This is a tough time for the newspaper industry. Some have stopped home delivery, some have gone to online content only and still others have shut down completely. And the papers that are still above water, many of those are cutting staff.

And the local newspapers are not immune to these troubled times.

We hear lots of rumors about the future of the two local papers, but what we do know is that the Tampa Tribune has gone through at least four rounds of staff cuts and about half of the staff was offered buyouts last year. Things are a little better over at the St. Pete Times, but only after 200 staffers accepted buyouts last year and the remaining employees are under a salary freeze.

Over the years here at Rays Index we have been rough on some of the local writers from time to time. But the fact that we have only been strongly critical of a dozen or so columns out of the thousands that have been written, says a lot about how great the content is 99.9% of the time.

And more importantly, we will be the first to admit, that there is no Rays Index if there is no local baseball coverage, especially Marc Topkin and Marc Lancaster.

This is not to say that there is any indication that either of the Marcs will be leaving us anytime soon. We certainly hope they are with us for years to come. But the recent firings of several baseball beat writers across the country, especially the incident at the Baltimore Sun, in which their O’s beat writer was fired at the game, has at least heightened our senses.

So at this point we say “Thank You,” to all the local writers that cover the Rays.

If you would like to do the same, the best way is to always click on the links to the Tribune and the Times, that you see here. It may not be that much traffic in the grand scheme of things, but every little bit will help the Suits realize the importance of the local baseball writers.



  1. Amanda says:

    I completely agree.

    Alghough I got out of the business (I feel like my journalism degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on with the way newspapers and most "journalists" conduct themselves with their slanted views getting into their work*), some my best friends at the Trib are suffering right now, not knowing whether they'll be next. (You're right Cork ... it's pretty dire at the Trib. I could rant about management and what they continue to do to drive it into the ground, but that's not what you're getting at.)

    Sportswriters and departments are often skoffed at. One recent column I read (I think it was on said that they're considered the Toy Department at their paper. But local sportswriting (save for one certain SI reporter with a bent against all men) is really the last bastion of ethical journalism. Granted, they write to their individual audiences, but what if ESPN was the last refuge we had to turn to for news on the Rays? You'd think we'd hear anything except how they did against the Yankees and Red Sox?

    Here's hoping that both writers get to keep going. I also believe that having two newspapers in a metro area is VITALLY important. It allows for a greater chance that all opinions, points of view, and sides will be considered and published.

    (* I think all journalists should be politically independent. You can have your feelings and ideals, but they should not cross over into your work. Neutral observation is your job, not being a cheerleader or a liar.)

  2. MikeD says:

    hear hear on the Marcs. I have chatted online with Joe Smith at the Times too, and he's a good guy, knows his stuff. He was invaluable in keeping the comments section at The Heater going and (somewhat) under control during the playoffs last year. I disagree with them sometimes, but appreciate their valuable contributions.

  3. Gus says:

    Maybe those beat writer guys were on to something with the 2008 Rays MVP. I'll go to my grave knowing that there was no way Bartlett was the most valuable Ray on the 2008 team, but I guess I need to acknowledge now that they appreciated his second half more than some of us did. We are going to miss the daily newspaper when it it gone; not the lazy lead columnists stuffing their faces at the Masters buffets and the Wimbledon brunch and writing twice a week, but the daily news guys are valuable

    • Amanda says:

      Gus, generally those guys have already earned their stripes. You don't get to become a columnist right out of J-school.

  4. Don says:

    Can't imagine what sports would be like without a newspaper...and their local writers....
    The disagreement with content is part of the "fun"...
    Can't wait to read what the morons say tomorrow!


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