Rich Coutinho is a longtime colleague and knew the inevitable was coming with this change in sports media and the inevitable loss of jobs. His newly released book, “Press Box Revolution” published by Skyhorse Publishing Inc. is an inside perspective of the past, present and future of sports reporting from a thirty-year veteran.
And with the massive layoffs of talent that ESPN imposed Wednesday morning, Coutinho was right on the money. In other words, times have changed and so has the industry with a new era of sports journalism and how it is done. This columnist can relate to that change with a typewriter and fax machine that quickly went to the laptop and rapid increase of social media in the press box.
Yes, this is a new era of sports reporting and overall in all areas of journalism. From print to electronic media to the beginning of the story to the end, there has been a rapid change. More tweets than watching the game unfold, and more of a perspective of metrics and stats and less reporting.
Those let go by ESPN are aware and reading personal accounts from Coutinho provide a true and real perspective.
“Technology has evolved in a multitude of ways since the 1980’s, and I will take you through that trip that began with cassette recorders and no internet to what we have today,” says Coutinho. “Smart phones, instant messages, and multi-tasking so the fans get the inside news as quickly as possible.”
Coutinho has been there and has been a part of this adaption, as has this columnist.The reality is about a change and how we have accepted this new form of reporting up in the press box, on the field and in the locker rooms which has always been a sanctuary for the athletes.
Deadline material is now reported from a cell phone and described in brief characters on social media such as Twitter and Facebook and other outlets that cater to the fans. Years ago, as was so vividly described by Coutinho, it was a race to the press box and filing that deadline news to the editor and not relying on that instant news flash coming from social media in the press conference and locker rooms.
Yes, there has been a change and the newspaper industry is no longer. This is a new era of the internet and social media with reading becoming obsolete and more dependence on instant video and news flashes on the phone that has become the norm for those on the beat.
Coutinho has seen it on all ends of the business and appropriate that the title does fit about a Press Box Revolution. He has been there reporting for ABC Radio, ESPN New York 98.7, WFAN Radio and still covers the New York Mets. Proudly he is now a colleague and fellow columnist on this web site that is also a part of this rapid change in the press box.
And in this revolution, Coutinho has that “Hold no barred” attitude and gives accounts to those who attributed to this change also offering opinion as to what paved the way for outlets like ESPN to suddenly shift their emphasis with talent and how they report the sports news on the air and with their website.
“Ad sales dollars began to level off and the revenue model was shaky at best,” Coutinho describes about ESPN radio outlets in the chapter regarding sports talk radio and how that entity took over the airways. He says about ESPN Radio in the New York market and their attempt to overtake WFAN, “They never quite understood that to do sports talk radio in this market is impossible if you are not going to dive into the pool.”
“There have been times where the local angle was played up but they never kept it on a consistent basis. In fairness to management, Bristol, not New York runs the show there.”
Coutinho provides his perspective as ways to now backup a career in sports media. He took that route years ago and became a successful sales manager for radio networks and currently continues that success at Verizon Fios. Indeed this is that must read for the aspiring sports journalist that include accounts from Coutinho, from his first meeting with the late Howard Cosell to the various athletes he has come to know.
They are entertaining and informative in this era known as a “Press Box Revolution.”
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