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How important is the sports section to the paper?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Dick Whitman, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    This came up on the covering-your-kid thread, and seems to pop up from time to time. I contend that sports is basically a supplement to the paper, similar to the business section. Others contend that sports is what sells the paper.

    Of course, there's probably no one-size-fits-all answer. Sports is probably more important in, say, the Gainesville Sun or Bloomington Herald-Times than it is in the Washington Post or New York Times (not to say the latter don't have excellent sections). It is probably more important in the Boston Globe than it is in the Miami Herald.

    Also, if you do think sports is what draws people to the paper, should it? Doesn't it seem at least a little bothersome to you that readers are forsaking real community and national issues in favor of obsessing about who is going to be the next coach at State U or how the local NFL team's running back's turf toe is holding up? Of course, I'm trivializing sports to make a point. I digress.
  2. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    before about 2000 or so i believed sports sections were the most important part of a newspaper. pick the year since when the move to most people using web sites to get their sports news up with immediacy began to pick up steam... that has obviously led to the incredibly fast-falling circulations everywhere and given younger readers fewer reasons to buy the paper.

    so, in a nutshell, my answer would be sports sections don't have nearly the importance as they used to in major-league markets. experts much more in the know than i can better answer the importance of the sports section in areas more reliant on preps sports news.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Great point. I meant to note this same thing. ESPN.com is such a one-stop shop for sports news now. I would guess that the number of people who care about the minutia of a beat writer's report in the local paper is relatively small.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If you judge sports by what is popular on the web, hits for sports easily outdistances all other regular coverage that the paper routinely puts out, except for the random quirky or gruesome news story.

    But the powers that be seem to think that women are the target audience for newspaper ads and that women don't read the sports section, so the interest in advertising in sports doesn't seem to be great.
  5. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Take a look at how little advertising is in your typical sports section.

    When I was at Continental, we would occasionally take out full page ads in the Times & USA Today to announce new service or some other big news.

    We would often request placement in the sports section. We figured our demo skewed towards male business travelers who were sports fans. But, the best part was that we were frequently one of the only ads in USA Today's sports section.

    If they're not selling it, and few are requesting it, there's not much value.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    This is the argument I overheard between an editor at my first job and the citside editor.

    "The next time someone pulls out your section and throws the rest of the paper away will be the first time."

    I thought that summed it up nicely.
  7. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    short answer: Not as important as sports journalists think (naturally) but still pretty important.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    The first paper I worked at revolved around the local NFL team. If you wanted to buy advertising that would run with the NFL coverage, you had to also buy advertising in the entertainment or cityside/local section.
  9. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Interesting, perhaps, to note that within the past two years the Wall Street Journal has added a sports section (such as it is) to bolster readership and the New York Times has beefed up its sports section for its national edition to coincide with a nationwide ad campaign.

    Sports will never be the be-all, end-all driver for a newspaper, but anyone who insists it's not a leading driver is mistaken.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think it would be a safe bet that the people who buy the NYT, the WP or the WSJ aren't buying it primarily for the sports coverage.
  11. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Obits (nothing beats obits)
    Church news

    Classifieds used to be on this list, and I think the Opinion page has replaced it.
    The TV listings used to be a big deal as well.

    After the front page of each section, the news loses steam in a hurry.
  12. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    You'd win that bet. Even so, two of the country's biggest papers obviously believe adding sports coverage is a factor for increasing -- or at least retaining -- circulation. It's clearly a driver by any measure.
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