‘BoniBlog – No longer a rookie on the baseball beat

By John Iaboni, Sports Media Canada special correspondent

For the past two Spring Trainings, I’ve had the opportunity to keep an eye on the development of one young man around the Blue Jays.
This guy doesn’t swing a bat, run the bases, or throw 100 miles an hour but he’s getting the job done nonetheless. His name is Morgan Campbell and readers of The Toronto Star are now becoming accustomed to his byline on Jays’ reports the way they’ve read Richard Griffin and Mark Zwolinski for years.

Morgan Campbell - Toronto Star

“I’m enjoying it a lot more this year than I did last year only because last year I was a rookie on the beat,” Campbell says. “It’s such a challenge just keeping all the faces and the names straight, staying organized and dealing with the amount of down time in covering the sport. There’s like little bursts of action but a lot of standing around.
“Before I took the job people would, like, intimidate me saying baseball ‘is a special animal, it’s really different covering it, you’ve got to be really patient with it.’ To me it was no different than covering the courts: You’ve got to wait for the hearing only to learn that, oh the hearing today is not for three hours so you’ve got to kill the time somehow.”
Accepting that reporting on baseball is much like the game in that it has its own timelines and rhythms Campbell is much more at ease this time around.
“This year I’m a lot more comfortable just because I know more of the people and the people know me,” he says. “I’m starting to make more contacts not only inside the Blue Jays but outside of the team among agents and players and things like that. So I’ve got a lot better sense of who everyone is, what their stories are and what stories are worth telling.”
Campbell’s parents are American; he carries dual citizenship and grew up in Toronto. He has fond memories of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where he graduated in 1999 and which “for me is the finest journalism school on this continent, if not the world.”
His internship took him to places such as The Roanoke Times in Virginia and The Detroit News. He worked at a web site called schoolsports.com for about half a year then served as an intern at The Toronto Star before leaving for six months. He returned to The Star in April 2002 and has handled a variety of responsibilities since.
“I was the Scoreboard Page editor, I worked in news, doing sports as a g.a. (general assignment) reporter, covered soccer,” he says. “I still cover boxing and mixed martial arts. So I’ve done a lot of things within the company.”
Given the length of the season once games begin at Spring Training in March through the 162-game season that dips into October, Campbell says he’s fortunate The Star has three writers dedicated to the baseball beat.
“What I want to do in Spring Training and during the season is find more time to do features,” Campbell says. “Covering a beat day-to-day when you’re this close to the action doesn’t always lend itself to feature writing but at the same time you know the features are what set a given writer or a given newspaper’s coverage apart from the competition.
“In the Internet age, no one really has a scoop because I can get something first but the second I publish it, everyone else is going to have it. Really, the only people who care who had something first are, like, our bosses. The readers don’t care.
“I’m not going to give away things that I want to do features about this year but if I can do an in-depth feature these are the brain scoops we’re all looking for, finding different ways to look at something that we’ve all taken for granted for so long. That’s a story no one else can follow and no one else is going to have.”
So we watch with interest noting that one thing this sophomore possesses is confidence he’ll find a way to accomplish that.