Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sporting News To Be Relaunched

Starting in July it will be a daily digital newsletter, and starting in September it will be a twice weekly magazine:

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; and Ron Darling, the former pitcher for the New York Mets . . .

. . . “People know the brand, they just know it as an old brand, something their father read,” said Ed Baker, the publisher. “We’re creating a new Sporting News, modernizing and contemporizing it in a way that makes sense for today’s rabid die-hard sports fan.”
For purely nostalgic reasons I hope it works out. I know it has become a cliche to say this, but I was one of those guys who used to get The Sporting News every week and devour box scores. Will I do that again? Eh, I'm usually on the game casts or reading the box scores in real time now, hitting refresh until the game goes final so I know how it ends before I go to sleep. It's almost pathetic to say this, but the proposed next-day delivery of all of that info may be too late for an obsessive like me.

Still, unlike a lot of brands which have fallen into disrepair, I think The Sporting News is one that can rebound if handled properly. Not because the brand will directly attract readers, really, but because it will attract writers. Content is everything, and no matter what your vision is, if you don't have quality people providing good copy, you don't have anything. I think there are a lot of major writers out there who, like me, grew up on the brand and would love to contribute to it if given the opportunity. Is The Sporting News well-funded enough to poach a few? Hard to say, but I bet they could get a decent revolving cast of contributors. The article mentions that Leitch is already on board. They could no doubt attract others.

If they're simply selling next-day box scores and jock articles, it won't work. If the writers are there, the readers will come.


Sony said...

If Sporting News takes modern sensibilities into account in its hiring, it might succeed. Getting grizzled old journalists that populate most dailies will not attract readers.

It should be easy to find good writers on the cheap. The blogosphere is full of them in every sport and most writers on the internet would sell their content for cheap. The New York Sun is executing this well and rounding out its content with AP feeds (http://www2.nysun.com/section/7) .

Pete Toms said...

C, hadn't seen this, thanks a lot.

I am a customer of the company -American City Business Journals - that publishes TSN, being a subscriber to SBJ. Like the new model for TSN, SBJ also emails a daily "publication", Sports Business Daily. I subscribe only to the weekly print publication. Anyway, they do a hell of a great job with SBJ and I hope they do great things with TSN.

TSN was a revelation to me as a young sports fan. For a handful of years my mom bought me a subscription to SI but when I found TSN, it was no contest. I've always - evidently even as a kid - wanted information more than reporting. I preferred TSN to SI because I wanted information, not pieces full of irrelevant, false subtext about superstar jocks and superstar events. I was as interested in who the backup middle IF was in Minnesota as I was looking at great photos of the World Series. TSN was about the nuts and bolts of the leagues and teams. SI was about the celebrities and the big time sports "events".

I agree that content is king today. Nobody is going to compete with big corporate sports media ( ESPN, the nets, TBS etc. ) in the contest to provide the most up to the moment ( ok, real time ) information on the day to day competitions and goings on. But perhaps you can compete for talent. Perhaps you can be, or discover the writers that big media isn't finding....or maybe I'm just nostalgic for TSN. Anybody remember newsprint? The shitty, cheap stuff that left your fingertips black...oh the gold ol days.

Anonymous said...

Note that according to the article, The Sporting News will come out twice monthly, not "twice weekly". Which makes more sense if it's faltering as a weekly.

Dre said...

Thanks for noting this... I hadn't seen it. Always have been a big fan as TSN, kind of disappointed to see it go biweekly though. Wonder if my subscription will double in length as a result.

Anonymous said...

They've already hired several talented writers from newspapers. No offense to talented bloggers such as yourself but a publication like Sporting News needs reporters who are credentialed and have access.

With that said, columns by celebrities like Troy Aikman and Hank Steinbrenner are almost always stupid fluff that are nothing more than a marketing ploy (ie. a prayer that Yankees fans will buy this new e-rag so they can hear their new boss rant).


Craig Calcaterra said...

Amos -- don't get me wrong, here. I agree with the notion that they need (and can attract) mainstream writers to up the quality quotient. I'm not lobbying for a job with the sporting news and don't suggest that they should go all bloggy because, really, there's a lot of that already.

It's probably worth noting, though, that two of TSN's "gets" in the past few months have been Will Leitch and Dan Shanoff, and those guys are bloggers, even if they aren't blogging as such for TSN.

Anonymous said...


I don't think we're disagreeing on anything. It seems like, in theory, the new editor gets it. That's why he's hired talented so-called new media types. But they also hired several reporters and editors from the Dallas (or Ft. Worth, I'm not sure) paper. They also hired the guy who covered the Thrashers for the Atlanta Journal Constitution to be national hockey writer. These are not tired, grizzled hacks. A good web site needs to break sports news in addition to writers like you who are limited to providing analysis and commentary on news that others break and report on.