Work Title: Baseball and the Media: How Fans Lose in Today's Coverage of the Game
Work Author(s): George Castle
University of Nebraska Press
288 pages, Softcover $24.95
Reviewer: Ron Kaplan
The days of an Oscar Madison-type sportswriter schlepping around a battered portable typewriter while covering the New York Mets are over. Today's reporters have to contend with grueling schedules, crushing deadlines, shrinking newspaper budgets, and competition from other sources that make their jobs difficult. All of this comes at the expense of the true baseball fan, who is caught in the middle.
The author, a Chicago-area journalist who has covered both the Cubs and the White Sox, writes anecdotally on trends over the last thirty years or so. This is not a scholarly treatise; he quotes from other sportswriters, team media directors, and athletes, rather than academic statistics, which helps the average reader relate.
Each generation seems to add a new twist when it comes to covering the national pastime. First it was radio, encroaching upon territory that was once the exclusive property of newspapers, but bringing the game to fans in faraway places that would otherwise never have the opportunity to "attend" a live game. Then came television, nosing radio aside and putting a scare into owners who thought it would keep fans from coming out to the ballpark.
Now, it's the Internet, which Castle blames for making the scramble for breaking news more important than accuracy. The relatively recent phenomenon of "sports talk radio" is even worse. It's entertainment, says Castle, and therefore not to be judged by higher journalistic standards.
In the 1970s, several ball clubs built stadiums that were...