Question about the Changing Landscape of Sports Journalism

By Wes Williams

Disruptive innovation is a term used by economists to describe how an existing market is disrupted by a new market.

Think about Kodak. One day it was an invincible company since it was the standard of film.  Quickly the film market was disrupted by digital cameras leading to Kodak filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012.

Cable sports channels like ESPN are becoming victims of disruptive innovation due to chord cutters dropping their $200 cable bills for on demand web platforms and bunny ears. ESPN-Red-Logo-large

Hundreds of extremely talented sports journalists at ESPN were laid off this week because viewership is down on television leading to lower than expected profits.

ESPN once feasted on television profits for years as cable companies bundled ESPN into packages. Many consumers had to pay for ESPN in order to watch the channels they wanted, even if they never watched ESPN.  With chord cutters dropping their cable subscriptions for on demand platforms like Netflix and free live TV through bunny ears, ESPN is making less money from cable companies.

Less money equals cost cutting measures like laying off talented sports journalists.

Questions about Current Sports Journalists

So what happens to the sports journalists laid off by ESPN? Do they go to local news?  Do they sign on with a team as a reporter or a play by play announcer? Do they sign at Fox Sports or NBC Sports? Do they try to make it with a blog or podcast? Do they go into a separate industry?

According to the public memo posted online, “Dynamic change demands an increased focus on versatility and value, and as a result, we have been engaged in the challenging process of determining the talent—anchors, analysts, reporters, writers and those who handle play-by-play—necessary to meet those demands.”

Versatility in sports journalism means talent must be able to appear on television, write articles for the website, utilize social media, announce live sporting events, and share opinions on radio.

Will these laid off journalists develop new skills at a different media outlet to make themselves more versatile and valuable?

Questions about potential Sports Journalists

Up until recently, potential sports journalists were evaluated on the quality of their resume tape or examples of newspaper clippings.  Going forward, potential sports journalists will probably be evaluated by their number of Twitter followers, play by play abilities, examples of radio work, web capabilities, and more on top of their traditional resume tape or newspaper clippings.

Imagine two students from a top journalism school entering the workforce after they graduate in a few weeks.

Student one excelled at the school newspaper for four years eventually rising to sports editor. This student does not do much social media because they are focused on putting out the top college newspaper nationwide. This person sends in three examples of quality newspaper work.

Student two wrote a few above average blog posts, has 500 followers on Twitter account, and once anchored a newscast for a class. This person sends in links to all of his content via his own website, which has had 2000 hits in the past few years.

Which student would a local news outlet hire? While the first seems to have the potential to be a high quality investigative journalist for a media outlet, student two might seem to be more versatile.

What is more valuable, numbers of social media followers or quality traditional journalism?

Does a sports journalist need to work for multiple companies or businesses in order to make a salary that supports a spouse and two kids?

For example, should an aspiring sports journalist work for a radio station in the morning doing a two hour show and then do play by play for a local team at night?

Does a sports journalist need to do marketing or sales for their media outlet during the day on top of their main on air position to add value to the company in the eyes of their bosses?

Content Questions

With fewer sports journalists on their payroll, it will most likely be harder for ESPN to cover sports with smaller ratings like baseball and hockey. Live events will most likely be relegated to NBA basketball, NFL football, and college football.

ESPN radio hosts will discuss these sports at length. In studio television shows will most likely have opinionated personalities break down games.

ESPN has already outsourced their nightly baseball shows to the MLB Network except on Sundays preceding the nationally televised Sunday Night Baseball game, which will now probably only feature games involving big market teams like the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs.

Will a fan of a small market team even be able to watch their local team play nightly if a regional sports network cuts back on how many games they cover?

If a fan wants news on their local baseball or hockey team, where will that person turn?

Will the person turn to team reporters on the team’s website, who might be biased since they are on the team’s payroll?

Will Fox Sports or NBC Sports fill in the gaps for fans of baseball, hockey, and college sports? FloSoftball-logo

Will other web companies like FloSports enter the market by charging a fee to watch content from sports cut by ESPN?

Bottom Line

Sports journalism changed this week leaving lots of questions for sports journalists and fans. It will be fascinating how all of this shakes out.


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MLB Betting Odds for So Cal Teams

Opening day is only 48 hours away for Southern California Major League Baseball teams so now is your time to get your last second futures bets for the Los Angeles Angels, Los 6153882123_06f4913fc7_bAngeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres.

Odds to win World Series according to Bovada

Dodgers +900

Angels +4000

Padres + 15000


Odds to win Pennant according to Bovada

Dodgers +500

Angels 30/1 +2200

Padres 250/1 +6600


Odds to win division according to Bovada 


Dodgers -210

Angels + 750

Padres +5000





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Make Baseball Fun Again

Baseball fans were treated to an October playoff game in March as the Dominican Republic came back from five runs down in sixth inning to beat the United States seven to five in the World Baseball Classic.

Besides the classic comeback, there was something else I noticed that made the game even more special. It was the passion of the Dominican Republic fans before, during, and after the game.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports expressed this an article last night,  “(the passion) was evident Saturday night, when the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game at Marlins Park came equipped with hundreds of literal Banderas Dominicanas and drums and horns and whistles and the spirit of a tiny, poor, proud island nation ready to topple the one that created the game.”

All sorts of rules are being considered to speed up baseball games to appeal to younger fans.  Runners placed on second in extra innings, fewer pitching changes, and other rules would speed up a game, but maybe Major League Baseball should think in a different direction.

Imagine coming to Dodger Stadium with horns, drums, and whistles. cropped-dodgerstadiumbanner.jpg

Imagine celebrations of homers like Manny Machado, Nelson Cruz, and Starling Marte’s where the entire bench welcomed them at home plate.

