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Sunday, December 23, 2007

ESPN is worse than the Yankees--NY Times

  • Like other newspapers, the NY Times is losing valued sports reporters to ESPN. They can't compete with the money and perks offered (and Bristol, Ct. is easily accessible to any reporter who might briefly have thought New York was home base.--sm). The Times article is titled, "The Top Player in this League? It May be the Sports Reporter," by Richard Perez-Pena, 12/24/07.
NY Times: "A few teams are rich and getting richer, hunting more avidly than ever for talent, raiding the less-endowed leagues, poaching free agents and bidding the prices of star players to unheard-of heights.

ESPN and Yahoo Sports are on a furious hiring binge, offering reporters and columnists more than they ever imagined they could make in journalism. And ESPN, in particular, has gone after the biggest stars at newspapers and magazines, signing them for double and triple what they were earning — $150,000 to $350,000 a year for several writers, and far more for a select handful.

  • The competition for writers has even produced bidding wars, especially for big-name columnists like Rick Reilly (from Sports Illustrated to ESPN), Howard Bryant (from The Post to ESPN) and Selena Roberts (from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated) — but also for less widely known reporters. People who were briefed on the deals said that Mr. Reilly’s contract, easily the biggest of the recent signings, was worth more than $3 million a year.

It’s the exact same model as what happened to athletes,” said Leigh Steinberg, a top sports agent. “We’re seeing free agency for sports journalists.”

  • He and Scott Boras, the agent for Alex Rodriguez and other stars, said that change had no doubt already produced an unnoticed milestone: In a sports locker room somewhere, in an interview between a prominent reporter and a low-level player, the scribe is the better-paid person in the conversation.

Rising demand for star sportswriters, driven by rising television and Internet revenue, coincides with the declining fortunes of newspapers, which has left fewer jobs and less money to go around for most journalists. The paradox is not lost on the lucky few who benefit....

For some newspaper reporters, the appeal of a place like ESPN is not just the money but the vastly expanded audience, the ability to became a brand name, available through several media formats....

  • The change has been more jarring for the biggest newspapers, like USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. They have always lost the occasional writer to a better offer from a magazine or from television, but not on this scale....
From NY Times article by Richard Perez-Pena, "The Top Player in this League? It May be the Sports Reporter," 12/24/07

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