No event better signified the current chaos in sports media than the announcement last month that Ken Rosenthal—the most plugged-in, reliable reporter in baseball—would be filing his stories to Facebook because he has nowhere else to write.

Rosenthal resorted to Facebook after his employer, Fox Sports, declared it would no longer host written content online and would instead feature all video all the time. Rosenthal, Bruce Feldman and other big-name reporters would continue appearing on TV but would no longer have a platform to write.

On Friday, Rosenthal appeared on the FanGraphs podcast Effectively Wild with Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan, and offered his thoughts on the whole mess.

I was surprised that we went as far as we did. I knew there was going to be a greater emphasis on video. I did not know it was going to be all video. And that shocked me. It took me aback. I was not prepared for that.

Now, I know people might think this is just an employee talking, but it’s actually the truth. I am just an employee. I have my opinions about this. I don’t believe this is the answer, all video. I don’t even know that it will work. At the same time, Fox is not the only company that has struggled to figure out how to make money off the internet. It’s kind of an industry-wide thing. And if this is the solution that they’ve determined is the best way for them to make money, who am I to say they’re wrong? I don’t know. I believe in the written word intensely. But at the same time, this is a choice they made.

I do video for them. I will continue to do video for them, and I have no problem doing video for them. Why I started writing on Facebook is simply, this is what I do. The Deadline was coming up, this is a busy time of year, and there are things that I can’t simply put in 140 characters. And I felt that I had to do my job. And even though Fox didn’t necessarily want me doing that aspect of my job, people, I would think, expect me to write. 

 

Rosenthal reiterated that he would soon be writing for someone else. He praised Fox for allowing him to pursue opportunities with other publications, noting that ESPN is strict about not letting employees break their non-competes, even after they’ve been laid off.

Of course, Rosenthal is right that Fox is a business and will therefore always pursue the most profitable course. The question many people have raised since the fateful shift to video is, how can the most profitable course involving telling one of the best reporters around that he can no longer write? To no one’s surprise, FoxSports.com’s traffic has reportedly plummeted since it ditched written content, the site is a laughingstock, and morale is said to be terrible. And, oh by the way, the man who pushed through the video-centric approach has since been fired for sexual harassment. Rosenthal, as a Fox employee, has to put a positive spin on the company’s new direction, but things clearly aren’t going great.

Rosenthal’s discussion of the situation at Fox comes about 40 minutes into the Effectively Wild episode, which you can find here.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10 and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

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