Today, the details are leaking out involving the layoffs at ESPN. While the network prefaced its initial remarks about the majority being non on-air talent, common sense indicated there would be some big names who would not have their contracts renewed.
If you’re going to do it to save money, it accomplishes little laying off the folks who run errands and get coffee for everyone. Older and higher paid people are always the first to go no matter what the industry.
That’s what is happening now, and I’m sorry to see it happen. I’ve seen it in a lot of industries and even experienced it myself. You wake up one morning and find out it’s apparently illegal to be good at what you do, but over 50 and make a good salary. The fact that you did a great job is irrelevant.
But then I saw a tweet from Bob Ley, a long-time ESPN personality who is very well respected. He said “trying to remain objective and unemotional as I learn of the ESPN members laid off today. Not possible. Not as I see countless decades of journalist experience, and expertise jettisoned. Just when we need it most. Enjoy the DIS stock price and your NFL football.”
While sympathetic, Ley might as well have held up a sign that says “I don’t get it.”
I’d argue that when it comes to sports journalism, the kind being practiced now is needed less than ever. There was a time before every event known to man was televised that you needed an experienced set of eyes on ears at games to not only tell you what happened, but put it all in perspective.
Was it a bench clearing brawl that was completely unwarranted, or were there more subtle things going on? Was it a bad pass by the QB or did the receiver run the wrong route? Was it a foul that cost the home team the game, or was that just an excuse for some other failure in strategy or execution? Was the loss caused by poor coaching or poor recruiting that resulted in less talented players?
Now, however, you get to see every play of every game complete with multiple replays from every angle. You don’t need to be told what happened, you can watch it for yourself and make up your own mind. You can look up all the statistics and watch past games to determine a trend. You can watch the post-game press conferences and hear the answers straight from the coaches’ mouths without anything thing being edited, truncated or otherwise put in a particular context.
You can even express that opinion to the world via a blog, podcast or other self-published entity. Many are doing just that.