Sports Columnists Lost in Digital Transition

Ink-and-paper set, losing touch with their cities and teams, jump for electronic havens
By Lev Weinstein,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2008 4:03 PM CDT
Stephen A. Smith parted ways with the Philadelphia Inquirer over a lack of dedication to his column in favor of television and internet opportunities.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Sports columnists are leaving behind their local teams and newspaper readership in droves for the greener pastures of the online and television worlds, and it's "something to be lamented," writes Robert Weintraub in the Columbia Journalism Review. “The gifted sports columnists often delivered the best writing in the entire paper,” serving as an insightful cheerleader or investigative instrument of a city’s frustration.

That's been traded for the rapid-fire pace and limitlessness of the Internet, "a boon to information delivery but less so to crisp, disciplined writing.” But the solution doesn't necessarily lie in newsprint. Were or Yahoo! Sports to pair a columnist with every team in every sport, opines Weintraub, smart writing and insider knowledge would benefit from the sites' global reach ... so long as the pieces don't spew beyond 750 words.