Leading off today:
I generally don't tackle media industry news in the course of blogging on this site because the subject may be of interest to me and the many reporters who lend a hand to the NYSSWA but probably rates as "inside baseball" fodder to most others.
However, a large media company made news twice this week -- once for doing a bad thing to a good guy and once for making major news related to a merger of newspaper giants. As such, both may be of interest to the broader audience.
Ellis Williams, who recently left The Post-Star in Glens Falls after doing a solid job of chronicling local sensation Joe Girard III and chipping in on other high school coverage, had the rug pulled out from under him last week.
While taking some time off in his home town in Minnesota, Williams was contacted by the human resources department at The Oklahoman to inform him the offer that Williams had previously accepted to cover college football was being rescinded through no fault of his own. Rather, the paper's corporate parent had implemented a hiring freeze.
At that moment in time, the hiring freeze didn't make much sense. Sure, GateHouse Media was struggling in its bid to continue pivoting from print to online media, but the Oklahoman is one of the chain's larger papers and Oklahoma State football is a high-interest topic for readers.
The likely explanation came this week when the long-rumored merger with Gannett was announced. Pending shareholder approval, the companies will become a single entity by the end of the year. The combined company will keep the Gannett name, but most of the decisions are expected to be made by executives from GateHouse and its parent company.
The merger will require downsizing and consolidation across all aspects of the new company because of overlap. In the Oklahoman's case, they could end up sharing some staff with Gannett's paper in Wichita Falls, Texas, about 100 miles to the south.
Are there implications for New York? Certainly. Gannett owns papers in Rochester, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca, Westchester County and Poughkeepsie. GateHouse has daily papers in Corning, Wellsville, Hornell, Canandaigua, Utica, Herkimer and Little Falls.
Gannett already saves on travel expenses by having upstate and downstate reporters and photographers cover for each other in high school championships in some instances. Quite honestly, it doesn't always work out that well on several fronts; reporters often have their own teams to cover that weekend, making that the higher priority, plus they lack the institutional knowledge of the other region's schools, coaches and players. That can make for reporting that doesn't capture the real story behind the contest.
That reason alone gives me cause for concern. Throw in some inevitable layoffs where overlap exists and the merger doesn't set up as a good development for high school sports fans.
On the move: Jason Kline has stepped down as girls basketball coach at St. Mary's in Lancaster, where his teams went 74-33 in four seasons, averaging 21 wins over the final three years.
Kline, a physical education teacher, previously coached boys basketball at West Seneca East and Holland.
Kline's daughters will transfer to Holland this fall. Myla Kline was an honorable mention all-state basketball player as a junior and Kaylin Kline switched from soccer and basketball to golf last year after being diagnosed with a heart abnormality.
• Longtime assistant Bill Cretaro is the new football coach at Chittenango. He replaces Curt Kielbasa, who stepped down after a 14-11 record in three years.
Florida pay dispute: A number of officiating associations are saying their members will sit out high school preseason football games beginning Aug. 14 that unless the Florida High School Athletics Association increases their pay.
That comes in the aftermath of an announcement by the FHSAA that it will not be raising the maximum game fee cap. The officials organizations had been lobbying for an increase of $10 a game for its members.
Florida officials can make no more that $65 for a varsity football game, far short of what colleagues get in Alabama ($110), Georgia ($100), Mississippi ($100) and Louisiana ($90).
"We are already significantly behind the other states in