What the closing of TSN 1260 means to sports journalists new and old

by | Jul 10, 2023 | Opinion

On June 14th, at nine in the morning, an essential piece of Edmonton’s sports media history came to a very sudden end. TSN 1260, along with five other local TSN radio station divisions, was taken off the air as earlier that morning after Bell Media announced major layoffs to their radio divisions. As many outlets have since reported, the decision was financially motivated; Bell Media plans to switch to “a single newsroom approach,” rather than having several independent brands. 

The closing of 1260 is sad, and as an avid sports fan who hopes to one day work in the sports industry, it represents the ever-changing landscape of local sports media. Thousands of Edmontonians, including myself, will remember TSN 1260 as more than just a radio station but something that filled a void on the morning commute. With the station closed, a piece of Edmonton is no longer with us, and I’m left wondering what the future holds for this industry.

Not only have aspiring journalists lost the opportunity to work in a local media outlet, but  dozens of people are now out of a job. With media outlets changing how they operate and present news to consumers, very likely, 1260 will not be the last local sports outlet to close.  Even worse, this issue is not specific to just Edmonton, but all of North America.

The growing trend of local sports media outlets closing or laying off employees is becoming far too common. Over the past few months, Bally Sports, a regional sports television network, and The Athletic, an online sports website, have experienced similar situations. Bally Sports is currently undergoing a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, as the company restructures their outstanding debt after purchasing 19 local Fox Sports networks in 2019. The company broadcasts various NHL, NBA, MLB and collegiate teams around the United States. Still, Bally Sports is on the verge of financial collapse, showing how the regional sports television business model has grown outdated, with consumers searching for more affordable alternative ways to watch sporting events. 

The Athletic, a company owned by the New York Times, recently announced they would lay off around 20 reporters, about four percent of their journalistic staff. The layoffs shocked many journalists and fans alike, who viewed The Athletic as an innovative industry leader in the new age of online sports journalism. 

TSN 1260 closing shows how media is changing, and a significant part of Edmonton’s sports coverage is now gone. In the United States, 17,000 jobs have been cut in the media industry this year alone, surpassing the second-highest year-to-date record of 16,750 in May 2020. As opportunities for new journalists to grow and begin their careers in Edmonton seemingly begin to vanish, people like Jason Gregor, Dustin Nielson and Tom Gazzola represent all that’s left of a beloved Edmonton radio station’s history. 

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