For his new piece about how ESPN's locally focused Web sites are proof that the Worldwide Leader's "thinking bigger than ever," per GQ's headline, New York Magazine contributing editor Gabriel Sherman spent most of his time in Dallas with the likes of Calvin Watkins, Tim MacMahon and other ex-daily-newsers who've happily escaped the newsroom. (Except in the case of MacMahon, who bemoans the site's shitty spot in the Cowboys Stadium press box between The Gilmer Mirror and an Abilene TV outlet: "We got fucked.") A long piece well worth your time if you like sports or journalism (and not sports journalism, which, I hear, is dead). A brief excerpt:
That evening I attend a high school football game with Randy Jennings, a laid-off reporter who's stringing for ESPNDallas.com. High school sports are one of the remaining strongholds for local newspapers, but here, too, bruising economics have led to deep cuts. In 2000 the Morning News had more than a dozen full-time high-school-football reporters earning full salary and benefits. Today it's just four. Jennings was one of those Morning News reporters, but he was let go in April 2009 during a purge of 500 employees from the paper's parent company. A quiet man of 56, he has a wide nose, dark eyes, and ruddy cheeks. "I'm rooting for defense tonight," he says struggling to keep up with the game -- the Arlington Colts versus their crosstown rivals, the Arlington Bowie Volunteers -- though he isn't getting his wish: The Colts rack up thirty-eight points in the first half. Jennings peers through a pair of scuffed-up binoculars to the field below. "I need binoculars to see the field, but I need glasses to see what to write," he says. "It's terrible." Jennings hasn't bothered to look for another newspaper job. He never married, and when his mom got Alzheimer's fifteen years ago, he moved home to the house he grew up in. He says he's trying to open a Subway franchise with a reporter from the Morning News.