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Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016: We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto (and editors)

   Leading off today: I've been hanging on to this column for a couple of weeks, saving it for a rainy day. After a futile search for details of Brighton's 6-5 win over No. 5 Canandaigua on penalty kicks in the Section 5 Class A boys soccer tournament -- which otherwise would have been the lead to this blog -- the time seems right.

   Writing in the Press & Sun-Bulletin this month, sports reporter Rob Centorani repeated a frequent plea of sports departments across the country to high school coaches to furnish game scores and details following the conclusion of contests.

   "The guess is on a nightly basis our sports staff receives about 60-70 percent of the calls/emails we're supposed to get," he wrote. "That means we're missing a considerable amount of events every night.

   "Give us one more chance.

   "I'm positive many coaches have shaken their heads over the coverage this newspaper has supplied to their teams in recent years. You're preaching to the choir. When I started in this business in 1988, we had a huge sports staff. For people taking games over the phone back then, we'd write separate roundups during basketball season for the STAC, Sus and IAC, wrestling would get its own roundup and we'd have another roundup for other sports. Well, it's not 1988 and we don't have a huge sports staff.

   "But we're committed with the resources we have to provide informative and accurate roundups."

   This hardly qualifies as breaking news, but newspapers are becoming a little less relevant with each passing year in the Internet era.

   Despite waves of layoffs and buyouts, newspaper staffs typically remain the largest information-gathering and reporting entity in any media market and continue to perform a vital task. But technology has chipped away at what used to be sheer domination. Increasingly, people are choosing to consume media in a different fashion. They'll settle for fewer details and less consistency in reporting if TV, radio or some other outlet can provide it fast and in a friendlier format.

   A TV station may have only a half or a quarter the reporting staff of a newspaper, but a snazzy smart-phone app that gets the information to them cleanly counts for a lot.

   In addition, self-publishing is a real thing. Want to know why a popular byline has disappeared from your newspaper? There's a pretty good chance the reporter has left to work for the news bureau of the local college or the PR department of a major business. Those entities have learned they can craft their message and deliver it to the public without working through traditional media.

   So newspapers are now early in their third decade of "adapt or die." I saw the writing on the wall -- or encoded in HTML -- back in 1995. When my original online assignment at the Democrat and Chronicle concluded as we launched a website to cover the Ryder Cup in Rochester, I asked to stay in the new media department rather than return to the newspaper's sports department. I wasn't sure where we were heading, but I knew digital had enormous potential.

   Two subsequent decades of watching my old employer and many other newspapers around the state has confirmed that the departure from print dominance is permanent. And 98 percent success rates in gathering the day's scores is one of the casualties.

   Newspapers should not abandon relationships with coaches and ADs, but it's time to admit what's evident to most: The days of being "the paper of record" chronicling everything important and much of the more mundane are over. Making the most of what's available is what's in.

   It's time for editors (or whatever their job titles have become in new-era newsrooms) to navigate in a different direction. To that end, two approaches at a format change have caught my eye recently. The major outfits to my immediate right and left -- (example here) and (example here) -- are heading in the right direction by offering one-stop shopping of sorts.

   A single click each days brings fans of high school sports to a page summarizing what was important in last night's results and what's important on today's schedule. If there is a feature or column written related to high school sports, video of a wild play or a photo gallery, you'll find those links there, too.

   If you still want to click around to a dozen different game recaps or scoreboard pages during your visit, that's your prerogative. But if fast and convenient are what you're seeking -- and that's kind of the point of going online -- then Buffalo and Syracuse are moving in the right direction by investing an extra hour or two of work each night.


   Soccer note: Fort Ann's Jeremy Johnson has set his school's career assists record (78) heading into the Section 2 Class D semifinals.

   Coaching changes: Bob Klimowicz, the longtime boys coach at Frontier, is moving to the world of girls hockey as coach of the Frontier/Orchard Park/Lake Shore team. Klimowicz will be replaced in the boys program by Brian Dehlinger.

   Former Canisius High and Canisius College standout Darren Fenn has been named boys basketball coach at Nichols. Fenn retired last year after 14-season playing career in Europe and takes over for John Reinholz, who stepped down as Vikings coach last month due to increasing family and career responsibilities, according to AD Rob Stewart.

   Stephanie Cooper has been promoted to girls lacrosse head coach at Corning. She takes over for Julie Pierce, who guided the Hawks to Section 4 Class A titles in each of her two seasons. Cooper coached the varsity team at Horseheads before becoming a Corning assistant and is the Section 4 girls lacrosse coordinator.

   NYSED proposals: The New York State Education Department has proposed two more changes to eligibility rules for student-athletes, The Daily Gazette reports.

   Both are likely to raise questions for school administrators, New York State Public High School Athletic Association Executive Director Robert Zayas told the paper.

   One change would pave the way for more athletes to receive approval for an extra year of eligibility once their four-year clock after entering ninth grade (or six years after entering seventh grade) expires -- provided they do not turn 19 years old before July 1. They would have to show "other circumstances beyond (their) control" forced them to miss a season and time in the classroom, a provision that existed before a rules revision two years ago, but it sounds as though the intent is to be more forgiving.

   The other proposal creates a more defined pathway for students at districts that only go up to the eighth grade to be eligible to compete for a district with which the home district contracts for the high school education of its students. A provision triggers one year of ineligibility if the student opts for a different high school for ninth grade than the one he or she competed for while in junior high.

   Though the measure is seen primarily as an issue for just a handful of public-school districts, it seemingly might have implications for private schools, which also often stop at the eighth grade.

   "You constantly have to be cognizant of the precedents each decision and regulation ... establishes," Zayas told the paper. "That's where we need clarification."

   Both proposals will commence 45 days of public comment on Nov. 9 and could be enacted in time for the 2017-18 school year.

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