Some Thoughts on CSN’s Cuts

So I’ve been thinking a lot about CSN’s dismissal of Tim Panaccio and Dei Lynam (such is my current existence), which follows drastic, similar changes at ESPN and FOX Sports. The common thread throughout all of these moves, among several more impactful business factors, is that the traditional team reporter or talking head has no place in the modern sports media climate.

Think about it: When Tim Panaccio came up through the ranks, there was no Internet, no cable news, and certainly no social media. He was part of a generation of newspaper beat reporters whose job it was to attend practices, games and press conferences, and then recount to a wide audience what happened. Not only was there not a need to provide further analysis or unique content, but that sort of thing would’ve also worked against the reporter’s role as impartial observer and stenographer.

Fast-forward to today, where no one outlet (or even handful of outlets) is responsible for disseminating news and information, and most of the interesting stuff is surfaced, rather quickly, by social media. In sports, teams can perform the role of the old-school beat writer themselves, and often do so in a much more thorough and interactive way. Video highlights are way better than written accounts. Live press conferences remove the secrecy and reveal the extremely hollow nature of most comments made to the press by increasingly well-coached athletes who are taught exactly what to say and how to say it. Sure, there is the occasional situation where only an impartial observer can extract the truth, but let’s be honest, this is sports we’re talking about and those instances are usually unnecessary.

That all makes the role of the traditional beat writer – the Tim Panaccios of the world – redundant at best, and completely unnecessary at worst. Some – many, even – have evolved to provide their own unique and at times indispensable slant on coverage. Tim McManus and Sheil Kapadia pioneered this tactic locally when they started Birds 24/7 for Philly Mag (they’re now with ESPN). Eagles reporters, specifically, have done a good job of adding value to their coverage of the games and press conferences that everyone sees anyway. But when it comes to the other three teams, the slack has mostly been picked up by blogs and new media. Derek Bodner covers the Sixers better than anyone on the planet, and as such he has commanded over $6,000 per month from 2,000 paying subscribers (which is more than most beat writers make). Bill Meltzer provides Flyers fans with in-depth coverage and analysis. Corey Seidman, at CSN, a 20-something kid with no notable industry experience with which to speak, has risen to become the best Phillies analyst on a network filled with former players and coaches. Sites like this one, which work around the fringes of teams, provide daily commentary and aggregation of the most interesting stories and topics. As such, the role of guys like Panaccio and most of his Flyers compadres, who failed to evolve, is relatively useless. Panaccio was LAPPED by online writers providing more in-depth and interesting Flyers reporting and commentary, all without contempt for fans. Readers were given a choice, and they almost always chose something else. The notion of competition – differentiating yourself – was largely lost on Panaccio and his cohorts. In fact, the Core 4 of Flyers beat writers seemingly kept each other in check by banding together in the name of preservation. Their poolside complaint is one of my favorite things ever. They shunned outsiders, like Frank Seravalli, who dared to be different (Seravalli now works for TSN). So, really, it’s natural selection that cost guys like Panaccio. In an increasingly cost-conscience sports media environment, one that was built atop the massive profits of cable networks in the late 90s and early 2000s, Panaccio and others failed to provide value, and that made them dispensable. They just continually performed a function that was no longer necessary.

As for Dei Lynam, news of her departure was met with much more dismay than that of Panaccio, about whom I received multiple messages from media members celebrating his demise. That wasn’t the case with Dei, who seemed to be well-liked, and, more importantly, seemed to have a genuine enthusiasm for her beat. You can argue whether her role was as redundant as Panaccio’s (and I will in a second), but it’s clear that she deeply enjoyed what she did. You can’t fake enthusiasm when covering a 10-win basketball team. However, all the give-a-shit in the world won’t change the fact that the role of the one-dimensional on-air personality is going away.

