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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Extra! Extra!

Interesting in how the media landscape is changing in terms of professional sports coverage?

The Sports Business Journal has an excellent piece that details this subject in great depth.

Some highlights:

* Four of the papers surveyed stopped traveling with NHL teams entirely and four others skipped some road trips.

* Three papers skipped some road trips with NBA teams. One stopped traveling entirely.

* Four papers — all of them midsized or suburban dailies — stopped staffing MLB teams. Three others stopped traveling.

* Two papers plan to stop covering nearby NFL teams this season. Two others will eliminate NFL travel.

* The travel-intensive touring beats — motorsports and golf — have gone the way of the blacksmith at most papers
.

This section specifically covers two NHL teams:

The Nashville Predators already felt they were getting short-sheeted in a market that has neither an NBA nor MLB team when the only paper in the town, The Tennessean, stopped sending its beat writer on the road with them for the final two months of last season.

“Even when they were traveling, the amount of space they gave the beat writer was ridiculous,” said Gerry Helper, senior vice president of communications and development for the Predators. “We need more coverage. More attention. If we don’t feel we’re reaching a broad enough audience, or even reaching our core fans (through the local newspaper), we have to find other ways.”

For the Kings, the other way came in the form of the “Royal Road Report,” a Web site feature that runs when the team plays away from home. Starting midway through last season, the team hired freelance writers to attend practices and morning skates, interview players and coaches, cover games and file stories.

When Gauthier was suspended, there was coverage of the announcement that day and a follow-up the next day when the team was in Ottawa.

When the Kings are on the road, the team site offers exponentially more content than either the Times or the Los Angeles Daily News. Now that he’s seen what they can do with editorial content, Altieri said he is warming to the idea of hiring a newspaper pro to cover the team both at home and on the road.

They looked into doing it three years ago, but decided against it, mostly because of the expense. The salary of a seasoned professional likely would approach $100,000 in Los Angeles, a difficult expense when he can’t demonstrate that it will lead to more revenue, particularly at a time when the team’s on-ice performance has been shoddy.

If traditional coverage continues to wane and the team improves, it may be worth the money, Altieri said. The debate then will be whether the front office is prepared to occasionally find criticism on its own site. Without it, fans probably won’t view it as credible, and they won’t come back.

This part talks about how the Preds have opened up to bloggers:

The Preds haven’t gone as far as the Kings in providing coverage, instead trying to build relationships with bloggers, credentialing a couple in Nashville for games and trading e-mails with some who opine on hockey from a national perspective.

Opening the press box to bloggers has become common practice now that the traditional media corps no longer fills its allotted spaces. Teams also are looking more to niche outlets, such as those that serve the Spanish-speaking or Asian communities.

I will say to the Jackets credit they have been open to granting press credentials to bloggers especially over the last year. I haven't been one of them as I prefer to be down with the fans with a jersey on and a cold beer in my hand rootin the boys on but I have spoke with 3 or 4 other bloggers who certainly have taken the Jackets up on the opportunity.

To be honest while I appreciate the Jackets openness to bloggers we really are a lucky fanbase in terms of the coverage we are provided from the Columbus Dispatch.

We have two excellent dedicated writers who provide coverage that in my opinion is unmatched south of the border. They are there for every road game, they blog, they chat, they twitter and they podcast.

That doesn't even count the columns we get from guys like Arace and Hunter or all the pull out specials from season previews, draft previews and who can forget all that playoff coverage?!?


Sure the Dispatch owns 10% of the team but so what? It's a nice competitve advantage that the team has in a non-traditional hockey market. Enjoy it. Exploit it.

Now that's not to say there isn't room for improvement with some of the local television news outlets or 97.1 The Fan (who I actually think has improved quite a bit in the past year - especially the mid-day show).

Should a day come where the Dispatch has to pull the reigns back (and let's hope that day never comes) then I could see the Jackets need to take some aggressive steps to increase their coverage via other avenues.

While I think bloggers certainly have their place in this market - especially for topics like the arena lease issue and general support discussion/opinion - we are in very good hands with the Dispatch as our primary source for Jackets news and notes.

To quote a little Cinderella... we don't want to know what it's like when that coverage is gone. Show your support for these guys by buying a paper once in a while.. click their hockey links.. listen to the podcasts... read the blog... email the editor (sports@dispatch.com) to let them know you appreciate all of their coverage.

...and no I'm not on the payroll (although I did get on a bit of a roll).

Read much more from that article here.

Fire away - how do you feel about the local coverage that is provided for the Jackets?

-LTL

2 comments:

Patrick said...

I agree that we are very fortunate with the amount of coverage that the CBJ gets with the D. I have written the sports editor and praised thier dedication to hockey. Hopefully, the Keith B Whittingtons of the world won't bend the ear of the editor too much!

snappy said...

Portzline, Reed, and occasionally Arace do a wonderful job of covering the Blue Jackets and the NHL for the Dispatch. I am amazed at times to pick up the morning paper (yes, I still subscribe to the hardcopy!) to see nearly one-page coverage of hockey at this time of year. And, of course, there are the online postings as well. Great job, guys!! Keep it coming.

97.1thefan radio coverage is improving but during the week the chatter is mainly NBA, MLB, NFL, and, of course, OSU football. I get irritated at times when they are rehashing NFL crap during the NHL draft, etc, however. Timelines, guys, timeliness... The station does do a good job with "The Coach's Show" and "Breakfast with the Blue Jackets" (Sunday AM) during the season but, alas, those are not on now. I have to say that 610WTVN (AM unfortunately) is building a reputation for their hockey segment at 11AM Sundays. They are now often scooping 97.1 on key interviews. Larsen and his buddies are fairly knowledgeable about hockey and the CBJ as well. I only wish it came at a better time (or at least they would podcast the show).

All-in-all, we are very fortunate to have the coverage we have here in C-bus and surrounding areas. I believe these are essential for the continuing building of the fan base here.