One of the main corners in which big daily newspapers still lead, is the sports section. There are blogs galore just as in politics, but locally the Commercial Appeal is still the go-to leader for local sports info. Once again though, ESPN is coming to take a chunk.
ESPN has been rolling out regional websites. New York, Chicago, and Dallas, (among others) all have specific ESPN branded websites. They have been snatching up local beat reporters and columnists, startling the local papers. Again, a tiring industry seems to be caught off guard.
In a recent Real Sports story on HBO, 285 year old (but still bad ass) sports reporter Frank Deford, interviewed giant jerk-wad sports writer, Jay Marriotti about the state of newspaper reporting. Jay was recently fired (er, resigned) from the Chicago Sun-Times and is now working for AOL’s sports site, The Fanhouse. He explained the breaking point for him. In essence, while covering the Beijing Olympics Jay was asked to write two versions of a story about Michael Phelps. He found it insane to have to fake a news story about a historic event just to meet print deadline. I understand what he was saying. I was sad it was Mariotti who had to say it.
Now, the sports fan is trained for immediacy. He does not wait for the paper to get the scores. Sports has been effectively time-shifted. The dead tree paper cannot compete in that paradigm. Will the newspapers realize the web is where sports fans, among others, get their news? That being said, it does no good to have good writers, well-developed beats and blanket local coverage if you are standing around picking your nose when it comes to the delivery system.
Just like Craigslist, ESPN will happily take your lunch money.