Independent Beat Writing

The fall of the newspaper business is not news anymore. In nearly every city in the country, papers are scaling back coverage of everything, including baseball, in order to save costs. In some cities, such as Washington, the scaling back represents almost a complete removal of day-to-day coverage of the team. This is, simply, not good news for anyone. Basic capitalism demands competition to get the most efficient outcome, and even in a business where there isn’t necessarily a tangible product being sold, quality declines when people leave the industry.

To combat this, Mark Zuckerman, a laid-off writer from the Washington Times, is raising money to go to Florida and cover the team on his own. I asked Mark to sum up why he’s doing this, and this was his answer:

“Between the Times eliminating the entire sports section and leaving all of us unemployed, and the Post still searching for a new beat writer, there’s been a real lack of quality Nats coverage outside of websites owned by MLB and the team. I’m hoping I can at least somewhat fill the void and provide the kind of comprehensive coverage fans have always counted on from newspapers.”

He estimates that it’s going to cost about $5,000 for him to spend six weeks in Viera, covering the Nationals on a daily basis. If you’ve ever planned a trip to Florida, you know that $5,000 doesn’t go very far, so Mark is clearly cutting corners in order to get down there and give Nationals’ fans another option in their coverage of the team. He’s not making a profit on this.

I know there are a lot of worthy places for us to give our money right now, and the economy still sucks, but I highly encourage you to donate to Mark’s cause, even if you are not a Washington Nationals fan. It’s in the best interest of fans everywhere that the information stream about baseball news is not restricted solely to those who work directly for an organization. That Mark is willing to do this beat for such a pittance is an opportunity that we should not pass up.

As of this writing, he’s almost halfway there. If you have some disposable income, consider giving to Mark’s cause, and let’s all make sure that the Nationals fans can enjoy spring training news – no matter how mundane it may be at times – just like the rest of us.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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C. Trent Rosecrans, former beat writer for the Cincy Post, now writes for a Cincy sports web site called He did this same thing….raised money to go cover the Reds in Spring Training. He’s already reached his goal and then some.

Not always a fan of C. Trent’s work, but anything is better than what the Enquirer puts out, and Hal McCoy is off the Reds beat, so you can’t get anything original from Dayton anymore.