Veteran sportswriters struggle to come to terms with being laid off by New York Daily News

BondyHankExcerpts from my latest column for Poynter.

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Filip Bondy started hearing rumblings last Wednesday that the New York Daily News was making massive cuts. Despite generating high-quality work during his 22 years on the sports staff, he knew everyone was vulnerable.

“I didn’t wait for the call,” Bondy said. “I called them and asked, ‘Am I still working there?’ [The person on the other end] said, ‘Well, actually…hold on.’”

Bondy, though, had concerns about more than himself. His son, Stefan, covers the Brooklyn Nets for the Daily News. So after Bondy was informed that he had been dismissed, he immediately asked about his son’s fate.

“When they said he was staying, it was a relief,” Bondy said. “He’s got a lot more years ahead of me than I do.”

However, Stefan now works for a much different sports staff. With the New York Daily News incurring heavy financial losses, the paper laid off 12 people in the department, including sports editor Teri Thompson. Bondy wasn’t the only recognizable byline to be let go. Other cuts included Hall of Fame baseball writer Bill Madden, Wayne Coffey, a terrific takeout writer and the author of several bestselling books, and Hank Gola, one of the top golf writers in the country in addition to his coverage of the NFL.

Wayne CoffeyCoffey admitted he was “flabbergasted” when he received the call. “I didn’t think it would end this way after 30 years,” he said. “There’s an element of feeling like they ripped your heart out.”

Yet Coffey took some solace that he wasn’t alone.

“There’s a huge comfort if you look at the caliber of people they tossed out the door, some really strong people,” Coffey said. “It wasn’t just me. Unfortunately, it’s a reality of the business these days.”

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Gola, a 22-year veteran of the Daily News, proudly admits he is “an old-school dinosaur” who still thinks journalism is best served in a newspaper rather than on a website.

“There’s still something to holding a newspaper between your fingers,” Gola said. “That’s when our stories come alive. I don’t think you get the same feeling from a click. [Newspaper] websites don’t encourage reading. They just encourage you to click on a headline. You don’t even have to read the story for it to be measured as a hit. And that’s the judge of success these days.

“I’m glad I worked when it was still fun, and when stories still mattered.”

 

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