CSN, specifically, is focusing on well-rounded talent that can seamlessly transition from hosting to debating and commenting about multiple sports. You can argue whether wide-ranging surface-level knowledge is better than being able to drill deep on a specific topic in an environment that, if nothing else, seems to value expertise (I would argue that it’s not), but it’s clear that having the ability to write, talk and appear on-camera is a necessity in this fragmented world. The process of “shooting and editing a package” made for 90-second TV blocks is a waste nowadays. Short of documentary type content, most compelling video today is shot on iPhones and shared immediately. Spending all day cutting one segment is a horrible use of time and money. You need to be quick and versatile, and either bring a genuine news value or have a personality and tone to command an audience.

Dei, too, came up in an era where telling viewers what happened and disseminating quotes and interviews was paramount. She’s also part of a group of sports reporters who told a top-down version of events. Coach X said this. Player Y reacted as such. This style of journalism, in all verticals, is increasingly unwanted. This breed of TV reporter focuses on telling stories, and with that comes all sorts of exaggeration, hyperbole and narrative that, today, we can often see through. The story of the scrappy player who overcomes the odds to will his team to the edge of triumph… doesn’t hold up under the analytical guy who points out that the scrapper shoots 31% from three, relies on his mid-range game, and doesn’t get to the line enough. The latter is the better, more evolved version of sports coverage. To be fair, I thought Dei, who was mostly used on pre- and post-game shows lately had a decent command of these concepts. But the problem for the previous generation is that, for them, covering sports mostly meant going to games, telling people what happened and the stories of those involved. But now in a world where we can all see what happened and those players can tell their stories unfiltered – hello Joel Embiid – that style of reporting is all but dead. You need to be a genuine news-breaker (Adam Schefter), a true subject matter expert (Derek Bodner), a unique voice with a following (Bill Simmons), or just be a really incisive bloviator (Skip Bayless), to stand out. It’s nothing against Dei that she didn’t have those traits – it’s merely a result of the generation she came up with – but it doesn’t change the fact that the methods her ilk were taught and used are largely no longer needed. They will bemoan the changes, but I feel doing so misunderstands and dismisses the merits of modern coverage. New media has given rise to much better reporting, even if we have to weed through a little more shit to find it. That’s what many in the previous generation who have a love-hate relationship with social media fail to acknowledge– there are people who do their jobs better (the case with Panaccio), or at least perform a function that is more valuable (the case with Lynam). That doesn’t make the moves that were made yesterday any easier. Dei was very good at what she did, and by all accounts is a good person. But her role was no longer needed.

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85 Responses

  1. Twitter changed everything. We fucking get it. Now how about you focus your efforts on producing a quality podcast? The primary difference between your podcast and sports radio is that WIP/97.5 don’t have dead air. Do better.

      1. If Jordan Weal walks I wouldn’t be against the Flyers bringing Hartnell back for a 1 year deal on the cheap. Give him some kind of incentive laden, inexpensive contract, play him on the bottom 6 and give him some PP time. Obviously I want to see Nolan Patrick, Lindblom or Konecny step up onto the top PP unit to replace Schenn but Hartnell always had that one timer chemistry with Giroux. And you don’t need to be a good skater to take advantage of Giroux’s passing from the half wall.

    1. TL/DR

      If you want to keep your job, marry the lead producer at the station. Have his baby. Annoyingly refer to everyone by their nicknames: “Gunner …Ricky Bo…R Diddy…Michael B….the Guv”.

      Then eat. And eat. And eat and eat and eat.

      1. So at this rate she will continue to further eat and eat and eat until she is unattractive to be on to tv.
        I would not imagine if she is trying to eat her way out of a job. We will all find out soon.

        1. Ever since she came back from maternity leave we’ve had to have an extra PR on the fryer during nightshift.

    2. Nailed it. I personally do not want to hear the opinion on media on someone who is too old to be a millenial like Kyle.

      They’re just cleaning house. ESPN has also hired a ton of people but you’re not talking about that. SPLISH SPLASH TAKE BATH KYLE

    3. Kyle, since your penis is so small, when you beat off, do you use your thumb , pointer and middle fingers? Or do you use both thumbs and pointer fingers in a small diamond shape???

