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New Orleans Advocate purchases Times-Picayune, nola.com

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Moderator1, May 2, 2019.

  1. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    If the combined papers do not staff the Pelicans with a beat reporter with the drama of Davis staying or going and Zion coming to town we know he really, really, really has no interest in NBA basketball. Especially when they staff LSU baseball.

    And to not staff the NBA is taking a Caucasian perspective. I am quite sure the black community in Louisiana, which is 32% of the state, follows the NBA one hell of a lot more than college baseball, even at program as historically as good as LSU.
  2. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    Skipping the important question of racial issues for the moment …

    Let's just delve into the more concrete issue of how you staff and cover beats/events is always a question of resources.

    How will you generate content for online and print? How can you beat deadlines? Who is available? How much money to spend?

    Pelicans vs. LSU baseball
    For the Pelicans, Scott Kushner is an excellent point person, even if he isn't a full-time beat writer. Extremely knowledgeable, great writer, great person. And we can backstop him with the full-time GA in Nathan Brown. And then we have AP coverage. And we have developed a decent network of freelancers. And if the occasion like the playoffs or the All-Star Game or a season opener or a key game calls for added oomph, we've sent people on the road. Plus, the online folks are great at monitoring local and national radio and TV appearances as well as other trending stuff.

    So, yeah, I would have loved to have had a full-time beat writer, and I know the value of that person being available 24/7 and getting on the road occasionally, and there's another level in terms of features and projects and enterprise stuff we never scratched, we never neglected Pelicans coverage. We got creative and figured it out. We did a few things, but, yeah, I always wanted to do more. Then again, you have to consider the mountain of things we cover, and realize how much, from the start, LSU football and Saints football drive the coverage now, especially, like I wrote earlier, now that those two entities are in their golden ages.

    To some degree, with AP and so much internet and new media availability (like pregame with the head coach streamed live through the team's resources), covering an NBA team can be done well without always having a person there. … And, honestly, quality, quality folks like Scott Kushner and Brett Dawson are pivotal in this. Without that top-end person, you're sunk. We were fortunate to have such folks.

    I'd say "fake it till you make it" but that would belie how good a job Scott and Brett did. We did some really good things, and we weren't shy, whenever necessary, to blow out the Pels coverage when needed, especially in the NOLA edition.

    Also, I know, when budgeting, when an NBA game will stop and start (for the most part). College baseball is another animal. Oh, brother, is it different.

    On the other hand, and this is hard for folks outside the area to understand the depths of it, but LSU baseball -- and college baseball, even on the JUCO level, in Louisiana -- is off the charts, completely insane.

    Plus, with weather delays, pace of game, extra innings and the like, trying to get LSU baseball covered is crazy. But vitally important to readers. (Plus, there is LSU gymnastics, which has finished second in the nation three of the past four years and draws 13,000, and LSU softball -- and other state colleges, like UL-Lafayette and Tulane can reach the College World Series and Women's College World Series.)

    Anyway, we can figure out how to get all kinds of backstop on Pels and NBA coverage through freelancers and AP. But when it comes to LSU baseball, there's no AP coverage (many times, the scores don't even move on the wire). You have to have somebody in Natchitoches for a midweek game and Oxford and Auburn and wherever for weekend series. That person has to churn out early content, post any online stuff, beat deadlines for print (9, 10 and 11 OFF THE FLOOR) and make all the posts and updates online. And be there at the end. I don't think LSU sends out a release on its games; the school doesn't need to, given how much media covers the Tigers.

    And our numbers online back up and validate that coverage. LSU is likely to get to Omaha any season. We've made tens of thousands of dollars on College World Series preview issues. LSU fans go to Omaha even when the Tigers don't make the event; that became a tradition in the 1990s. We won APSE awards for those special sections and a No. 1 in breaking news for that coverage.

    Let me go back, tens of thousands of dollars on a College World Series preview section that won an APSE Top 10. That's important. That's real.

    Also, every other media entity covers LSU baseball big time. So, we have to be cognizant of competition as well. There are loads more covering LSU baseball than the Pelicans. That seems crazy to someone in Chicago or Portland or LA, but them's the facts here. … Honestly, and what I would have changed this summer when I had time to process how to do this, LSU basketball is such a nonfactor for readers -- but, of course, there is NCAA scandal now along with, every now and then, there is a meteor year of success. I wasn't going to abandon the coverage, but I would have worked on shifting responsibilities of that writer -- or maybe even doubled down, who knows, I never had time to think it through.

