Friday, July 6, 2007

Mercury News, Chronicle fire Sharks beat writers

It's a sad, sad day for Bay Area hockey coverage. According to this article by PJ Swenson of Sharkspage, the San Jose Mercury News has laid off popular beat writer Victor Chi and the San Francisco Chronicle has bought out the contract of Ross McKeon, who has covered the Sharks since their inception in 1991.

While this isn't entirely surprising, given not only the steady decline in hockey coverage by the American media since the lockout but the gradual replacement of the newspaper as a whole by internet resources, it's still dissapointing that the two largest newspapers in the Bay Area would shun the writers who provide coverage for arguably, especially recently, Silicon Valley's most successful sports franchise.

The Chronicle is likely to ditch original hockey coverage altogether, most probably replacing McKeon's insightful coverage with AP wire reports. The Mercury News had been increasing David Pollak's role in covering the Sharks steadily since the playoffs and, according to the aforementioned article, Pollak will be taking over Chi's duties and the paper will continue to cover the Sharks on the road.

McKeon and Chi aren't the only victims of the newspapers' large-scale gutting. The Chronicle is expected to cut 100 of its 400 editorial positions and the Mercury News is reportedly set to fire 50% of its 400-person staff. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though columnist Mark Purdy was among those fired. In addition to his position covering the Sharks for the Chronicle, McKeon was also The Hockey News' Sharks correspondent, meaning Pollak will likely step into that role as well. Regardless, Sharks coverage has taken quite a hit and the internet may now materialize as the prefferable medium through which to derive information and insight about the team.

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