The Globe and Mail has a piece about how U.S. newspapers, facing budget and staff cuts, are reducing the amount of coverage they are giving to NHL teams (via Habs Inside/Out). Some are only covering home games, some aren’t covering their own NHL teams at all. Instead, they focus on baseball, basketball and football, which are much more popular and sell more newspapers.
We can poo-poo them, as we live in the hockey capital of the universe where each paper has about a half-dozen people covering every home game and at least one on the road for every away game. But while our hockey coverage remains strong, other sports like NBA, soccer, NFL football and others have fallen off the radar, and coverage of major-league baseball has virtually disappeared since the Expos left town.
And sports, like cars and movie listings and crosswords, are supposed to sell newspapers, generating the revenue to offset the cost of investigative reporting, arts coverage and editorials. When even they are getting cut, you know there’s something seriously wrong.
I’m still, to a large extent, a rookie in this business. I have no recollection of the good ol’ days when newspapers spent like drunken sailors, had hundreds of reporters and essentially controlled the news.
Instead, I live in a world of increasing cutbacks, threats of more cutbacks (or worse), rising prices, fewer voices, more wire service copy and newspapers struggling to get by with their massive bureaucracies and middle-age staff, their future extinction seemingly a foregone conclusion.
And, like hundreds of newspaper managers across the developed world, I have no clue how to fix it. Or even if that’s possible. (Though if I did know, I could make millions…)
Kind of a sobering thought.
But then again, I’m an eternal optimist. And I’m naive enough to think that I can help them get through this slow crisis, so that’s what I’ll do in my own little way.