Now imagine security taking away the horns, drums, and whistles upon entering the stadium since they would ruin the experience of other fans. Imagine MLB pitchers beaning the next batter for a home run celebration for showing them up, an unwritten rule of the game.

Baseball needs more bat flips from Jose Bautista and Yasiel Puig. Baseball needs more fans breaking into loud songs in unison.

Baseball is fun already for true fans, but it could try to be even more fun for future fans.

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Important Dates for Baseball Fans

cwl-logo-black-text-thumbnailBaseball in Palm Springs is ending soon as the California Winter League comes to a close on February 12th. In the week between the start of Major League baseball’s Arizona Cactus League, baseball fans should venture out to a college baseball ballpark.

Southern California boasts some of the best college baseball programs in the nation.  Below are the dates of opening day for local colleges.

USC– February 17 vs Coppin State2000px-interlocking_usc_logo-svg

UCLA– February 17 vs San Jose Stateucla_bruins_script_logo

Long Beach State– February 17 vs Oklahoma

Cal State Northridge– February 17 vs Portland

Cal State Fullerton– February 17 vs Stanford

2000px-csuf_titans_logo-svgUC Irvine– February 17 vs Minnesota

UC Riverside– February 17 vs Nebraska

College of the Desert– February 10 vs West LA

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National Bobblehead Day Should be Moved

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When the Dodgers promotional schedule comes out in the winter, I always circle bobblehead nights as games I must attend. Bobbleheads are awesome for man caves or offices. When people walk into my office, the most common thing they do is touch the #bobbleheads on my desk and watch the head nod up and down.
Celebrating these awesome toys is a great idea, but the organizers screwed up by making National Bobblehead Day in January. Bobbleheads are associated with baseball and baseball season starts in spring. The celebration should occur in April in association with the start of the baseball season. Baseball Antiques Bobbleheads Figures Vintage
I understand that not all bobbleheads are baseball related. I have Los Angeles Kings and Lakers bobbleheads along with my dozens of Dodgers bobbleheads. But I think the general public associates bobbleheads with baseball more than any other sport or activity.
Every team MLB team celebrates opening day, but why couldn’t the second or third day of the season be NationalBobbleheadDay?

Who Starts in September?

How many starting pitchers can the Los Angeles Dodgers use in a single season and still be in contention for the playoffs?

6153882123_06f4913fc7_bThis is a question Dodgers President Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers front office are probably asking themselves right now as the team moves Clayton Kershaw to the 60 day disabled list and relatively unknown starting pitcher Brock Stewart is shelled against the Rockies.

If every pitcher is healthy, Friedman has the good problem of having too many quality starting pitchers.

In a perfect world, the Friedman and Manager Dave Roberts would have the following pitchers to choose from in September. Who should they choose to be in the five man starting rotation?

Clayton Kershaw

Kenta Maeda

Bud Norris

Scott Kazmir

Brandon McCarthy

Brock Stewart

Brett Anderson

Rich Hill

Hyun Jin Ryu

Julio Urias

Alex Wood

Jose DeLeon

Ross Stripling

Contracts aside, which of the above pitchers should round out the starting rotation in 2017?

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First Just the Scores Podcast

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Everyday Southern California sports fans drive to work, they are subjected to the same boring trade rumors and Johnny Manzel gossip on national radio.  National radio ignores Coachella Valley sports, so Reiff Media is introducing the short Just the Scores Podcast.  The goal is to give listeners what they way, a short podcast to update them on sports from the Coachella Valley, Inland Empire, and all over Southern California.

Below is the first Just the Scores Podcast from Reiff Media. More episodes will follow.


Future Leadoff Hitter?

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One of the young Cubans stars signed by the Dodgers is starting to shine in Rancho Cucamonga and could be the leadoff hitter of the future.

Five tool outfielder Yusniel Diaz is starting to show the skills the Dodgers thought were worth $15.5 million.

The 19 year old is hitting .300 in his last five games with two homeruns and nine RBIs after struggling early in the season.

According to Keith Law of ESPN, Diaz shows speed and the ability to hit to all fields. In spring training, he even saw Diaz single off of White Sox ace Chris Sale.8a02aeh3orl7bg7ovkzf

While Diaz only has one steal on the season, Diaz has used the speed to stretch two doubles into triples so far this season.  As Diaz matures and figures out the pickoff moves of California League pitchers, the steals are sure to increase.

Dave Roberts loves to play small ball and has done so far this year without a true leadoff hitter. Diaz could be his true leadoff hitter in a few years if he continues to progress in the Dodgers minor league system.

Just Hang Tight

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As spring training comes to an end, the rash of Dodger injuries continue.

The latest two injuries are to starting right fielder Yasiel Puig, who sat out Saturday’s game with tightness in his hamstring, and Scott Kazmir, who left his last start early with abdominal tightness.

Some injuries are more serious than others, but this is the most up to date list of Dodger injuries.

The rash of Dodgers injuries is getting out of hand and some pundits and fans are writing off the season.  But there is hope if the Dodgers can stay tight in the race until the middle of the season.

As teams in the pennant race make big moves to bring in weapons for the stretch run, the Dodgers will essentially be getting weapons for free as their own players come off of the disabled list.

Rather than trading prospects for big arms mid season, the Dodgers will get Hyun-jin Ryu, Brandon McCarthy, and possibly Brett Anderson back. Rather than salvaging the farm for an offensive weapon, the Dodgers will be getting Andre Eithier back.

In the meantime, the Dodgers goal should be to stay within striking distance of the Giants and Diamondbacks until Ryu, McCarthy, Anderson, and Eithier come back. When those four players do come back, the Dodgers will be in good shape to take over the National League West and make a playoff run assuming they are not more than ten games back in the standings.