Declining sports coverage

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.

7 thoughts on “Declining sports coverage

  1. Jesse L.

    Well the fact is this. why covering a sport we can barely watch. The fun of a sport is in big part cheering for one team.

    How do you expect people to buy newspaper for something they can’t see. Let’s say me; big fan of NFL games, i love the saint but even if I wanted to pay to see them on TV I can’t. My only alternative is watch it on my computer… (and we all know how great this is… couhg*)

    Baseball… no one was going to the Expo game why all of a sudden the interest would be more there?

    On the other hand we cover Canadian Football that ppl love wathcing, Canadiens Hockey of course a classic and the Impact of montréal that is making us very proud now.

    I’m just saying just cuz people prefer hearing about what they see and watch and are proud. I mean it’s normal the papers adapt.

  2. Fagstein Post author

    Despite what you might think is a lack of interest, the fact remains that many readers complain about the lack of NBA coverage, or NFL, or baseball, or motorsports, or even curling.

    Perhaps their demands are unreasonable for a general-interest paper, that they’re a niche minority. But they’re still vocal about their preferences.

    Sometimes I think the hardest job at a newspaper is the sports editor, because everyone picks at your coverage decisions with a fine-toothed comb.

  3. princess iveylocks

    If they’re so concerned about NBA and NFL, why not buy Sports Illustrated? Methinks CFL, etc., get the shaft.

    Also, I’m racking my brain to recall Magic Pony Unicorn Land spending days at newspapers that “controlled the news”… but all that comes to mind is Citizen Kane.

  4. Fagstein Post author

    Perhaps not “controlled” the news, but they were the news. Everyone got their news from the newspaper, even other media outlets.

    The idea that people should just get a second news source for their individual interests makes sense, but people get angry because they’re paying for two things when they think they should have it all in one.

    When it comes down to it, any non-local news can be gathered from other sources online. But once you strip out all of that, what are you left with?

  5. Jean Naimard

    Decllining sports coverage? Are you kidding? You can bet your arse that the powers that be will never allow the new people’s opium to wither and die! It’s much too important, otherwise, the little people may start to get interested in politics!!!


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