Posted By Jeff Fletcher on February 28, 2009 11:19 am
I’m still all worked up this morning, even though I probably shouldn’t be taking this so personally. What got me started was this article on Fangraphs about how great it is that non-traditional, free content has sprouted in the baseball media in the wake of dying newspapers. The author of that article, Dave Cameron, didn’t mean to infer that the death of newspapers is a pleasant result of the rise of blogs, but rather an unpleasant side effect.
However, it’s clear that many of the people who have commented on his story and mine do not feel that way. Many of them — and feel free to ignore this if you aren’t in this group — have said: “Good riddance to those reporters. We don’t need them.”
It just really strikes a nerve with me when people fail to see the value of mainstream, professional, trained reporters. (I’m referring to those whose work appears on the web, as well as newspapers.)
I get plenty of emails asking me about what the Giants front office is doing (free agent moves, trades, etc.). Frankly, all I can tell them is what I read in the Chronicle, the Mercury News and MLB.com. The Giants don’t exactly invite the public in on their internal discussion, and it takes the hard work of professional reporters to seek those answers. It is work that you just can’t do unless you have experience, access and — to be honest — someone paying you to do it.
Even on the easier stuff — “What’s the plan for Madison Bumgarner this year? Why did you take out Lincecum after 120 pitches? Why stick with Frandsen-Burriss instead of going after Orlando Hudson? What position is Angel Villalona going to play?” — you need someone there to ask the questions.
If you are a pure between-the-lines fan and have no interest whatsoever in profiles of players or finding out who might have used steroids, there is still plenty of on-field stuff you need reporters to ask for you.
Sure, you can argue that a lot of reporters don’t fully understand VORP or Win Shares, or maybe even that they don’t use the right criteria in voting for the Hall of Fame, but none of that is the critical part of the reporter’s job. A reporter’s job is to report everything you can’t get by watching a game or reading the box score, which is a lot of stuff. A lot more than (some of) you realize because you take it for granted.
In the meantime, every time a newspaper shuts down or a reporter loses his job, some of that information is lost.
And that isn’t good for anyone.