Say it ain’t so. Boston stations, beset as the rest of the local news biz has been by plummeting ad sales, have weighed the ROIs on the Sox and decided Spring training’s not in the cards. Jessica Heslam broke the news to Beantown in the Herald this morning: “WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) isn’t sending a sports reporter or anchor to spring training for the first time in the station’s history. WFXT-TV (Ch. 25) may not send anyone to cover spring training either. Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next week.”
It’s a unique yet unsurprising indicator of how far budgets have fallen in local tv news departments big and small. What once would have been unthinkable (get rid of the chopper? Are you nuts?) is now–nearly–a given. “Obviously in this climate we’re watching every dime and how it’s spent but we don’t want to sacrifice coverage, so it’s a delicate dance,” said NECN spokeswoman Doreen Vigue, who says the cable news op will have a “presence” at Spring training, but hasn’t decided yet whether it will be a staffer, a freelancer, or something else entirely. (Anyone predicting a Skype liveshot?)
Spring training–for baseball obsessed markets like Boston–has traditionally been one of those area where local sports departments show their stuff. Richard Huff in the NY Daily News recently argued that sports is DOA in local news. This may be another proverbial nail in that coffin.
Thoughts, Beantowners? Snarky comments, Yankees fans? (Though it should be noted that NYC stations have been cutting the life out of their sports staffs in recent weeks)