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High school sports/local sports magazine - can it work

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by FuturaBold, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. FuturaBold

    FuturaBold Member

    I'm a community journalism guy. I love taking pictures, writing stories, laying out pages and following the local teams in my hometown all season long.

    My big complaint at my current paper is the lack of space for sports. I'm supposed to cover five high schools three times a week in 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pages (with the second page and, if I get a third page, ususually stacked with tons of ads). Frustrating.

    Now I've learned that my chain has been sold. And it's likely the new folks will want to water things down even more to "streamline the operation". Papers will be likely be even tighter. Etc.

    So my question is, would a niche publication that covers the local sports scene where I live work?
    This is a pretty ravenous sports area. People by the thousands come out for high school football, hoops, etc. An alumni football game one Saturday evening last fall (where guys in the 20s and 30s and 40s played against a rival group of alums) drew 1,000s.

    I think it would be neat to create a 24-36 page sports only magazine, maybe that comes out weekly or a few times a month, with a glossy cover, that could expand on all the things I want to expand upon in my area (three counties, 10-12 high schools) giving ample space to features, lots of photos, notes, etc. No more fighting for space with community calendars and obits, I could create my own space.

    But can it be profitable? I think people would read it but would enough businesses support it to make it worth my while? Just curious if anyone else has experience here... Thanks
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Readers will love it; advertisers will wait and see.
    I know of a guy who tried it 13 years ago in a good size town with two very much so rival high schools. It was read and talked about, but he couldn't sell it. And it sank from 32 to 24 to 16 pages...
  3. SchoolSports is a very solid magazine. Go to a high school and pick one up to see a successful hs mag to see what it takes.
  4. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Highly unlikely you could make it go.

    Ad sales are a problem, so is distribution. So are subscriptions, which represent a debt for you as soon as you bank the check.

    The fact that you're looking to start this on a feeling that people would buy it rather than basing it on any sort of research is a negative.

    I get the feeling you're thinking with your heart rather than your head, and that's a tough way to do business.

    If you talk to people about this, a lot of them will plug into your enthusiasm and say, sure, they'll advertise. But will they really write the checks on a regular basis once they sit down and fit this into all their other bills? Advertising is typically the last bill a business will pay because that's the thing they're least worried about being shut off. They <i>have</i> to pay the rent, employees, utilities, suppliers. They'll get to you with what's left.
  5. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Not only can it work, we are currently in the process of proving it does work.

    I'm still at work, so details will have to wait til later or tomorrow.
    But trust me, we are doing it now.
  6. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Are you talking about something that's attached to a paper, and is that what he's talking about?
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Schoolsports also had some big-time financing in place, thanks to connections Jon Segal's dad had. It's the exception, not the rule.
  8. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    If you start that, pretty soon people will bitch that you don't have a middle school sports magazine.

    Moral of the story: Never try.
  9. That's a good point that I didn't realize. Plus it covers entire markets, not just a small town.
  10. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Take your passion and launch a Web site.

    Quit killing trees to engage your passions.
  11. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    At this point, the website option is a lot more appealing. Less money, less dead trees. I know Digital Sports is starting to hire content people. The big thing, if you don't already have one, is getting a site in your area where stats can be accumulated. You're at the mercy of coaches to update it, but having a numbers clearinghouse is a pretty big deal; more people are going to go to your site for that than the Central-Eastview boys soccer gamer.
  12. aztarheel

    aztarheel New Member

    Good feedback and discussion - thanks for all the thoughtful responses ...

    I've thought about the Web-only option as well -- space is virtually endless so I don't ever have to worry about running out of "pages" -- but again, how does one make it profitable? Would a local business really want to pay for Internet advertising?
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