What a Tangled Web They Weave

On January 14 I posted an article titled, “Baseball and Blogs.” Among other subjects, I wrote about how major league baseball organizations continue to give near-monopolistic preference to mainstream media such as newspapers while ignoring, if not disdaining, Web sites and blogs.

I noted that, with subscriptions declining, newspapers are struggling to find a way to survive in the Internet era, somehow trying to find a balance between electronic and print media while those of us who’ve been on the Web all along are still treated as if we don’t exist — or, even worse, as a threat.

Which is why I was quite amused by an article in the Business section of today’s Los Angeles Times.

“The Times Shifts Its Focus to Web” was the article’s title.

I encourage you to read the entire article, but here are the most interesting excepts:


Los Angeles Times Editor James E. O’Shea unveiled a major initiative Wednesday to combine operations of the newspaper and its Internet site — a change he said was crucial to ensuring that The Times remains a premier news outlet.

O’Shea employed dire statistics on declining print advertising revenue to urge The Times’ 940 journalists to throw off a "bunker mentality" and view latimes.com as the paper’s primary vehicle for delivering news.

In his first significant action since becoming editor in mid-November, O’Shea said he would create the position of editor for innovation and launch a crash course for journalists to push ahead the melding of the newspaper and its website.

O’Shea named Business Editor Russ Stanton to the innovation post and said the "Internet 101" course would teach reporters, editors and photographers to become "savvy multimedia journalists," able to enhance their writing with audio and video reports. He emphasized the need for speed in reforming an operation that he called "woefully behind" the competition.


Forgive me for laughing.

FutureAngels.com is part of that competition they’re "woefully behind." I’ve been posting audio interviews since 1999, and video highlight clips since 2002. Not to mention doing all the photos too, this blog I started three months ago, and the podcast that debuted last week.

And that’s just me. Alone.

Despite all that, I and other Web sites are treated by major league teams’ Media Relations as non-entities or threats to the established order. Yet here’s the Times trying to train their scribes to be not just reporters, but also how to file audio and video files.

You can bet the Angels Media Relations will make sure to help the Times try to file their webcasts, while those of us who’ve been doing it for years will continue to be shunned.

It just drips with irony.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud O’Shea for making a bold move to take the Times into the 21st Century. I hope he turns around the paper. The reporting is light-years beyond the Orange County Register. But at the same time, it seems to be a tacit admission that FutureAngels.com and other Web sites have been on the right track all these years. Yet Major League Baseball continues to shun us.

Anyway, I recommend you read the article, and the entire text of O’Shea’s address to the Times staff.

This article is copyright © 2007 Wordsmith Resources and FutureAngels.com. It may not be used elsewhere without the prior expressed written permission of the author.

3 Comments

I don’t know if it’s the desire to cut out the online/blog media as much as it is the desire to avoid dealing with people who – despite their passion – do not have an adequate background in journalism/writing. There is a reason you spend a number of years in journalism school… It’s not THAT easy to write without bias, which is what a reporter is supposed to do (columnists are a different matter). As well, there is no accountability for bloggers and some would purposely (or by mistake) misrepresent quotes, etc. from players and management and how do you control that as an organization? As well, how do you pick which bloggers can gain media credentials? Most teams have enough “traditional” media to deal with that they could not handle another 15 or 20 “reporters.” It’s truly a slippery slop, but I agree newspaper people are woefully behind the times… And I speak as a newspaper editor who has been covering baseball online (in my spare time) for four years.

as much as i appreciate your reporting and opinionating Stephen, i disagree the premise the Times is “woefully behind” FA.com. the simple fact is they have much more resources than you. I’m guessing you link to their stories about once/week, how many times do they link to your site, or quote you? yeah, a lot of us appreciate the stories and in depth look you provide from Little Rock or Cedar Rapids, and like the video/audio you contribute, but you know how profitable that is. if its a big enough story, the Times will send some one out there. in an ideal world, they’d affiiliate with you and/or report more themselves on the minors, but i guess its all driven by eeconomics. i think most of us going to the web are looking for ‘news’, or ‘the latest’ – that’s why i go to the Times each and every day. Here? i go when i have time. again, the bottom line is they just have more resources than you or any other blogger does – and that makes them way ahead.

Oh boy! Thanks for getting me started here. Two weeks ago today (Thursday, Jan 25, in fact, the day this article was posted), our local LA ESPN radio station hosts (Mason and Ireland) talked about this same subject. The actual story line was about a Yahoo writer who first broke the news of a possible tape of Reggie Bush admitting to NCAA violations. The intro’d with some commentary about how online sources, like Yahoo, have been raiding newspapers of some of their best writers. This particular writer had worked in the south and mostly the Florida area. They mentioned the writer who took over Ross Newhan’s prestigious column in the times. I believe his name is Tim Brown and he now write for Yahoo and he was given as an example of writers moving online.

As a Times reader for many years I do feel like I have some ability to react to these other two comments, so I will. First, I reject the notion that a reporter must go to journalism school. At least for the reason given. There may be other semi-valid reasons but I most definitely reject this one. One of the main reasons I stopped reading the Left Angeles Times as a whole was their patent INabilty to report “news” in an unbiased manner. It became, in effect, commentary to the point it was unreadable. From sales of the paper it would appear I’m not the only one who has some sort of problem with the paper. More specific to our discussion, their reporting of Angels/Dodgers events was little more than the information I could have gleaned from the box score, sans reportage (Angels) or the same idea with a giant injection of “puff” (Dodgers). No, the ability to do more and better research via the internet was a source of great joy to me in the early 90’s and I have never looked back.

Second, I reject the necessity of going to the Times or latimes.com each and every day for anything, much less baseball news since Ross Newhan retired. While I do not get all my info from futureangels.com (Has anyone noticed that daily news is not their mission? The clue is in the name of the site; see the part that says “future”?) I find this site a valuable resource that, yes, I check daily in conjunction with others.

If newspapers want to see sales continue to decline they will persist in this attitude that they are the only way to find anything out about current affairs. MLB clubs might want to check on the sites of some of these budding reporters and add them to the “family” when they see their ability reach a certain level, or whatever, as the internet has the immediacy many of us now consider essential.

In the meantime, Stephen, keep up the good work!

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