Why Can't Houston Media Actually Employ People from Houston?

You probably don't know who Nick Mathews and Randy Harvey are. But as of next month, they'll be the new sports editor and new sports columnist at the Houston Chronicle. Congratulations to the both of them, but frankly, I'm troubled by their additions to the Houston sports scene.

Neither's a native of Houston. Mathews is from Illinois and before joining the Chron as online sports editor last year, he worked at papers in Fremont, Ohio, and Newport News, Virginia. And frankly, if Mathews is the guy who has ruined the online experience at the Chron, then it's really hard to understand why he's now the overall editor. Unless, that is, you like clicking on a story on your iPhone, but not being able to read the story until you scroll through a few hundred photos. And his use of photos and slideshows instead of actual stories with words has left me longing for the in-depth quality coverage of Bleacher Report.

The real problem, though, is with the hiring of Harvey. The guy's a UT graduate, but he joined the Los Angeles Times in 1981, and then moved to The Baltimore Sun for a while before moving back to the Times. In other words, the Chron got a guy with absolutely no ties to Houston to be a columnist writing about Houston sports. He doesn't know the history.

This bugs me for many reasons. For instance, just look at all of the talented writers the Chron has dumped from the sports department the past several years, most of them with deep ties to the Houston and Texas sports scene. Most were really talented writers, but the Chron chose to dump them in stupid attempts to save money. And for what it's worth, the Chron has some really talented sports writers still in its employ, so it just makes no sense that an outsider with no knowledge is brought into a high-profile position.

But the Chron's not the only offender. One of the problems I have with Houston sports radio is that most of the stations feel the need to bring in outsiders who know only clichés about Houston. For instance, 610 has hired some hack from Kansas City to be a loudmouthed voice for its morning show. He's not from here. What's wrong with hiring people from Houston, or from Texas, to do Houston-based sports shows -- it's really working for 790.

And it's not just with sports. KTRH canned its morning radio team, with a long, long history in Houston, for a loudmouth political talker who has never worked in the Houston market. Sure it bothers me that the guy's another conservative talker, but what bugs me more is that he's not from Houston.

Houston is a large city. It's the home of the University of Houston, which has good journalism, communications and radio and television departments. Rice and Sam Houston State have reputable communications departments. But instead of tapping the local talent pool for reporters, columnists and talk show hosts, there seems to be this unwritten rule that only outsiders are allowed to come to Houston and opine.

Harvey will probably work fine as a columnist. But seriously, for those of you who read the Chron, do you really think that some of those who have been forced out in the past several years, like MK Bower or Michael Murphy, couldn't do better jobs? Or Steve Campbell, who is on the Astros beat, or Joseph Duarte, who has covered just about every pro and college team in the area?

As for 610, I'm sure its new guy can't be any worse than Josh Innes. Then again, I didn't think it was possible for anybody to be worse on the radio than Brad Davies, and Innes came along. And for some reason, 610 employs all three of them, so I'll just continue to not listen.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal