If The Sporting Blog hasn’t done enough to reverse the flagging fortunes of The Sporting News, rest assured, the venerable brand’s new owners aren’t quite finished
putting lipstick on a pig embracing the wonders of the modern age. The New York Times’ Douglas Quenqua explains.
On July 23, American City Business Journals will introduce a daily digital newsletter, Sporting News Today, that will deliver scores and stats to subscribers™ in-boxes every morning.
In September, the print edition will be reintroduced as a twice-a-month magazine, with more color, better paper and a slew of name columnists. The cover price will be the same, $3.99 an issue, and the digital newsletter will be free.
The idea is to try to restore what Sporting News was half a century ago: a place avid fans go for the full spectrum of news from the world of sports (no, there won™t be a swimsuit issue).
The statistics will appear in the daily newsletter, along with video, slide shows and aggregated news, while the print version will focus on analysis and colorful commentary. Among the people who will contribute semiregular columns are Troy Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback; Hank Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees co-chairman, Ron Darling, the former pitcher for the New York Mets, and Will Leitch, whose column for Sporting News will mark his return to the brand after a stint as its online editor about 10 years ago..
œPeople know the brand, they just know it as an old brand, something their father read, said Ed Baker, the publisher. œWe™re creating a new Sporting News, modernizing and contemporizing it in a way that makes sense for today™s rabid die-hard sports fan.
The question is whether morning delivery of sports news might already be too late for many fans, given the preponderance of online resources for those seeking scores before going to bed.
œIf you want to go online at the end of the baseball day, you can go to a number of places and get everything you need to know, said Sandy Padwe, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a former deputy sports editor for Newsday and The New York Times. œI don™t see how coming out in the morning helps you compete, added Mr. Padwe, who is also a part-time consultant for ESPN.com on investigative and enterprise reporting.
Mr. Baker, meanwhile, places faith in the bottomless fan appetite for sports news and the fact that not everybody has the choice of getting the news before they go to bed.
œWhat if a player gets arrested or traded? Things happen overnight, he said in response to Mr. Padwe™s comment. œAnd if the Mets are on the West Coast playing the Dodgers, how many people stay up till 1 to find out the score?
I hate to piss on Baker’s parade, but those columns from Aikman and ‘Lil Stein are gonna have to real killers if TSN hopes to ween sports fans from their existing morning rituals, which are hardly limited to “SportsCenter”, talk radio, ESPN.com, MLB.com, daily newspaper sites, Yahoo, Fanhouse, etc. At the very least, the publisher will have to pray Leitch’s star power will shine brightly enough to make readers forget the incalculable damage Joe Buck and J.C. Watts have done to The Sporting News’ reputation.