Stop reading if you haven’t heard this headline: Newspapers are in trouble.
The Chicago Tribune is in the middle of bankruptcy, even if it thinks it can rid itself of that shameful mantle soon. The Chicago Sun-Times was fleeced by its previous owner for buckets of cash, and now teeters on the brink of a different chasm.
In the midst of it all are the writers, editors and other employees who help to put together the final product that arrives on fewer and fewer doorsteps each morning.
In the middle of last summer, the Tribune cut its workforce. Along with it went half of the sports staff. Among those was Skip Myslenski, who had covered Northwestern athletics here and there over the last 10 years.
Now, Myslenski will be covering Northwestern again, only this time for Northwestern.
Call it innovation born of necessity.
Northwestern wants quality coverage for its athletics programs. Papers have less and less space devoted to sports (and less and less space devoted to sports outside of the pro ranks).
So, why not support that coverage in-house?
Northwestern’s “Athletic Communications” department announced the signing of Myslenski on Tuesday.
It is just another step in re-branding the entire Northwestern athletics site. No longer will it be just a clearing house for press releases and game reports.
Now the site will have more original content, anchored by Myslenski, who has been covering sports since he graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 1967 (and chances are he never thought he would be writing for a thing called "the Internet").
This is breaking new ground at the college level but not overall. For the past year, Sam Smith, another former Tribune scribe, has been covering the Chicago Bulls for their own website, Chicagobulls.com.
This type of arrangement always brings up a question of whether the writer will be as critical of the management or team as they were when they worked for the paper.
When Smith joined the staff of the Bulls site, he told Crain’s Chicago Business that the answer is “yes.”
“I’m not joining the Bulls as a full-time employee, so I’m confident I will have the independence I have always had to inform, entertain and analyze,” Smith said.
Here’s to hoping that Myslenski keeps the same focus in his work with Northwestern.
His first piece is available on the site today, a “first-person” profile of Pat Fitzgerald.
This article was originally published at Examiner.com where Ben is the Northwestern Wildcats Examiner.