Chgo Sun-Times Columnist Quits, Says Newspaper is 'Dying' and 'Can't Compete on Web'

Jay Mariotti, a firebrand sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, announced he is quitting the print biz loudly proclaiming that newspapers are "dying" and that he didn't want to go down with the ship of the struggling industry. Naturally, the management of the Sun-Times is not amused.

Mariotti told Chicago's CBS 2 news that newspapers are in serious trouble and he wanted out before he was forced out. "It's been a tremendous experience, but I'm going to be honest with you, the profession is dying,'' Mariotti told CBS 2, "I don't think either paper [Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune] is going to survive.

"To showcase your work ... you need a stellar Web site and if a newspaper doesn't have that, you can't be stuck in the 20th century with your old newspaper.''

Jay Mariotti is one of those columnists that one either loves or hates, it seems. I hear this all the time from Chicago sports fans (among whom I do not include myself), so it isn't surprising that his quitting should be as obnoxious and loud as his writing career has thus far been. He even blamed former top execs for "looting" the Sun-Times in his CBS 2 interview.

Mariotti effectively burned his bridges, though.

Sun-Times Editor Michael Cooke said in an e-mail to CBS 2: "That's Jay's opinion. He has plenty of them. But the facts, of course, say something different. I'm going with the facts. Well, it's turning nasty ... and that's typical of Jay to throw a bomb on the way out of a place that cared for him, nurtured him, paid him well for 17 years.

Editor Cooke also threw his own dig Marittoi's way saying that he hadn't heard from any "grief-stricken fans" upon Mariotti's leaving.

Mariotti intends to focus on new web outlets and also will continue his ESPN appearances.

This incident is just one more example of the on going evolution of the news industry. Many think the print business will be left in the past and will go the way of the buggy whip. Others think that they will adapt. What ever the case, we will continue to see these growing pains as the Internet takes on more and more responsibilities of the news vending business.

(Photo credit: ESPN.com)