The sports journalism universe hasn’t had an awful lot of good news in 2017. ESPN’s layoffs just prior to the NFL Draft saw more than 100 on-air and online personalities lose their jobs, including a number of the company’s most beloved figures. More recently, Yahoo! and Fox Sports gutted their online writing departments and Vice Sports will be shutting its doors completely.
However, the world of sports media got a little bit bigger this week with the launch of The Athletic’s new verticals covering the Bay Area — chiefly the Warriors — college basketball and college football. The new editor-in-chief of the Bay Area edition, Tim Kawakami, announced his departure from the San Jose Mercury News in early July and explained why he left the newspaper world for a new online venture in his first post on the site.
“This isn’t just a fun little sports adventure without a financial plan. This is The Financial Plan As Reality – money paid directly through subscriptions, funding great journalism – carrying along sportswriting,” wrote Kawakami. “Alex and Adam believe in this and they’ve convinced me of this, whole-heartedly. I was intrigued by The Athletic, but I wasn’t all the way there yet. I wanted to go to The Athletic, but I needed one more shove over the dividing line. And after all those accumulated conversations, and the drip-drip-drip draining away of the newspaper industry… came the big playoff game, the mechanical foul-up, the homes that did not get their paper that morning, the sad knowledge that this would keep happening… and the end of this stage of my career.”