Much like the current state of the economy, times are lean for those in print journalism (just ask Jay Mariotti). Late last night and early this morning, two more suffered the consequences of a struggling media: Mike Downey and Jack McCallum.
First Downey, who had been with the Chicago Tribune for five years, has seemingly decided to leave, but it's probably a buyout.
Mike Downey, who returned home to Chicago in 2003 as a Tribune sports columnist, is leaving the paper. "The Tribune was generous enough to make me one of the best-paid sportswriters in the history of this business, so I certainly can't fault the paper for doing this now that times are hard," Downey said Thursday.
Tribune Associate Managing Editor for Sports Dan McGrath informed his staff "with profound sadness" in a note hailing Downey, who was a must-read at the Chicago Daily News and Sun-Times before becoming a columnist for the Detroit Free Press and Los Angeles Times, as a "wise, wry, sane voice of reason."
Then this morning, ESPN's Henry Abbot reported that Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum, "a titan of NBA writing," had accepted a buyout.
"Whenever anybody 'takes a buyout,'" he says, "it sounds like code for being pushed out the door. But that isn't the case. It was just the right time for me. I've been at SI since Larry and Magic were considered svelte. I've enjoyed every minute of it. All right, not every minute. But most minutes. I even enjoyed it when David Stern insulted my wardrobe at press conferences.
"Pro hoops takes a lot of bashing in the public eye, but, to the journalists who cover it, it's a sport with great people playing it, coaching it, front-officing it, p.r.-ing it, writing it and blogging it. I'll still be doing some stuff as a Special Contributor, so feel free, as always, to question my opinions and word choice."
Somewhere, Mariotti is polishing up his resume and dusting off that typewriter.