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Social Media Trends Have Baseball Writers Changing Tactics

Baseball fans are now starting to pay attention to more social media platforms, whether they like it or not.

On November 12, ESPN’s Major League Baseball insider Jeff Passan posted on social media the news of Rafael Montero resigning with the Astros.  Nothing about that sounds unusual, as Passan often uses social media to announce baseball news, but he chose to post on Instagram instead of his trusty Twitter.

“I think it’s time to start breaking some news on Instagram, too,” Passan wrote in his first post on that platform since August.  “So follow me here for the latest free agent signings and trades.”

He provided few hints at the change of website, and he continues to post on Twitter as well, but it is easy to guess why.  Since Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion, the platform is experiencing a steep decline in revenue and is in real danger of shutting down in the near future.  People around the world are theorizing where they can next post random thoughts, but the looming shutdown is more prescient in serious industries.  For example, public service departments are worried how they will provide updates during a crisis.

Baseball insiders are taking notice, as well.  Some have had Instagram accounts for years, but a growing number are picking them back up after disuse or getting one for the first time.  MLB Network’s Jon Heyman posted on November 15 for the first time in two months, while FanSided’s Robert Murray has three total posts, all since November 15.  Passan is clearly starting a trend of his own in response to broader trends.

What Comes Next?

It is fair to wonder how permanent the switch is.  Twitter probably won’t disappear tomorrow, and Instagram posts are not meant for announcing news to the public.  People sometimes post life updates on Instagram, but those are for their followers who they know personally.  Providing information is far more common in Instagram stories, which only last a day.  The baseball news cycle moves quickly enough that the industry and fans will easily find out within a day, but the writers probably want their scoops to be permanent.  Instagram users can save some of their stories, but that pales in comparison to a newspaper archive or a writer’s blog roll.

I think a more permanent solution would be a shared platform of their own for sports writers.  Just as athletes have The Players’ Tribunejournalists could have a website in common.  There could be many sports beyond baseball to make it more viable.  The new outlet would not replace the website or newspaper they work for, since the purpose is to break the news like they already do on Twitter.  Someone like Passan could continue to write features on ESPN while the announcing the latest trade on the theoretical platform.  If they want it to be more like The Players’ Tribune, there can also be a section for personal narratives.

There are plenty of fans frustrated with the switch, but I think this is for the better.  Readers now have to track more sites for news, but the baseball writers are making the move on their terms.  No one is forcing them to change tactics.  They are simply looking at the writing on the wall and deciding to leave before they have to leave.  An abrupt stop could happen at any time.  Regardless of when, journalists will be ready.

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