    4. Came here to say this.

      Stop this shit and entertain your readers. I love the site and have read for years but your hard on for cord cutting is so tired.

  2. Kyle, naming the Tim Panaccio fired post as anything except “Finally…” is completely disingenuous. You basically called for this guys job in many posts and described him as such:
    10/12/15: “Tim Panaccio, who is truly terrible at his job, mostly just because he’s lazy”
    10/8/15: Headline “Hockey Season Is Here, Which Means It’s Time for Tim Panaccio to Completely Mail It In”
    7/1/15: “It just wouldn’t be silly season without Timmay being a dope.”

    1. You go to all that trouble to find old posts only to whine about the headline?

      I think I need a better job. Who has time for that?

  3. Again, then how does Rob Ellis keep his job at both that network and radio. The guy mails it in every day with the same lame Cowboy hate, same topics, etc. He is the definition of Vanilla. He steals topics and bits from every show and proclaims it as his own with Mayes. Oh Rob where did you think of the Lightning Round or the 15 Seconds of Fame? And the desperation for ratings is at an all time high today having LaVar Ball on. Pinnachio may have been lazy but I am sure there was a time where he actually put in effort. But now he is no different than what Boring Robby E offers on multiple platforms each day.

    1. I listened to Ellis and Mayes’ 15 Seconds of Fame segment for the first time the other day and almost jumped into oncoming traffic.

      1. Haven’t listened to that show in weeks. But I follow the station so I see what they do every day and confirm I make the right choice going with a podcast or music

        1. This has been pointed out many times on here – the reason Rob has not been fired from 97.5 or CSN is because he is the ultimate company man. He will never be late to break, he will always reset if the topic starts to get off hand, he will side step around topics he deems “too risky” with his classic “let’s keep it moving” or “do we wanna do this?” lines. He also probably doesn’t make that much which is why he will take just about any gig on CSN.

  4. Gotta admit, I’m sorry to see Dei and her amazing chest go. Always had a thing for her. A bit of a butter-face for sure, but before she had a kid her body was tight. Still think it’s smoking.

      1. Still trying to make these Amy Fadool jokes work, huh? Good for you cause none of them have been funny yet. Maybe try a different angle, chief.

        1. I kinda of agree with you. I don’t get the understanding why people are making fun of Amy. She does not look bad. I don’t mind watching her on tv. She might have gained a little weight. But she is still considered hot.

    1. Most people probably don’t know it, but back in the day, I used to bang Dei Lynam like a snare drum.

      Of course, we were both about 90 pounds lighter then, too….

    2. Dei did have an amazing chest. Got to give it up for that. Every time I saw her I definitely was thinking about penetrating her lane.

  5. “Sites like this one, which work around the fringes of teams, provide daily commentary and aggregation of the most interesting stories and topics.”

    Didn’t realize Kyle’s platonic love for Chase Utley & his hatred for Buffalo Wild Wings are interesting stories & topics?

  6. Kyle in all honesty did you think Adam would be missing so many podcast episodes? Seems like amateur hour that it just started and you have the “host” constantly missing time. You and Russ do a good job, thoughts about just going with the two of you? Or getting a third guy who actually wants to do it?

    1. Im guessing Adam is the New York guy with a shot at getting work from a real media outlet? Would be no surprise he bails on Kyles disaster considering he asks the guy partying all night to be up at 6:00 am. Podcast will be solo Kyle by August, book it.

    1. Anybody that wastes their time watching that dumpster fire of a fight is an idiot. It’s all just a scam to get your money. This fight will set an all time record low for P P V buys. I’ll be watching the Phillies on August 26 not some stupid fight.

  7. Every single person in the media can go line up at the unemployment office, idgaf. No kids, or they can have a small village to raise doesn’t matter to me. Kyle seems to idolize these folk

    1. You are, easily, the most annoying person that posts comments. Do us all a favor and stop posting for awhile, you uneducated asshole.