    Around here, these are the three top beats: LSU football, Saints and LSU baseball. And then there's everything else.

    One year, we did turn LSU baseball coverage over to a fantastic freelancer, Chandler Rome, and we sent him everywhere just like we would a full-time, staff beat writer. … And, like the Pels coverage, you have to have that outstanding point person. Chandler, of course, went on to win an APSE Top 10 for beat writing in Alabama and is now the Astros beat writer for the Chronicle.

    Now, the next thing for the Pels to do to force management to decide on fully staffing that coverage. There was a nice uptick in online numbers when the team made the playoffs last year. If they can get some continued success, then we're onto something. And maybe the numbers get a boost with The New Orleans Advocate being the only local player in town. Again, I don't know what they are discussing at this point. … All I can tell you is what we had to weigh in the past in terms of making a decision on coverage.

    Personally, I grew up watching NBA basketball in the 1970s, when my folks took me to Bucks games, and I far prefer MLB to college baseball, but people here treat a throwaway, midweek game like its the seventh game of the World Series, so we have to be all over that.
    Batman likes this.
  3. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    Just to take the discussion a little further. LSU has 56 games scheduled this year and 37 will be televised while 19 will not. Every Pelicans game was televised. Cox, which I guess is the local cable company, televised one game LSU baseball game while they televised every non-network game Pelican game. If LSU baseball draws more interest than the Pelicans why don't they have a contract with Cox for more than one game? My guess is that if LSU baseball had higher ratings than the Pelicans on the SEC network the team would have a contract with Cox. Does LSU or the Pelicans draw higher ratings?

    According to Wikipedia LSU leads the country in baseball attendance and appears to pretty much sell out every game in a stadium with about 12,000 seats. The Pelicans draw about 16,000. But I would bet a lot of money that Pelicans games also cost a lot more than LSU baseball to attend. If that is true that would indicate demand for Pelicans tickets is more than for LSU baseball tickets.
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    You explained it in more depth than I have time to, Joe, so I'll just back this up. It's not a stretch to say that LSU baseball is probably more popular in Louisiana, and South Louisiana in particular, than a lot of MLB teams are in their respective markets. Hell, they had a higher average attendance than the Marlins did last season and probably could have outdrawn the Rays and Pirates if the stadium was big enough.

    Plus, as you said, there are no real alternatives. The AP refuses to acknowledge college baseball exists until the NCAA Tournament starts. So it's either staff it if you have the means (which the Advocate does) or be at the mercy of the SIDs and cobble it together from press releases -- a lot of which have no quotes -- box scores and whatever other sources you can find.
  5. the_lorax

    the_lorax Member

    LSU baseball used to be on TV every night, but when the SEC Network launched, they’re at the mercy of what ESPN decides to show, as ESPN now owns all of those rights. So you’re comparing apples and oranges.
  6. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    This part, from Lorax above, about the TV coverage is accurate.

    LSU was on local cable, every game (at least every home game), for years.

    When streaming first started in the mid-2000s, and LSU baseball postseason wasn't on TV anymore, people around here lost their shit. They were calling the paper nonstop. They were calling their local state representatives and the governor. They lost it. They could not believe they couldn't flip on their TV and get the Tigers without streaming -- what in the hell is that crap???, they'd say. … It was a given for folks in south Louisiana -- and New Orleans is a huge TV consumer of college baseball -- that the Tigers would both host a regional and a super regional, and all the LSU NCAA tournament appearances would be live and free on cable. … The howling was bad enough in the regular season, but those first two or three years, come regionals in May, was hell. We'd have to run explainers in the TV grid and in stories and answer the phones nonstop. Good God, you've brought back nightmares.

    The ESPN/SEC Network changed the dynamic even further, but those games are still on TV or streaming. In fact, for the fifth straight season, every LSU baseball game is available by TV or streaming somehow. Click on this link:
    2019 LSU Baseball TV/Online Schedule Announced

    Following that team -- especially come May and June -- is life or death for people across south Louisiana.

    Our 2017 CWS preview section was 18 pages, won an APSE Top 10 and made tens of thousands of dollars. Huge money. … And we had probably three or four pages inside day to day from Omaha -- blowout takeout features every day. … Hell, the regional previews were at least six pages, maybe eight, once you add in the national content and other state colleges in regionals. … You can still see plenty of them around, but there used to be a time you couldn't go into a restaurant in Baton Rouge without our series of LSU baseball national championship posters on the wall.

