Last season when the News and Observer stopped sending team beat writer Chip Alexander on Carolina Hurricanes road trips, they were not alone. Puck Daddy featured an interesting story this morning, (originally published by the Sports Business Journal), reporting that of the 50 newspaper editors it surveyed, 48 of them admitted to a reduction in travel for hockey related coverage. There is no reason to think that this trend will reverse itself anytime soon.
For some reason, the News and Observer never informed it's readers of their decision when they grounded Alexander. (We first broke the story here after Cory got confirmation from N&O sports editor, Steve Ruinsky). To the Hurricanes' credit, they have done their best to compensate for this lack of travel by providing post game interviews to the media via email immediately after each road game. But does objective, independent coverage suffer because of these changes?
According to Greg Wyshynski, chief editor at Puck Daddy, it probably does.
We think all sports fans are a little wary of the analysis and commentary coming from an official site; the question is whether that skepticism is warranted.
The Hurricanes have certainly stepped up the coverage of the team on their website. Paul Branecky and Dave Droschak each write for the club and both do a tremendous job. The media relations people also chip in, along with folk who work in community relations. But since these people are all paid directly by the team, do fans feel that it might affect their objectivity? Does the site provide enough analysis and commentary?
Regardless of how well the club's site is run, without question, fans lose out when professional, independent writers like Chip Alexander and Luke DeCock no longer travel with the team. Will the News and Observer ground the team's beat writer again next year? We will be watching and reporting here at Canes Country.