It was one of America’s biggest and best sports sections.
The New York Daily News consistently won national awards, influenced New York City sports and featured some of the best-known sports writers in country – giants in the industry such as Mike Lupica, Frank Isola and Filip Bondy.
Sadly, those days appear over.
The Daily News sports section suffered another major blow Thursday when sports editor Eric Barrow, a 15-year veteran of the paper, was fired. What made the news especially stunning was Barrow telling his staff that he was not being replaced.
That’s true. Sort of.
Kyle Wagner, formerly of Deadspin and 538, will run the department with the title of Director of Digital Audience Development for Sports, according to the New York Post.
It’s not immediately clear how Wagner’s new job will differ from Barrow’s old one. But, if the Daily News is indeed eliminating its sports editor position, maybe it shouldn’t be considered a surprise after all. Thursday’s firing comes six months after most of the Daily News sports staff was gutted in a paper-wide purge. The department was slashed from roughly 35 full-timers to a mere nine as the Daily News’ parent company, Tribune Publishing, fired more than 100 across the paper.
Still, Thursday’s announcement made for a disheartening day, particularly for New York sports fans who long for the days of the tabloids fighting for scoops to blast across the back page.
In an e-mail obtained Thursday by the New York Post, Barrow told his staff, “Well folks, I have just been told that I’ve been let go. My position is being eliminated. Not sure what that means for the sports dept, but today is my last day. As a matter of fact, I’m being asked to leave ASAP.’’
The Post also reported that Barrow was “among the outspoken critics’’ last year when Tribune Publishing, in an effort to save money, went to a universal copy and design desk in Chicago to copy edit and design all the papers in their chain. That meant that the Daily News often could not get stories and scores from late games in any of their print editions.
In his e-mail, Barrow went on to praise his depleted staff and said he will “continue to root for the Daily News.’’ But it’s just the latest ominous sign for the Daily News, which some reports claim is losing between $20 million and $30 million a year.
When reached via Twitter, Barrow declined to comment Thursday night. The Tribune told the Post that it does not comment on personnel matters.