ESPN’s recent massive layoff wasn’t exactly a surprise, if you were observing the landscape closely. Big pro sports deal (high cost), declining subscriber base (less money), something had to give. It also gives aspiring sports journalists pause; where to, from here?
Sports journalism isn’t solely comprised of the exclusive brethren it was years ago; the internet blew everything apart. Suddenly, everyone with an opinion and a blog is a writer, or at least they think they are (depending on the quality of writing). Twitter unleashes voices. The gates to media credentials for pro sports have lowered, and the NBA has got to be among the best of them all, when it comes to treatment for media personnel.
It’s easy enough to start your own site and produce quality writing, but how long can you keep this up? Could you turn it into a full-time job? Does it pay the bills? How does one monetise a product like this? Patreon support? Subscription paywall for premium content? Donations? Advertisements? Merchandise?
Or, is it enough for you to land a job at a big brand media organisation elsewhere? There’s got to be light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s harder than ever for one to break through the ranks, and join up as a full-time journalist, simply because there are fewer jobs out there.
It all comes down to ROI. Investment into resources (infrastructure, staff) must result in corresponding content that captures audiences, and pageviews. Bad metrics means budget cuts, and layoffs. It also means surviving staff get stretched in multiple directions, or even different directions in a bid to right the ship.
All I can say is, I’m glad I’m not aspiring to be a sports journo. It’s a rewarding, but exhausting profession; kudos to the blokes who survive the grind, I’m not looking for something like this right now.