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Legend Hal McCoy let go at Dayton Daily News; what does that mean for Bengals coverage?

+ Dayton Daily News did the unthinkable. They did a Willie Anderson, letting Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy go.

The newspaper told me today that it will no longer cover the Cincinnati Reds the same way it has in the past, beginning next season. And don’t blame the paper. It is the economic times and we’re all suffering. They just can’t afford the more than a quarter of a million dollars a year to send me coast-to-coast.

Additionally, Chick Ludwig's coverage has been noticeably smaller this year. In the past, I could refer to Geoff Hobson, Mark Curnutte and Ludwig for stories. Even Bill Rabinowitz with the Columbus Dispatch, when they provided Bengals coverage. Any one of them presented enough to keep us informed. Now Ludwig has basically been relegated to his blog with Carlos "Big C" Holmes contributing and the Columbus Dispatch's Bengals section is nothing more than a section that says, "the Bengals are in Cincinnati."

It is a sad McCoy was let go. Red Reporter correctly suggests that the Reds should honor McCoy. The era of Newspaper specific businesses has dropped significantly in recent years. The new media is taking over.

Paul Daugherty writes, "We in the media have spent so much time giving away our product, you wonder if it's too late to start charging for it." In the past, ad revenue allowed free content with most newspapers. Now that ad revenue is falling, or at least the ability to apply it, newspapers are looking for additional revenue. One source is charging for access to online articles. If the Cincinnati Enquirer charged you to read the articles on their website, would you pay for it?

It has me thinking for sure. What online coverage do you see these days? Outside of the Bengals website, we have the Enquirer's Joe Reedy. You used to have blog ventures with radio stations, but that's fading already. Independent bloggers -- until someone hires them -- like C Trent Rosencrans are out there. But really, Reedy and the team's official site is the only stream of information. The same goes for the radio. After Lance McAlister and Mo Egger, who do you have?

The Sports Business Journal nailed it.

For executives who for years have used the daily paper as the primary way to keep their teams top of mind, the steady, debilitating bleed of the news industry has been painful to watch; its impact difficult to diagnose; the most effective response elusive.

Sports sections are thinner, staffs trimmer, travel budgets cut to the quick. For some teams, the shift has been seismic.

What happened?

SportsBusiness Journal recently surveyed editors from 50 North American daily newspapers (46 U.S.,  four Canada) that regularly covered at least one team in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball both at home and on the road. The pool included 15 of the nation’s 25 largest daily papers and 30 of the largest 50.

Those 50 departments had cut the equivalent of 303 full-time jobs through an 18-month span that ended in May, reducing staff sizes by about 20 percent through a combination of buyouts and layoffs.

Not surprisingly, sports sections are smaller. Space was down about 20 percent from the start of last year, with sections sliced by an average of six pages per week, or almost a page a day. For many, that continues a steady decline that began about five years ago.

It's the cost:

It costs about $50,000 a year to send a writer out with a Major League Baseball club for a year, according to several sports editors. The bill on the NBA and NHL is about $35,000 each. NFL travel is relatively cheap at less than $10,000. In cities where flights are more expensive, the bill can be higher. One paper that travels with teams in three leagues spent $141,000 sending out writers and photographers last year.

Increasingly the newspaper industry continues to decline, sports sections moreso; even greats like McCoy aren't excluded.