Ask Gary: How will the Trib’s loss affect coverage?

by Gary Shelton on May 7, 2016 · 0 comments

in general


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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Now that the Tampa Bay area is down to one newspaper, do you think the lack of competition produces more inferior (lazier) sports reporting and/or writing? Perhaps not with the Tampa Bay  Times but in general? How much of the competition factor affected your work as a journalist?

Barry McDowell​

I think there was a time that might have been the case. You can argue that a lot of communities got a lazier product.

I don't think that's the way anymore, though. I think the internet is a different kind of competition for the newspaper guy, one that can take today's press conference and plaster it everywhere before the next day's editions.

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That means that today's beat writer is pushing it harder than ever with blogs and tweets and video. I certainly wouldn't call the writers lazy. Overworked, maybe. I feel for them.

I've said it before, but where I lose my sympathy is for the guys who wrote on the team but never, ever show up. One nationally known correspondent for the Bucs actually lives in Europe. What the hell can a guy living in Europe tell you about the team you love?

To me, it's a challenge for the reader to find the reporters who matter and those who do not.

 I am distressed about the Tribune's demise.  I knew intellectually, that one paper was bound to die.  But to lose Fennelly, Ira, Roy, Joey, Erik, etc. all at once, is a sad day for Tampa Bay sports.
I have heard that the Times made an offer to keep Fennelly. Is that true?  Is it true, that the Times jerked Erik around after telling him to come back to Tampa?  I heard that they didn't want to pay for his trip AND turned his phone off.  That is reprehensible.  I am over the Times.  Could all of you guys join together and come up with a killer sports site like a Florida version of ESPN?  I know  that ESPN has local versions in Boston, Chicago, etc.   They should snap all you guys up at once.  What do you think?
Jim Willson
Speaking for myself, I'm snappable. On the other hand, there has been some belt-tightening at ESPN, too. One thing is that local versions in Boston, Chicago, New York have all been absorbed by the mothership. To me, I always thought ESPN needed an "ESPN Florida'' site. Three NFL teams. Two baseball teams. Two hockey teams. Two NBA teams. Three power five football teams.
I've heard that Martin will be absorbed, too. We exchanged emails very briefly the day it happened, so I don't know for sure. I'm pulling for the guy, though.
I like the idea of a Tampa Bay site with all of us. Maybe Eddie DeBartolo could finance it. Maybe Hooters.  You wouldn't have to charge a ton.
I had heard it was the Tribune, not the Times, that messed with Erik. I don't know for sure, but he was on a Trib trip. It seems as if they would have to bring him home.
I know this. There will be good journalists left out. And that's a shame.

What will the merger of the Times and Tribune mean to sports coverage in the Tampa Bay area?

Cecil DeBald

Cecil, you're being kind to call it a merger. The Times bought the Tribune and, except for a few exceptions, it will be the Times that Tribune readers get. They'll keep a few writers, but not as many as you might think.

That's the way it's done. In Denver, in Dallas, wherever one paper has absorbed the other, it's been a shame.

What does it mean here? It means fewer professional voices, fewer takes if you will. In the past, Rick Stoud of the Times might have written about Jameis Winston and Roy Cummings about Gerald McCoy. Now, you'll only get one of those.

It's business, and I know there is nothing evil about it. But it feels wrong to a lifelong newspaper guy.

Please comment about your colleagues at the Tampa Bay Trib. What advice would you give them at this point in their careers as sports journalists. What are their options in this point of their careers? Radio? TV? Blog? New cities? Full retirement? What does a newspaper offer a veteran reporter when something like this occurs (pension available?). I feel bad for them. I usually read both Trib and Times writers.

Rick Martin

Rick, it's hard for them. It's a terrible time for newspaper guys (as I found out).

I think different guys have different options. A couple will be picked up by the Times to keep the Trib subscribers happy. I've heard that a couple of them might headed for internet sites. There isn't much on radio or TV for a newspaper guy, as I found out. Some will transition to public relations or blogs.

The problem with new cities is that the newspaper game stinks in other towns, too. A couple might turn to blogs, like I did, but you don't get rich here, either.

Different papers offer different things. When my buddy Filip Bondy was bought out at the New York Daily News, he got almost a year. I got three months. As I read, the Trib writers will get two months.

I feel terrible for the Trib. Honestly. When you work in press boxes, you spend an unusual amount of time traveling with those guys, sometimes eating with them, working beside them in the press box.

