The Press-Citizen Is Abandoning Iowa Sports, And That's Awful News

The reins of HawkCentral.com get handed over to the Des Moines Register, and bad times are likely to follow.

Hello, folks. Serious time here, if ever so briefly. As you probably know, we're some real chucklepunks around here, and the goofing off we do brings a lot of readers and for that we're thankful.

But jokes and things are also predicated on common bases of knowledge, and a prime part of that knowledge is the work that the actual media professionals do in covering the Hawkeyes (and, to a lesser but still significant extent, the team's rivals). Before we fire off zingers about, say, Coach X's personality, we have to know what that personality actually is, and we don't really get that without the work that the reporters on the front lines put in on a daily basis. Raw information doesn't gather itself, and that's not a thing that we at BHGP are logistically capable of doing either.

All of which is to say, the Iowa City Press-Citizen is apparently abandoning its Hawkeye coverage and that is very, very bad news.

The reports first started when KCJJ reported that HawkCentral.com's coverage would be handled entirely by the Des Moines Register (which had provided content to HawkCentral and which is owned by the same company as the P-C, Gannett Publishing). Our dear old friend Pat Harty, who has been on the Hawkeye beat since before we first learned the P-C existed, would be reassigned to prep sports.

That report was bad enough, though it was put in the "neither confirm nor deny" limbo window by newspaper brass. But anybody doubting the meltdown over there needed only to see the Twitter page of HawkCentral editor (and Iowa sports media fixture) Ryan Suchomel to see what was up. Check that: former editor.

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Media expert Jim Romenesko quickly reported on the upcoming moves and confirmed with a "newsroom leader" at the P-C that they were coming. So with Harty and Suchomel already gone (and who know who else to follow), that's two veterans of the Hawkeye sports landscape that just aren't there anymore, and there's no real sense that their jobs will be replaced by anyone of equal talent, if at all. That's chilling news.

Decry Gannett's move and business strategy all you want, but it's not an anomaly in the journalistic world these days. And in an era where these companies are constantly finding incremental cutbacks to make, the loss of a direct competitor's beat writer makes your own beat writer just that much more expendable. Businesses don't succeed by competing against themselves, after all, and the moment Newspaper X thinks it can axe a well-paid writer, no matter how beloved that writer is, it probably will.

To put it more bluntly, the jobs of our Hawkeye beat friends at the Gazette are now incrementally more in danger than they were at this point last week. So yes, this is a dark, dark day for fans of the Hawkeyes and fans of Hawkeye coverage.

We don't have any answers. If it were easy to save the newspaper industry someone would have thought it up and done it by now. The bottom line is that careers are disappearing and not coming back, and with those careers go talented, informative writers. And we'd much, much, much rather have Pat Harty on the job than nobody.

Tip one out.

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