    LSU lost to Florida in that CWS championship series, and that made me mad. Not because I'm a homer, but because we were so close to reeling in so much money -- from posters to the commemorative issue. They wouldn't sell that stuff in Gainesville or Tampa or Miami. And so close after pouring so much effort into the product for a month of postseason play.

    I remember chatting with former LA Times sports editor Mike James about how they staffed the 2013 CWS, which UCLA won. We sent two writers and a photog, and had LSU gone further, added more writers and another photog, maybe even a news writer. It's barely a glimmer on their radar screen, while to us, it's everything.

    And, again, LSU fans and Louisiana people love Omaha and the CWS. They go -- maybe not as much as they used to -- every year, regardless of if LSU is in the event or not. It started with all the success in the 1990s, when the event was more compact. The kids would get out of school in mid and late May, and fans would drive to Omaha. After all, LSU was either winning the whole thing (91, 93, 96, 97, 2000) or coming close. So, fans figured they would either be there, or, what the hell, this CWS and Rosenblatt are awesome, so let's just plan to take the kids and them and go. … If you know of another sporting event that developed into something like this, where fans show up and put up flags and cook jambalaya for the whole parking lot, even if their team isn't there, you let me know. It's completely unique. It's just different here.
    justgladtobehere likes this.
  7. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    And believe me, I'm not arguing that I never wanted a beat writer. I'd love for The Advocate to have that. A full-time beat writer would have made my life easier, given us so much more capability.

    That being said, we never skimped on Pelicans coverage. We always figured it out. We had great people to pitch in, starting with Darrell Williams (a former T-P staffer) and then with Brett Dawson and Scott Kushner.

    AND ........... Not having a full-time beat writer didn't mean that the Pelicans went uncovered. I routinely got together with top editors who had great NBA teams and followings, and I took notes, and we did our best to figure out how to get it done. I made sure we never, never skimped. We did the best we could. We did great things. Never think we didn't.

    But, yeah, people here live and die with LSU football, the Saints and LSU baseball. Those are proven winners.

    Plus, you adjust coverage over time. Years ago, we wouldn't have blown out gymnastics coverage. But as that program got better and better and better and became both a national power and a must-see event for fans in the past six or eight years -- 13,000 per meet these days, outdrawing basketball -- we adjusted. … I had a former Pulitzer prize winner do a six-page feature that ran over two days in print and had huge, huge numbers online just before the start of the season. … We've done other blowout packages on LSU gymnastics.

    When Brett Dawson moved from Lexington to NOLA to follow his dream and cover an NBA team, our shared hope in that 2015-16 season was that the Pels would progress and become must-see stuff. And at that point, I could beg our "superiors" for a full-time spot. … But the season was another slog. It might have been that season, but I watched them get blown the blankety-blank out at home to a shorthanded, horrible Nets team on a Friday night in January. You can't pull that crap if you want return customers and want to be taken seriously as a sports team. Not with all the events, sporting and otherwise, we have in south Louisiana and New Orleans.

    I would say, by a wide margin, I go to Pelicans games with my wife more than any other sporting event. As I wrote earlier, I grew up with the NBA in Milwaukee in the mid-1970s, but the Pels are nowhere near what the Bucks are to my cousins in Milwaukee (and not just in the recent Giannis years). I still have 1971 championship gear in my house. I still follow the Bucks. … But the Pels have been an entertainment and, every now and then, a real good team. They left for two years -- with OKC on their jerseys. They've barely been in the playoffs in the 17 or so years in NOLA. They nearly didn't come back from Oklahoma. And they nearly left -- I still have an "I'm In" lawn sign in my office, when fans had to answer an attendance number in order for the team to meet its obligation to stay. And stars like Baron Davis, Chris Paul and now AD are all wanting greener pastures. And to hear national folks bemoan Zion, even going so far as to say he might return to Duke, just minutes after NOLA folks have the joy of a No. 1 pick to get the kid, that stuff radiates and hurts. That's the crap of the NBA these days -- this, everybody but LA, Boston and NYC are small markets. Fans don't have to put up with that, to that degree (I'm sure there exceptions) in the NFL. Mike Thomas has really embraced the city. Oh, and again, the Pels came to this market at the very same time LSU football and Saints unprecedented golden eras. The Saints used to plead for tickets in Baton Rouge. Those days seem so far ago. Remember Curley Hallman? Yeah, me, neither.

