There are many reasons to mourn the slow death of the newspaper industry — first and foremost the hordes of people losing their jobs. The disappearance of all-expense-paid journalist conventions masquerading as "major assignments" is not one of them.
Murray Chass, who despite retiring from the New York Times several years ago is still apparently in the press box at the Yankees-Phillies series, has noticed that there aren't as many familiar faces around this year. He tallied up the number of newspapers that had sent reporters to cover the baseball championship for his not-a-blog blog: of the 60 papers that fund traveling baseball beat writers during the regular season, there are 31 covering the Series.
Given that there are 30 teams who are playing during the spring and summer, and just two in the World Series (meaning that the paper-to-team ratio has gone from 2-1 to 15-1, see chart above), doesn't seem like all that big of a tragedy. Especially since many of those non-traveling beat writers are presumably still employed — writing about the games from the comfort of their sofas — while many thousands of other newspaper employees are not.
Where Chass sees a "startling barometer of how critical the health of the newspaper industry," someone else could see a rather modest way for struggling papers to cut down expenses without sacrificing either jobs or coverage.
The same could be said for the other regular gatherings of journos — say the tens of thousands of media credentials handed out for the national party conventions, the Oscars, or the White House briefing room — all of the events where it seems that journos are more intent to just show up rather than cover any actual news.
Of course, that might mean losing some republic-defending inquiries that opened Robert Gibbs' press briefing this afternoon.