The CBSSports.com Boxscore: High Profits, Low Morale

By Richard Horgan Comment

CBSSportsHeadlines_2_4If you have not yet caught up to The Big Lead editor in chief Jason McIntyre’s deep dive into how CBSSports.com has been tilted by the disruptive forces of online sports journalism, here’s one of the more sobering takeaways:

Amid the layoffs and the low morale – sources tell The Big Lead as many as five CBS staffers complained to human resources in the last year about their new vice president, a crass, overbearing man named Anthony Mormile, who allegedly told an employee, “We’ll fire you and you can go be a vendor at Marlins park” – CBSSports.com came to a strange realization: Its readers didn’t care about the names on the byline, or where the news came from, or the type of journalism that was being produced…

Mark Swanson, the former managing editor at CBSSports.com, says, emphatically, “no consumers give a shit who breaks stories. Everyone has them within minutes. We thought there was value, but there’s none. This isn’t opinion. This is empirical.”

Case in point, coincidentally, for us: Steph Curry’s 51 points Wednesdsay night against the Washington Wizards. We were on Twitter at the time, so the first element that brought the Warriors star’s latest superhuman performance to our attention was his name trending. From there, we clicked into a few random links and embedded videos, landing at places predicated strictly by the particular moment we happened to be on social media. Ditto we imagine for most others last night and this morning on Facebook, on a smartphone, or both.

McIntyre frames his 3,500-word piece with the arc of leading golf writer Steve Elling, hired when the site was still known as CBS Sportsline and no longer with them now. He also summarizes a very unflattering example of sports content re-purposing that involved the Washington Post.

Read the article and weep if you’re an old-school journalist; read it and cheer if you own Viacom stock. In a way, McIntyre’s piece – minus the alleged nepotism and abusive behavior of executive Mormile – is also a record of how CBS Sports has adapted to the changing digital times more nimbly than many other outlets.

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