  8. The comment section sucks since Kyle outted the degenerates IP addresses. I guess i”ll have to settle for Kyle live tweeting his HOA meeting.

  9. Martin, it’s all psychological. You yell barracuda and everyone says, Huh, what? You yell” shark” and we have a panic on our hands on the 4th of July!

  10. You had me till you praised Seidman who is terrible.

    Plus he killed one of the best Phillies blogs around a few years ago in Beerleaguer.

  11. How about that poor ba$tard that got smoked by his baby mama playing the shoot the book challenge with a desert eagle. What could go wrong? Social media is a double edged sword. Everyone now has a platform and don’t know how to act

  12. I have a degree in Journalism from Temple. I work in IT and make more than a beat reporter while doing less work. Anyone who writes for a living in a jackass.

  13. Yes, I am a model. And yes, Spadaro got banned from the Eagles locker room for peeping on Asante Samuel in the shower.

  14. Yo Kyle, big plans for when Utley gets his 1000 RBI? Maybe a circle jerk with the wife and kid? Enjoy.

  15. At 57 he is up to speed with today’s Millennial’s. Instead of old guy radio with Tony Kornheiser, we have old guy TV with Barkann.

  16. Trump is the original cyberbully too bad instead of Conor/Floyd we couldn’t get Biden/Trump now THAT would set record pay per views.

  17. Are people serious with their admiration of Dei Lynam? She constantly used the wrong annunciation during sideline reports, her voice wasn’t as awful as Guidel but it was still horrible to listen to. I bet the people that are going to miss Dei are the same ones that miss that “I Beat Pete” segment on CSN

  18. The coverage of Philly sports on CSN and the Inquirer/Daily News is just abysmal.. No one has the guts to write or speak vicious truths about the con job perpetrated by the various owners, especially Phillies and Sixers upon the fans with an intentionally inferior product put together on the cheap. No one has the courage to write or speak a single harsh criticism of anyone associated with these teams for fear of losing access or employment. So everything is a fluff-puff piece about the future. The absolute worst of them all is this simple minded nitwit named Jessica C (can’t remember her last name) who covers the Sixers on CSN.com. Not only should that talentless little girl be let go but be forced to give back her salary.. They really are all putrid because no one of them are real journalists – they’re just shills and mouthpieces for the various front offices

  19. Ur defending Dei not realizing she was laughing at you and your sixers draft party with Rob Ellis live on CSN during the draft.

  20. I disagree as we still need good reporters to get us the behind the scenes information that goes on in the lockeroom. My beef with the current Beat Writers in this town is they are 100% opinion, and that means nothing to me. I could care less what Elliot Shore Parks thinks about how great Carson Wentz is going to be, or whether Nelson Agholor is a bum or not. Their job is to paint us a picture of what is going on behind the scenes with the team through their sources. If you think back to the Mariotta trade talks 2 years ago before the draft, it was all BS and manufactured from the media. Nobody had any credible sources that there was even serious talks as there was no way Tennessee was moving down from #2 to #20. But the media kept talking about it, and people started believing it.

    The point of the media is what went down with the Fultz trade 2 weeks ago. Sadly, the National Media broke the story before our local media, but there was rumors that the Sixers and Celtics were talking about switching picks. That is the stuff the fans want to know, but all we get from the local media for the last 4 years was the whining about tanking and how much they hated it.

  21. I see a day when Inkydink and DN merge into one paper. As it is, both have become daily Saturday-type editions–plumped up Metros, if you will.

  22. It’s kind of ironic that Kyle paid Jim for 3 years and then fired him now that the city is basically Jimadelphia and the website is Crossing Jim.

    1. Real talk. The 76ers were the only subject tgat he could actually write about rather than copying Twitter and deadspin.

  23. Adam Sheftfter on 97.5…..”Markelle Futz”. That’s what you get when you ask NFL reporters to do more.

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