Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game

By George Castle | Go to book overview

NINE
The Red and Blue States of
Baseball Journalism

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Rich Levin, his ever present public relations chief, may not be fully aware of a problem on their hands, having been smothered in a cocoon of national, bignewspaper and broadcast-outlet coverage that tails them wherever they go.

Their beloved game, which has long depended upon the printed word to spread its aura and legend, is actually suffering a rollback in original newspaper coverage in America's heartland—the “red states” as first defined in the 2000 election, then codified four years later.

Simply put, if you are a baseball fan in the wide swath of the world's breadbasket in between the mountain ranges, you'll be hardpressed to enjoy a diversity of original, comprehensive media coverage of baseball unless you live in the actual big league markets.

Smaller dailies in the outer ring of fan-interest geographic areas, and even those within a short drive of big-league ballparks, have in many cases rolled back staff-originated baseball coverage, using nuts-and-bolts, down-the-middle Associated Press accounts. A combination of money-saving, profits-preserving management styles is the culprit, one that gathered the momentum of a hurricane with two thousand jobs lost in the newspaper industry during 2005. Added to that was an additional groping by management for a local “niche” that other outlets cannot supply in a hyper-competitive media world. In the place of baseball and other pro coverage is “narrowcasting” to the tenth degree: reams of high school sports and other community and amateur athletic copy that appeals to far fewer readers in aggregate, but also is much more economical to produce.

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