When I noticed that the Daily News/Press Telegram ran an AP recap on a HOME GAME for the Clippers, I thought that it was possible that new Clippers beat reporter Ramona Shelburne had taken the long weekend off. Turns out, the Clippers win over the Bucks on Saturday was reported in the Daily News via the AP as well. And then I saw the really bad news - our beloved pest wasn't on vacation on MLK day. In fact, she was working at Staples Center - filing a column on Kobe and the Lakers.
Now, I have no idea if this is a permanent re-assignment or just a one-off. Lakers-Cavs, Kobe-LeBron - it's a big story, and it's possible that the Daily News opted to put another NBA reporter on just this one game, and used the AP gamer to backfill. But it certainly doesn't bode well for local coverage of the Clippers. Partly driven by the dire economics in the newspaper business, Clipper coverage has been declining steadily in recent years. And the re-assignment of Clipper beat reporters to supplement the teams of reporters covering the Lakers for the same paper is particularly distressing. The dean of Clipper beat reporters, Art Thompson III, was put on the Lakers beat when the Orange County Register completely discontinued their Clipper coverage at the end of last season. And of course none of the papers have been sending scribes on the road since early this season, nor the second half of last season. As of now, Los Angeles newspaper readers are limited to the LA Times for local coverage of home games, and for road games it's strictly wire copy for LA's Clipper fans trying to follow the team on dead trees.
The shame is that Ramona Shelburne has been doing a terrific job covering the Clippers, particularly on her blog. She was out in front on the Zach Randolph trade, and has provided terrific insights into the Clippers' front office and locker room all season. But it's hard to miss the fact that new posts to her blog have been fewer and further between in the last month - and there hasn't been a single one in 6 days, despite the fact that the Clippers have been in town and practicing at Playa Vista. It's clear that newspapers need to put their resources on the topics that interest their readership - if the Clippers don't qualify as one of those interesting topics, if they don't warrant a beat reporter, there's nothing much to be done about it. But access to information about the Clippers just got more difficult to come by. For instance, where are the injury updates going to come from?
It's an interesting confluence of media news today, as one of the local beat reporters was apparently re-assigned on the same day that ClipperBlog officially joined the nascent ESPN TrueHoop blogger network. The trend would seem to be one of bloggers supplementing, though hopefully not supplanting, newspaper beat reporters. Clips Nation sends best wishes to Kevin at ClipperBlog in his new capacity as the editor of the TrueHoop network; it bodes well for Clipper coverage from the blogosphere at least. I'm a big believer in the concept that a high blogotide will raise all blogoboats, so there's little question in my mind that ESPN's support of ClipperBlog is good news for Clips Nation; assuming Clips Nation falls into the category of 'good blog', more visibility for good blogs is all positive.
Fingers crossed that Ramona the pest will continue blogging on and covering the Clippers as well but I'm not optimistic on that front.