Sports coverage has to join 21st Century
Local sports have been a staple of community newspapers from the very beginning. That fact isn’t changing, although exactly what that looks like must evolve with the rest of the media landscape.The Advocate-Messenger recently restructured the newsroom to eliminate its full-time sports position and refocus those resources on news and other community projects. This was a difficult decision that in no way reflects on the staff, the work they were doing or the importance of that content.Does that mean we are turning our back on local sports and the youth who participate in them? Absolutely not.
Our journalists and contributors will continue to showcase our student-athletes and the programs they make shine.
This decision reflects the changing role of community newspapers and how people expect to get their local sports news. It was driven by hard analytical data that allows us to identify what our readers are interested in and why they turn to us for coverage.
Most people seeking news about high-school and youth sports get that information immediately by attending the games, via social media or through web sites like MaxPreps and others. The days of the newspaper needing to write long narrative recaps of every sporting contest are gone.
Our approach to virtually everything we do here looks drastically different than it did even two or three years ago, yet we — and the entire industry — have continued to take a very traditional approach to sports coverage. Not only is it not sustainable, it doesn’t serve our community and readers well.
Now is the time to change. We need to do what we do best: tell personal stories and partner with those who make a difference here.
Our focus will be on human-interest sports features while also getting more names and faces in the paper.
We have always said The Advocate-Messenger is your newspaper. This will create more opportunity for our readers and our community to be a part of that and share content that is important to them.
If you are at a game, snap a picture and send it to us.
If you are a coach or a parent, send us brief recaps or photographs.
If your team reaches a milestone or has a special accomplishment, snap a picture and send it to us.
If you know of a great sports-related human-interest story, let us know.
Are we asking you to do our jobs? Of course not. Reader-driven content and engagement have been a part of newspapers since the beginning, too.
Sports coverage in The Advocate isn’t going away; it just has to change with the times.
Many of the people who will be disappointed by this business decision and take to social media to criticize the decision are the same people who don’t subscribe to the printed product, won’t pay for a digital edition or don’t support us in any way.
Essentially, they are saying the free service we provide isn’t meeting their expectations. Well, sorry about that.
We continue to look for ways to put “community” into our community newspaper. Local sports coverage remains an important part of that.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Advocate-Messenger. He can be reached at (859) 469-6400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.