In the past few years with the slumping economy, the dwindling circulation numbers in newspapers, the poor business plans that most had when it came to the on-line product, the invention of Craig's List that killed classified advertising and slumping ad buys, we have watched as coverage has dwindled. Newspapers are smaller, coverage is being cheated and reporters are being let go.
In baseball coverage, it's no different, long-time writers like Murray Chass, Gordon Edes and others have been forced out of their jobs as newspapers tried lower payroll. Here in the Northwest, my good friends John Hickey and David Andriesen found themselves without jobs when the P-I closed.
In the last 24 hours, we found out that Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News will retire after this season after covering the Cincinnati Reds for 37 years.
How good is McCoy, well he's already in the hall of fame as the winner of the J.G. Spink Award in 2001. MLB's Jim Street wrote about Griffey giving McCoy a call when he got the news.
This isn't a voluntary retirement per se. McCoy decided to retire when he was informed that that the Daily News will stop sending a beat reporter on road trips with the Reds and change drastically how it covers the team. And McCoy didn't want to be a part of that change, or give up a vital aspect of how a team is covered.
Obviously, the business is changing. I know a week ago we had this argument about bloggers vs. writers and such. I'm not going there. The way a team is covered is different. But McCoy blogged like all of us do. He may not have completely embraced the new way, but he didn't rebel against the changing times. Heck, he even blogged his goodbye.
For as much as the old guard isn't a fan of the new technology, they still do it. It's part of their job and they do so, knowing there are plenty of willing writers to make such concessions. New social networking like Twitter and Facebook aren't necessarily going to be embraced, but blogging has become part of beat coverage like it or not.
However what worries me and I'm sure Larry on some level as well is the idea of truly covering a beat - meaning traveling on the road. Several newspapers have cut travel for beats, and others like the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram are sharing their beat coverage of teams.
It may seem like a luxury to be with the team on the road, but it isn't a vacation by any means, and the news you can gather, the rapport built with the players and just being with team enhances our coverage in a way that a simple AP story from a local writer won't provide. In the last two seasons, I've come to see the value in it. You get little tidibts of information, little things that can lead to something big. Just look at Larry's relationship with Erik Bedard. Bedard talks to very few people media related, but he will talk candidly and openly (well, as well as he's capable of) with Larry. That's something that has to be built.
It's like the blog title of "Mariners Insider" - can you really be an insider if you only cover half of the games?
I hope it never does, but there may come a day when the News Tribune is faced with making tough decisions like the Daily News had to make.
My question to you is this:
If the News Tribune stopped traveling with teams like the Mariners and Seahawks and covering as we have done, would you continue to still go to the TNT or its website for coverage of those teams?