    There's a great NBA following in New Orleans. The TV ratings show that. Although, if I'm right, the Pels' local TV ratings are pretty low. If the franchise can turn the corner and get a consistent winner, wow, then they can really grow. I'd love to see it. Can you imagine if AD stays, while Zion develops, and another talent or two lands here? People will come if there's a winner; I'm convinced. … When you walk into the arena in San Antonio, they have those four trophies in a glass case. People love the Spurs. NOLA doesn't have anything like that legacy, and has far more competition for the consumers' attention.

    Maybe The Advocate adds a beat writer. Maybe The Advocate bumps up a travel budget. That's their business now.

    I'm with you all the way in wanting to see that happen, certainly from the basic desire of wanting someone else to have a job. … The intent of my previous post was to illustrate how I can make the coverage function with what we had available -- and, again, you have to have great people -- for the Pels and what we absolutely had to maintain our vice grip as the leader on LSU baseball coverage. For me, as an executive sports editor, it's the Xs and Os of how to get something done. If they would have given me more Xs, damn, I would have taken them.
  8. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    Serious question.

    The baseball stadium at LSU seats about 11,000. Why doesn't the school expand the seating?
  9. Regan MacNeil

    Regan MacNeil Well-Known Member

    If only the Pelicans had ownership that gave a flying fuck about the team ...
  10. Joe Schiefelbein

    Joe Schiefelbein New Member

    Yeah, they built a whole new place in 2008. … The Advocate wrote extensive stories on the arms race in SEC baseball, with Arkansas and State and Ole Miss expanding or renovating stadiums. This may be the best of those: LSU dwarfs most SEC brethren, others nationwide in baseball revenue, profit

    Really, take a look at this article.

    There have been additions to the park, including more luxury suites. This year, if I have this right, they expanded the hitting facility (a boon for current players and a draw for former players to come more often to work out) and added a larger scoreboard/video board. … I know they also increased the championship plaza and hall of fame areas. And they added a video review/analysis area for bettering their analytics in recent years. … Anyway, they tweak all the time.

    Like everyone else in the SEC, they are constantly looking at ways to expand and improve their baseball facility. Oh, and by the way, softball is adding a whole indoor facility (like an entire field … LSU Softball Performance Center plans: Full indoor infield, multi-camera system, weights, cardio). … You can get as creative as you want. People will come, and they have a great pride in it. So if the new AD wants to add more, and I think there will eventually come a time, and I'm sure LSU baseball staffers and boosters have plenty of ideas and dreams and plans, then, I think there will be more expansion. Heaven forbid, LSU fall behind Arkansas or State. Or UL (UL-Lafayette) down I-10 (M.L. 'Tigue' Moore Field at Russo Park) . Or Tulane (Greer Field at Turchin Stadium - Facilities - Tulane University Athletics). Both of the in-state rivals have done a nice job of renovations.

    Here's sort of the other unwritten truth (well, we actually did write about it for a season opener, and LSU stopped putting actual attendance in its box scores -- whoops): People buy season tickets, because they are relatively cheap, in order to secure postseason seats (and weekend series seats). So, early season series against average teams and midweek games are not sellouts. But as the season gets deeper and deeper, the place gets fuller and louder. (It used to be, before secondary ticket markets like StubHub, that you'd go to a game and so many of the infield seats were empty, and the seats down the lines and in the outfield had folks.) To some degree, it's like how you see Yankee Stadium: All the rich folks bought out those swanky infield seats and aren't there game after game, but they'll be there come September and October. … That's almost why the coverage is also important, because people may not even go to those midweek games, but they are intently following to see what happened or didn't happen, what young arm is developing, etc.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  11. Sports Barf

    Sports Barf Active Member

    Does The Athletic cover LSU baseball?
  12. studthug12

    studthug12 Active Member

    @JoeSchiefelbein What happens when no news is ever broken on the Pels? Isn't that a huge thing in the NBA nowadays? Like when AD was demanding his trade etc. Tough to break news when you're not there or if AD say refuses to play in a road game. Still, sounds like you guys did pretty well for the most part without a FT Pels writer as you laid out.
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