Wednesday, December 26, 2007

ESPN, Yahoo back up the money truck

A few weeks ago, in the post about Fainaru-Wada joining ESPN, I dropped a quick reference to that scene in Citizen Kane in which Kane is bragging about all of the journalistic all-stars he was collecting for his newspaper. Seems I was onto something:

ESPN and Yahoo Sports are on a furious hiring binge, offering reporters and columnists more than they ever imagined they could make in journalism. And ESPN, in particular, has gone after the biggest stars at newspapers and magazines, signing them for double and triple what they were earning — $150,000 to $350,000 a year for several writers, and far more for a select handful.

At first glance that's really quite astounding, but it probably shouldn't be. After all, newspapers and the editorial side of sports sites are in roughly the same business: trying to attract eyes that will read some ads after reading some content. With that in mind, look at the circulation numbers for the top papers in the country. Now consider that the top sports sites are reaching something like 20 times the number of people even the biggest papers are reaching -- and consider that given subscription services, fantasy games, and interactive features, the page-view is only the beginning of the revenue stream for the web sites -- and you realize that salary multipliers of double and triple for talent are, if anything, a bargain.

An added bonus to this? Almost everyone I've ever met knows someone who considered the idea of becoming a sports writer or reporter at one point. Hardly any of them did, however, in large part because lower paying jobs with boatloads of travel and little job security aren't exactly enticing. If what this article is describing is the new normal, we're going to see more people getting into the business, and ultimately, that should lead to higher quality writing, no?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, about the only guys I read are free bloggers. Why? Because the quality of insight so far exceeds what the journalists regurgitate. There is no journalist I make sure I read, but I check back here and about 5 other sites two or three times daily.