(Updated with an explanation from Bleacher Report.)
Like it or not, the Houston Chronicle's sports section does have one thing going for it: It uses actual professional sportswriters, experienced and at least nominally objective, well-trained practitioners of their craft.
You can argue, as many have, that other papers have had much better, livelier, aggressive sports sections, but at least the Chron used pros who in theory should know what they're doing.
Hearst, which owns the Chron, has struck a deal to use online content from a fan-run website called Bleacher Report.
Here's the prepared statement from Stephen Weis, executive V-P of the Chron:
Bleacher Report's publishing platform provides a powerful way to serve our readers quality, original content that complements our own coverage. Working with Bleacher Report, we're able to reach out to local fans and add a variety of viewpoints on each of the day's sports stories that matters most to our readers in their home markets.
And here's the reaction on sportsjournalists.com, the web's home for sportswriters:
-- Send in the mothe@#$@# clowns.
-- Oh, my.
-- sentiments were also expressed pictorially:
The Chron, of course, lets just about anyone with access to a keyboard put up a blog that gets featured on the home page. This can result in hilarity like the utterly blinders-on right-wing Tea Party political "analysis" by "Texas Sparkle"; in sports it can result in great blogs (i.e, Texans Chick), or cliche-ridden pointlessness like "On Further Review."
Where the Bleacher Report ends up on the spectrum is still to be determined, but it's not a hopeful sign for the people who try to make a living writing about sports.
Update: Jon Miller, a spokesman for Bleacher Report, says the company is not providing anything in place of what the Chron sports desk does.
Basically, each Local Edition will feature exclusive content from Bleacher Report writers, local Houston fans that love to talk Houston Sports, so much so that they'll put together in words fan conversation, like what the Texans would be like if Domanick Davis stayed healthy, or the top reasons the Texans should sign LT, like, now -- all the stuff that fans love to talk about with each other that we don't see in a professional sports section. Bleacher Report provides fans a venue to do so.
...This kind of complementary content, that bar-stool conversation we all have when we harp on Tracy McGrady, simply could not be done without the pros at the Chron. They provide the news and the professional commentary. Bleacher writers can provide that fun, speculative content that gets fans talking among themselves, like why (or why not) Schaub will evolve into an MVP, or the most exciting players the Texans should target in the draft.