In sports, the death of 'What happened'
I had the headline first.
I’m not sure if it’s perfect, but I’m keeping it.
Because that’s what it feels like and, honestly, what it’s been feeling like more and more for a long, long time.
Sunday, in a note to readers, the Los Angeles Times penciled the following:
Today, we are introducing a new era for the Los Angeles Times sports section.
The printed sports section will take on the look and feel of a daily sports magazine, with a different design showcasing our award-winning reporting and photography. Our new layout highlights our best, most ambitious sports journalism — distinctive work you cannot find anywhere else.
We are making this change to adapt to how readers follow news and sporting events each day while managing rising production costs. You no longer will see box scores, standings and traditional game stories, but those will be replaced by more innovative reporting, in-depth profiles, unique examinations of the way teams operate, investigations, our distinct columnists’ voices, elite photography and more.
Then, Monday, The New York Times dropped this on its readers, not with a note, but with two staffers reporting the goings-on at their own paper, treating it as a real news story, warts and all.
The New York Times said on Monday that it would disband its sports department and rely on coverage of teams and games from its website The Athletic, both online and in print.
“Joe Kahn, The Times’s executive editor, and Monica Drake, a deputy managing editor, announced the change to the newsroom as “an evolution in how we cover sports.”
“We plan to focus even more directly on distinctive, high-impact news and enterprise journalism about how sports intersect with money, power, culture, politics and society at large,” the editors wrote in an email to The Times’s newsroom on Monday morning. “At the same time, we will scale back the newsroom’s coverage of games, players, teams and leagues.”
The shuttering of the sports desk, which has more than 35 reporters and editors, is a major shift for The Times. The department’s coverage of games, athletes and team owners, and its Sports of The Times column in particular, were once a pillar of American sports journalism.
For disclaimer purposes, it’s possible the NYT sports section will actually improve, The Athletic employing hundreds more staffers than the Times’ sports section, perhaps, ever has. Just maybe, it can be done right.
Yet, one wonders, because there’s a next day, catching-everybody-up ethos to done-right newspapering — something much bigger than stories under headlines on pages — that’s hard to mimic if it’s never been in your bones.
Like, there’s no days off because there’s no days off, and parachuting into something might work in a vacuum, but there’s no vacuum because, don’t you know, there’s no days off.
Hey, it’s Clay. Though I try to give away as much content as I can here at Oklahoma Columnist, the venture remains made possible by paid subscriptions. If you’ve yet to take that plunge, but would like to help me keep track of another Sooner football season, the rest of Sooner sports and everything else you’ll find here at Oklahoma Columnist, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription. As always, thanks for reading. It’s never taken for granted.
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