Changes in the newspaper industry have been coming for years. Almost everyone under the age of 70 gets their news from the internet, and with the addition of live streaming of events, more fans watch the games and see and hear analyses almost instantly. Physical papers, with the old-fashioned morning (or afternoon) delivery, now contain mostly old hockey news. Almost everyone already knows what happened in the game by morning, which is at least in part why we stick to analysis.
But this switch in hockey news reading not only has changed how hockey people get their news; it also has changed how it is created. There is no more evidence of this than during hockey game intermissions, when beat writers stay in their seats to post updates to their blogs and begin to write their internet stories, which will be posted almost immediately after the game and interviews are completed.
This new reality has been accompanied by another; the fact that large media conglomerates have been gobbling up smaller news organizations; and large conglomerates are much more bottom-line driven. So, it is inevitable that there would be changes in personnel. After all, in corporate -think terms, why keep on two or three employees to report on the same team, when they can use one person to write for all the “papers.”
Yesterday, another layoff domino fell when one of our own in the New York Rangers’ community–long-time Journal News Rangers’ writer Rick Carpiniello–was laid off by Gannett Papers. Carpy had covered the team for almost 40 years, wrote excellent game reviews and was a team insider. We did not always agree with his opinions, but he had an knowledgeable opinion, and he could be counted on to get the Blueshirts’ news out there to fans. There are not that many beat reporters left, and there are none that diligently covered the team with anywhere near Carpiniello’s homespun flare.
Gannett says that it will use its North Jersey media group and USA Today team to cover the Blueshirts. We are not sure if that means that Andrew Gross will come back to selectively cover the Rangers or someone else will be assigned on a game-by-game basis. And we are not sure whether anyone from Gannett will cover the team in any depth beyond game reports.
It all remains to be seen. But one thing is sure. There are fewer and fewer beat reporters consistently in the room, which means fewer considered opinions about what is going on with the team. Yes, there are more blogs out there, and there are many opinions about the team. But nothing can take the place of a sportswriter who makes his or her living (ie, is there every day) following the team and digging out the news. Nothing can replace their sources.
So, today we are all a little poorer. Thank you, Carpy. May you find greener pastures (quickly).