I don't know what kind of pension plan they had. Ira Kauffman might be close enough to retirement, but the other writers are young.

Will the Rays' 2016 highlight according to manager Cash next October be "Let's not forget...the team did achieve a .500 record on April 26th at 10-10. We intend to build on this positive development next season."

Howard Powders

Hah. It could be a very large part of it. "Ah, the night we won our 10th."

Actually, the local teams are pretty good about highlighting bad seasons. You're talking about an area where the Bucs have had 27 losing seasons, the Lightning 13 and the Rays 13,

I know you were going for the giggle, but I remember the year that Ray Perkins got fired. That year, he wasn't even mentioned in the team's highlight video. He wasn't even here, according to the highlight tape. It was all about young stars and new directions and those moments when the team won its three games. Yep, we've got it figured out now.

I imagine you would get a lot of Logan Fosythe, a catch or three by Kevin Kiermaier and Curt Casali's walkoff hit the other night. The team has hit some home runs, so that would be there.

After that, we have filler.

This is a math question.

Considering that the Yankees have just been given $26 million of public money for renovations to Steinbrenner Field/Himes Player Development Complex even though

-- the current agreement with the Yankees does not mandate additional public money going to Steinbrenner Field/Himes training complex.

-- the Yankees do not need any more public money

-- the Yankees are not going anywhere else for spring training

-- there are far better uses of $26 million of public money,
then how much public money do you think the Rays will get when they build their new stadium?

My guess is that Stu Sternberg has already likely concluded that if the local elected officials are willing to give $26 million to the Yankees, when there is absolutely no reason to do so, for a venue where meaningless spring training games are played, then these same elected officials will certainly fork over an order of magnitude greater amount of public money for the "home team" to play its regular season games.

Gary, what say you?

Scott Myers

I think the imaginary stadium just got curtains, is what I think.

I don't think that Rays were going to ask for too little money before this deal, but I certainly don't know how the city keeps the spending down now. I'm sure the politics of it will have the Rays talking about how much they'll give, but in the end, I'm not sure how much negotiating room Tampa has left itself with.

Still, it's hard to get a new stadium built. No politician wants one approved on his watch. Not if he wants to be reelected. I think it will still be a thorny issue with a lot of voters on each side.

Personally, I'll be glad when it's done ... one way or the other.

I was reading Jerry Angelo's response to Leaf and Manziel, and Tunsil, and I was wondering: How much responsibility, moral, ethical and from a good business practices sense, does an NFL team have when drafting a kid with known issues, and giving them piles of money that most of them never experienced? Should it be more than just "be good, it's in your contract"?

Cecil DeBald

Cecil, it pretty much boils down to that. A guy is either about the right things, or he isn't. No one had to write contract clauses to make Derrick Brooks a good guy. No one had to put weight clauses in Lee Roy Selmon's contract.

The hardest thing in life to do is to turn an irresponsible guy into a responsible one. There is no contract you can structure that would make Manziel a good guy, that would make JaMarcus Russell dedicated or Aaron Hernandez passionate about his team.

Bad guys are bad guys. All a team can do is to research it as well is possible and avoid train wrecks.

The Penguins are up 3-1 over the Caps, I suppose it's in the best interest of the Lightning for the Caps to come back and make it a 7 game series, but which team is a better match-up for the Lightning in the conference championship, assuming for a moment we get there?

Cecil DeBald

I think the Penguins, despite their firepower, are the better matchup. Washington was the best team in the Eastern Conference for most of the year, and Alex Ovechkin may be the best player. Right now, the Penguins are hot, though.

I think either team would be slight favorites to beat the Lightning. But if Tampa Bay can get Stamkos and Stralman back, who knows? You certainly aren't going to bet against a team that has been as resilient as the Bolts.

As well as the Bolts are playing without Stammer, if you were Yzerman, would you be more inclined to let him walk now?

Jim Willson

I think most fans would be more inclined. They've seen that the future isn't at the wasteland they may have believed. Thy can still win without him.

Still, I'd like to see Stamkos back. I'm a big fan of his on the ice and off. But I still say that if making the most dollars means the most to him, then he'll go. If other things matter, and if the Bolts get close financially, I think he might stay.

I saw Dave Andreychuk said the other day that he thinks Stamkos stays. But none of us know how much Andreychuk knows. Does Stamkos talk to him? I doubt Yzerman does.

I do get the feeling that a lot of fans, fans who are willing to love Stamkos, are getting kind of weary of the conversation.

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