Pretty dramatic headline, huh? I'm writing in response to the response I'm getting to Dan Caesar's column in the Post Dispatch. I've been surprised at how many people have expressed surprise or even shock that our number three full time sports reporter/anchor position has been eliminated.
First, layoffs are happening in all markets across the country in all departments. But, the average t-v viewer wouldn't know that. It's a bad time in the televison news business as it is in the radio business right now. The economy is partly to blame but the bigger issue is advertising revenue. There are many more places to advertise these days. Cable tv, satelite t-v and satelite radio, plus the web have many more "media" outlets competing for advertising dollars. Thus, the business isn't as profitable as it used to be.
Jeff Skversky will be replaced by a "backpack journalist." That's a person who can report and anchor but also can shoot video. KSDK is already employing a few in news. And our "backpacker" will be responsible for shooting the bulk of our video. He'll do a little reporting and some infrequent anchoring. So, we're not being left high and dry in the sports department but you will be seeing even more of me and Doug Vaughn.
There are some t-v stations in smaller markets that have eliminated their sports departments altogether. Could that happen here? Maybe some day down the road as in a few years down the road. But there are no plans for that here and in my opinion that would be a DISASTROUS move in a sports market like St. Louis. But the reality is sports departments are likely to get smaller in the future. It will be up to sportscasters like me to decide if it's worth staying in the business or in sports specifically.
The landscape is changing, no question about that. I would bet you'll see a reduction of news outlets in St. Louis in ten years. Just my hunch. But for now, its business as usual. It's up to me and Doug, our "backpacker", and producer Tim Klutsarits to make sure you don't see a change in our product.