Likely naive, but what if the Leafs paid the estimated $500,000 per year for the media’s travel costs out of their promotional budget? (They would not miss it, cue up a Bobcat rounding error clip) Does it serve the Leafs better if reporters are harried because they are worried about getting back to their hotel to get three hours of sleep then rush to the airport and deal with all the airport BS or are the Leafs better served if that reporter gets on the team charter with the game fresh in their mind and writes an article in the quiet din  of a late night flight? (Not the game report with an 11 PM deadline article) With the massive revenue MLSE generates from the media, they should think more about leveraging that media to perform at their best. Or worse, the reporter doesn’t even go tp the game, the contrasting Buffery/Griffin example above should scare them. 
     
    But my naive proposal raises too many objectivity issues. Is a beat writer going to be as critical of playwr X if he/she knows they’ll get a cold stare getting on/off the plane or lose their seat on the plane? But, who cares? Half of them or more already get paid some or all of their income from Bell or Rogers anyway. More at risk than the sale of newspapers is sound objective journalism. 

    Rambling a bit. Thinking out loud. The issue is disturbing far beyond sports. At least The Athletic is trying and seems to be succeeding. If a Sun reporter Tweets fifty times during a Jays game do I need to read his article? Why provide free content to an outside  media company who then sells all your data to advertisers? IBut that’s another topic. I have to admit that I cannot remember the last time I bought a newspaper but I do read a lot of newspaper articles that get Tweeted – many from out of market that I otherwise would never read. 

    https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/sports/hockey/lou-lamoriellos-travel-policy-not-the-leafs-final-turbulence-in-toronto/article26595356/

  • comment-avatar

    The coverage this past week/last night of the CFL Draft by TSN was great IMO- both the TV last evening as well as the other digital stuff ie mocks/twitter/TSN GO app. coverage.
    If you are a Cdn football fan, lots of good content out there to catch up on, and to look fwd to next year.

    Note: I am just a regular guy/football fan. I have no affiliation or allegiance to TSN.
    Unfortunately, when commenting on this forum, I feel it has become necessary to provide caveats such as this or risk being slammed as an apologist or Soviet spy.

  • comment-avatar

    […] Toronto Sports Media on the decision not to send journalists on road trips and when it make sense to…. […]

  • comment-avatar

    On today’s PTS Roundtable, Brian Burke says that the Lamarello move didn’t surprise him; as it was “well known by everyone in the hockey world since last summer”.

    Sitting next to him totally stonefaced (watching on 360) is the “King of all things hockey” Shannon, who up until today has said he was surprised by the move. In reply he now says he was actually “disappointed as opposed to surprised”…. Lol.

  • comment-avatar

    Paul G.,

    Brian Burke did not say it was known since last summer. He said “… kind of common knowledge in the hockey community that this was going to happen for like the last two months”. He did also say “… chain of events that I was told took place last summer was Colorado …”. Burke says this starting around the 40 second mark.

    What I found surprising was that no one followed up when Shannon said “this to me reeks a little bit of one person lobbying Brendan to say we don’t need him (Lou) around and that person is Mike Babcock”. If true, I think friction between Babcock and Lamoriello and also Babcock’s lobbying to remove Lamoriello are important stories. Although I am doubtful that what Shannon said is true, it was certainly worth a follow-up question from the other panelists. Shannon speaks on the subject around the 2:40 mark.

    https://www.sportsnet.ca/590/prime-time-sports/leafs-didnt-want-lose-kyle-dubas/

  • comment-avatar

    I stand corrected on the quote.

  • comment-avatar
    Gary M 7 months ago

    Great article. What it really comes down to is fragmentation. People interested in the federal budget generally don’t care about the inner workings of Colby Rasmus and vice-versa. In a pick-and-pay world, most people won’t pay for both. So we have to pay for sports beat reporting directly. And only if enough people want it that someone is able to sell it. Sounds like they might not.

    I never found background stories about athletes all that interesting. Roy Halladay is focused, got it. Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green have a friendly rivalry, cool. Is Russ Martin’s dad proud? Answer: yes. The El Chapo thing was great, but you sift through a lot of ‘Devin Travis is frustrated but persistent’ to get to that.

  • comment-avatar
    Drumanchor 7 months ago

    Mountain or molehill? I take molehill.

    Ultimately, a difficult and challenging decision, yet in the long run it is the best one at this current time. Newspapers can have reporters present for the big games and if they miss the odd big behind-the-scenes moment, get on it if needed and just rehash ad nauseum until people lose interest (which doesn’t take long). Reporters, who are willing, are already adapting to their new reality. 

    A quick change of subject, but as for Raptor broadcasts, despite the mostly horrendous effort by the team, it was enjoyable watching the ABC team on Saturday. Balanced and insightful throughout with absolutely none of the never-ending Raptor apologist take we get on TSN and Sportsnet – which, by the way, has been going on since the team’s very first game. 

  • comment-avatar
    BingoBangoBongo 6 months ago

    Crickets. I’m writing this on the 20th anniversary of the airing of the last Seinfeld episode. They went away and never came back and I kind of think that’s what’s going on at this site. No one is posting except the regulars who seem to have taken over the comments section. I won’t name them but if you come here with any regularity you know who I mean. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with their views or comments. It’s just that there seem to be few others. Maybe it’s just that over the years all of the topics have been commented on. Maybe it’s that the posts seem to be fewer and without regular scheduling. I understand how difficult it is to research and write interesting essays especially considering TSM has another job and Mike (wherever he is) seems to as well. The end result, though, is crickets.
    Thanks for the hard work that went into the site. It’s much appreciated. And I mean that sincerely.

  • comment-avatar

    I hear you. I have chosen quality over quantity in terms of what I write, what I cover, and what kinds of comments get through. We could post something about Bob’s lack of knowledge about sports or business every few days but what would be the point?

    Like cars on king street, more doesn’t equate to better for business or for people. The long game is that I don’t want writing here to be a chore. If that means fewer comments, I’m willing to pay the price.

    The traffic to this site is relatively stable and doesn’t correlate with # of comments. That said, I write because I care what other people think so I do wish people would comment more. More broadly, comments sections are on the decline most places.

  • comment-avatar

    I stumbled upon your website about two years ago and am so grateful I have.  I am a 44  year old woman who loves to read about and watch most sports.  I have never commented before but definitely enjoy reading the comments from all your readers.  I enjoy reading about the behind the scenes aspects of the Toronto Sports Media landscape.  My husband thinks that may be because I love gossip.  That may be true!  My likes as far as how I get my sports news are listening to the Fan 590, watching Sportnet,  reading all the major Toronto newspapers sports sections and checking twitter for a select few journalists, some who aren’t very popular on your website.  Thanks for continuing to update this site and writing whenever you can!  And in case anyone asks…no I am not an employee of Sportsnet or Fan 590 just a happy listener!

  • comment-avatar
    BingoBangoBongo 6 months ago

    Thank you for answering as you did Mike. I see your point about quality over quantity and I can certainly appreciate the Bob comment. I might dispute the traffic though. Not that the numbers you have are wrong, but rather the way people are. If they’ve been coming to this site for a long time, as I suspect many have, it’s been almost a habit. But the lack of new content I believe will eventually lead to a drop in traffic. I may be wrong about that but it’s certainly true of me.