Wick Communications

The future of sports coverage

In sports on October 26, 2017 at 2:49 pm

In a recent New York Times piece, Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann left no doubt what they are seeking to accomplish at The Athletic. They want to stomp living hell out of newspaper sports sections.

I say, good on them. Best wishes.

My earliest memories of a newspaper revolve around reading Jim Murray columns in the Los Angeles Times. In the early 1990s, I waited impatiently for Tuesday’s USA Today, throwing away all but the sports section so I could focus on the week’s baseball stats and my fantasy team. That was about the time, I made my living writing sports for newspapers. Tonight, I will gladly cover a high school football game. Sports are never far from my heart.

Ideally, I would prefer the local newspapers cover sports the way they once did. Failing that, competition is good and coverage even better. And it’s great to see someone paying talented sports writers what they deserve for being the local experts on what is often the most interesting part of the town.

Two other thoughts about The Athletic and the threat it represents. It’s one thing to make a bet with other people’s money that you can attract enough paid subscribers in Toronto. It’s something else entirely to do so in Benson, Ariz. I don’t see even a hint that The Athletic envisions taking over the kind of granular coverage that is our bread and butter. …

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‘Takeover’

In journalism on October 26, 2017 at 2:42 pm

If you are a fan of journalism, if you believe this thing we do is ultimately our salvation, please find a copy of the Fall 2017 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review. (Or read it here.) It’s a must-read for anyone producing journalism in the United States today.

The entire issue is dedicated to the relationship between President Donald Trump and the press, and what that means for a society that feels perpetually on the brink these days.

The magazine offers a deep dive into the role of Ivanka Trump in the White House and how her interactions with the press through the years might shape what we see now. A former editor of the New York Observer tells how then publisher (now first son-in-law) Jared Kushner ordered a “hit piece” on a bank executive the Trumps thought had done them wrong. CJR gives us a rollicking history of the White House press room, and a truly scary look at what it’s like to cover a political protest these days. …

Facebook and us

In Social media on October 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm

As Halloween approaches, there is a lot of fright over Facebook. Last week, The Guardian ran a story about tests at the social media giant that included the subhead, “New system could destroy smaller publishers if implemented…” (Apparently, Facebook is experimenting with shifting “non-promoted,” meaning non-advertising posts, off the news feed and onto some secondary feed where no one will ever see them. That would leave your news feed to be all ads and those things your friends post.)

Apparently, when implemented in Slovakia, publishers saw their reach drop 80 percent.

Meanwhile, the CEO of an interesting journalism collaboration startup called Hearken said we should not rely on Facebook anyway if, you know, we want to make money.

We all post to Facebook in a variety of ways. Most of us bought into the idea that we should “go where the eyeballs are,” which in the 21st century is Facebook. I myself have argued that smart publishers want to be seen and that means posting on our platform as well as being thoughtful about all the other ways we can promote our journalism — including Facebook.

The problem is that we have increasingly turned over the means of distribution to companies with their own agendas. When we post to Facebook, we give a third party our analytics. We give up the opportunity to differentiate our product from everything else on Facebook. We train our readers to go there first. And we give engagement to a third party. …