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Local v. National

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DanOregon, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    How has the shift away from national coverage in favor of local news affected your section? What are readers saying? Do you think it adds value or detracts from the overall impression of your section?
  2. Breakyoself

    Breakyoself Member

    i think you need to have a mix. there are some people who don't give two shits about local preps, but by the paper for the overall coverage, including national.

    primary focus on local is important, but i don't think you can all together boot out national.
  3. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Well-Known Member

    You have to have a mix of local and national, with local being the top priority.

    One day we ran an abbreviated baseball page, with only box scores from the teams of local interest, because we were short on space. I took 10 phone calls the next day from pissed-off people.
  4. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I asked it because it seems to me by having some national stuff on page side-by-side of a local story it subliminally elevates the importance of the local story. But conversely, putting out a page with nothing but local lessens the impact of each local story.
  5. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    It's kind of fascinating...I work for a Gannett paper, and they're pushing hyperlocal coverage (the previous editor in chief was almost fanatical about this, wanting rec sports and the like).
    That said, the publisher said she understood that people pick up the paper for wire news.
    On the one hand, I've gotten the phone calls about "Why didn't you cover this game?" and an e-mail from a local athletic director about how bad our paper's gotten and how much is wire copy.
    But on the other hand, when we put all local agate in, the baseball/NASCAR/whoever fans call and bitch.
    We actually had a letter to the editor a couple weeks ago complaining about our PGA coverage or lack thereof.
    I have the greatest job in the world...everyone seems to want to do it for me.
  6. My place is like Walter's. I hear complaints about not enough local, and I hear complaints about not enough national.
    Of course, people don't understand spacial constraints.
    We try to strike a pretty fair balance, but if it comes down to one or the other getting in, the local is going to win almost every time.
  7. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    You can't make everybody happy. I field calls both ways. I have a guy, my first week on the job, tell me we need to do a better job covering soccer, beach volleyball, tennis, hockey and off-road racing. His e-mail came right after somebody e-mailed me about getting more local stuff in the paper. I had a guy call me yesterday saying he was canceling his coverage since we didn't have any LeMans coverage in our Sunday paper. Nevermind that AP didn't move anything until Sunday morning. You can't make everybody happy. Just aim to make the majority happy.
  8. Trucha

    Trucha Member

    I'm convinced that to survive and thrive we have to focus on what we can do better than anybody in the world. That's local. Everything else, somebody -- another paper, ESPN, the Internet -- will do better.

    Our community of 50,000 has made it clear that's what it wants. We quit running MLB, NBA, NHL and Top 25 roundups a couple years ago. We've had maybe three complaints.

    We still get a few complaints about not enough national coverage about specific sports, but we get far more from readers who think we're lazy when we use wire "filler." Most of the complaints come from older readers who still haven't learned their way around the Internet.

    Those folks are important, too, but I'm sure of this: We're not gaining readers who look to us for national news, only losing them because there are so many other places to go that can and will always do it better. Just my 2 cents.
  9. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    So what happens when websites start gaining ground for local? Where I am there's a website that's putting money into increasing coverage of high school sports, another is apparently thinking about doing likewise, and there's statewide sites that hit a lot of the recruiting and major sports. Do we stand down there as well and focus on youth sports and kids riding bikes in the park?

    Never let call-ins dictate your coverage. That's like electing a president on a 1-900 poll.

    And never underestimate the readers who don't throw a hissy fit. We're so conditioned to capitulate to the squeaky wheel that we let them set the agenda. But there's a large group of readers who don't want to have to go to multiple websites or TV stations or newspapers to get all the information they want. No matter what hyperlocal evangelists might tell us, I still firmly believe the daily newspaper should be as much of a one-stop news shop as possible. That doesn't mean blowing off high school playoffs for America's Cup takeouts, but it also doesn't mean putting the NBA Finals on C5 so you can deify the JV girls volleyball team that finished fourth in its district.

    Like the unicyclist riding a wire across the mouth of an active volcano, balance is what's going to save us.
  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    We've been wrong about a heck of a lot over the years and we are wrong about this whole hyper-local thing today. For the most part our readers are mall and superstore people, they expect one-stop shopping.

    I disagree that the Internet does a better job with non-local. What most Internet sites, including the major sports sites, give them is the AP wire, basically unedited for length, thrown into a trough with a few staff-produced pieces, mostly commentary, added in. How does this compare with a sports section tailored to the unique needs of a specific market? What mental patient would prefer to read every full-length AP baseball gamer on espn.com as opposed to the Cliffs Notes version we give them in a roundup, coupled with staff coverage of the pro teams in our market? I think we give our readers a better national product that doesn't waste their time -- what they need to spend 20 minutes on with us would take them all day on the major Web sites.
  11. shotglass

    shotglass Guest


    There's a term for newspapers which blow off national sports completely. They're called "weeklies."
  12. Best post I've read on SportsJournalists.com in a long time. Well done.
    (And obviously I agree 100 percent.)
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