Journalism as a viable mainstream business has been under assault from a weakened economy, weak ad sales, and uncertainty by publishers on how to adapt their old models to a new media world. One way they have tried to adapt is by having long-time writers blogging on the newspaper web sites as opposed to writing long-form articles. Some have done better than others, and it is hard to identify a single sportswriter who has adapted best. That is until you look at one sportswriter specifically.
So it is with great pleasure to present the 2009 Bloodshot Eyeball Award for Best Adaptation To Blogging By a Sportswriter to...
Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Some readers might remember back to April 2009 when we report about how Chip was taken off of the University of Georgia Athletics beat after 14+ years and moved to the breaking news team:
The University of Georgia is located in Athens, Georgia. During peak traffic times, it can take anything from 2-3 hours to get from downtown Atlanta to Athens. Tim Tucker lives and works from Atlanta. Chip Towers lives and works from Bogart, GA, which is just outside of Athens. He has been covering the Georgia beat for 12 years or so (I forget exactly when he left the Athens Banner-Herald to head to the AJC)...
...So what does Ms. Wallace do? Among other head scratching reassignments, she cuts the UGA beat to one reporter, giving the beat to Tim Tucker (who covered the beat with Towers) moves Chip to "General Assignment Online."
Fast-forward a few months to July, and Chip was back in sports, not as a beat reporter per se, but a blogger for the college recruiting beat:
...the change was short lived. I ran into Chip and his lovely wife outside the historic Morton Theater here in Athens this past Saturday night, and confirmed that he is indeed back in sports. After a few months of covering breaking stories here in Athens, including his outstanding coverage of the triple-murder plus suicide over at the Town and Gown Theater group, Chip is now the recruiting blogger at the AJC.
The change is effective as of last Monday, and it is now his full-time job. Chip said he will not be at many games during the season, as his efforts will be focused on the recruiting trail for all of the major sports at UGA, Georgia Tech, and colleges nationwide.
When Chip and I talked, he was a little bit apprehensive about the move because he was not very well-versed on how to do some things on-line that code jockeys like myself take for granted. He was also not sure how it would go and how hard it would be to find his "blogging voice."
Needless to say, he is doing both. Not only is he putting out information that only a journalist can do with full credibility and authority, he has not been afraid to enage people through the comments section on his posts. One example is one someone accused him of being biased towards Georgia because of this picture on this site:
The bias accusation came because a reader thought the short was black (it is blue) and because he was wearing a Georgis sports lanyard. The problem is that all journalists issued credentials by Georgia got the credentials on that lanyard. It had nothing to do with a bias. And Chip was not afraid to take the reader on in the comments.
It will be interesting see where this career turn, one that brought Chip back into the area he loves to cover, will go. But it is clear is is doing the best job of adapting in the context of the bigger things that were impacting his career.