“We’re seeing free agency for sports journalists.”

This story is on the business page of the New York Times, so it may not get the attention in the sports world that it should, but it looks like the World Wide Leader (along with Yahoo) is having an effect on an area in the sports industry that may surprise some.

… ESPN and Yahoo Sports are on a furious hiring binge, offering reporters and columnists more than they ever imagined they could make in journalism. And ESPN, in particular, has gone after the biggest stars at newspapers and magazines, signing them for double and triple what they were earning — $150,000 to $350,000 a year for several writers, and far more for a select handful.

How much is “far more”?

… The competition for writers has even produced bidding wars, especially for big-name columnists like Rick Reilly (from Sports Illustrated to ESPN), Howard Bryant (from The Post to ESPN) and Selena Roberts (from The New York Times to Sports Illustrated) — but also for less widely known reporters. People who were briefed on the deals said that Mr. Reilly’s contract, easily the biggest of the recent signings, was worth more than $3 million a year. [Emphasis added.]

That’s getting into Nick Saban territory.

It’s all about teh ESPN, friends.  When even a shark like Scott Boras is impressed, you know you’re dealing with some serious clout:

 For some newspaper reporters, the appeal of a place like ESPN is not just the money but the vastly expanded audience, the ability to became a brand name, available through several media formats. “It’s like going from a guppy to an octopus,” Mr. Boras, the sports agent, said.

Perhaps this will begin to change some perspectives in the press about money grubbing when it comes to college coaches’ salaries… or at least turn some of the jealousy towards other colleagues in the media.  Don’t laugh – some of this is going to turn weird.

… Scott Boras, the agent for Alex Rodriguez and other stars, said that change had no doubt already produced an unnoticed milestone: In a sports locker room somewhere, in an interview between a prominent reporter and a low-level player, the scribe is the better-paid person in the conversation.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles

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