Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Whine, whine, whine

C: You need to pay more attention to local sports (high school, junior high, youth). You're not a national newspaper! So stop trying to be one!- J.B.

A: If you haven't noticed, weekly newspapers have all but disappeared. That's a shame, because they covered things like Cub Scout blue-and-gold banquets and youth sports. So readers turn to the daily newspaper and complain that we don't cover this stuff. We could cover midget football and junior high basketball games, but at the expense of what? NASCAR? Pro football? Sorry, but there are way more readers out there interested in the NFL and the Pirates and Tiger Woods than, say, T-ball.

I think as a society we place way too much emphasis on youth sports, anyway. We've reached a point at which athletics often takes precedence over academics in our high schools. The space newspapers give to scholastic sports may be a contributing factor.

We've made a conscious effort at this newspaper to devote more attention to student achievements in academics, music and art. Maybe we should instead be cutting back on youth sports coverage.

What do you think?


Brant said...

First off, love the new look of the blog. As for sports coverage, I think we do about the right amount of coverage of high school sports, and I think that since Chris Dugan took over as sports editor, we've correctly dialed back our coverage of small-college sports, which had gotten out of hand. Suggesting that we cover junior high and kid sports is a joke. The only people who care about junior high and youth leagues are the parents, and since they attend the games, they don't need us to report on them, unless they're looking for an ego boost for their kids or, vicariously, themselves. I consider myself the average sports fan. I closely watch pro football and baseball, have a good working knowledge of the NHL and NBA, and have a passing interest in local high school sports. If our newspaper reduced coverage of the pro sports in favor of kids coverage, we would quickly lose readers. As I've often said about coverage of high school and small-college athletics, the people who really care about those games are there to watch them in person.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with your opinion about the demise of the local weekly newspaper, whose content is 100% local news and information. This publishing segement is actually the healthiest, and the only segment of newspaper publishing that is groiwng. These newspapers stay very in-tune with their local readers, and therefore report the news that is important to the communities they serve. It is not necessarily tradtiional news, but news that presents the human face of the day-to-day lives of the people in the communities they serve.

So then what you are saying is that there is room in your market for a weekly newspaper that gives readers what they ask for? Why not allow readers to submit local sports information and make it available online. Free content provided by interested readers, published without cost online?


Park Burroughs said...

Large, free-distribution weeklies in urban areas are doing well. Small town weeklies aren't - at least around here. There was a time, not long ago, when Burgettstown, McDonald, Claysville, Bentleyville, Charleroi and Canonsburg were all served by strong weekly papers with all local content. They're all gone. The only community weeklies left - The Almanac and the Community Press, both published in Peters Township - serve large areas.
We can offer the type of content that used to be in weeklies on our Web site, and we should, and we will. That's the direction we're going in. But getting there is more difficult than we figured.