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  • same old media complaint, yet again

    Well, my local newspaper (just like newspapers all over America) did it again: stories about T&F scandals (racewalker suicide, Dwain Chambers drug bust) make the front page, but the World Indoors got piddly little one-paragraph mentions. This time I did more than write a letter -- the (relatively) new sports editor at the paper is an old colleague of mine from our student newspaper days at the U. of Texas, and he graciously let me chew on his ear over the phone and beg for some consistency. Either give the competitions the same play as the scandals, I begged, or don't cover pro track at all. He said he'd take my complaints under consideration. (And I can't ask any more than that, since I tell people the exact same thing when they complain about the alternative weekly paper for which I write.)

    I hope our conversation will make a difference. I'll monitor their coverage of the Euro circuit leading up to the Olympics and see what kind of play it gets.

    (In fairness to my friend and his paper, they usually give good play to the Texas Relays and Texas high school championships, both of which are held here in Austin. I made it clear to him that my complaint was limited to their coverage of pro track.)
    "Run fast and keep turning left."

  • #2
    Re: same old media complaint, yet again

    About 10 years back I had a nasty exchange w/ sports editor of San Jose Mercury news after they basically ignored what happened at a terrific Jenner meet and wrote a long piece on whatever the track scandal of the day was. His basic reaction was "Nobody cares about dog bites man; our readers want man bites dog." (scandal sells)

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    • #3
      Re: same old media complaint, yet again

      <World Indoors got piddly little one-paragraph mentions>

      In my local paper there was NO mention of the WC at all. Zero, zilch, nada.
      "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
      by Thomas Henry Huxley

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      • #4
        Re: same old media complaint, yet again

        Pego: You need to move! Even our wretched local paper had brief summaries of the highlights and a photo of Devers after her sprint win.

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        • #5
          Re: same old media complaint, yet again

          I've always wondered why the USATF didn't mount a coordinated grass roots campaign to work with the local print media to educate, inform, and spoon-feed them. When it comes to coverage of high school or college athletics, an effective sports information director can elevate the quality and quantity of coverage. At the pro levels, the perks and access to athletes can make all the difference in the world. Major events like Texas, Drake, Penn, et al, should be more than a 2-3 day story -- and the build-up for an NCAA or USATF meet should be a season-long affair. Garry, I'm guessing T&F News has been done this road once or twice before . . .

          As distasteful as the drug scandals have been, I'm still inclined to believe that the print inches that have been devoted to it could be leveraged to increase the coverage of the sport -- it's certainly increased awareness of the sport. USATF et al are missing a great opportunity.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: same old media complaint, yet again

            Perdita is still on the front pages of the sports sections up here even today.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: same old media complaint, yet again

              The optimist in me agrees with your thought that the current drug scandal might be creatively leveraged to gain more coverage of the sport. As for your comments on USATF, I'm sure their communications office would be open to specific suggestions, but to say they haven't tried is off the mark. It's an uphill battle going up against team sports for which the frequency of competitions meaningful to average Americans is much higher. Few daily sports editors have any interest in the sport. Given USATF's limited budget, how can they change that reality?

              Creative suggestions welcome in Indy, I'm sure.

              >I've always wondered why the USATF didn't mount a coordinated grass roots
              >campaign to work with the local print media to educate, inform, and spoon-feed
              >them. When it comes to coverage of high school or college athletics, an
              >effective sports information director can elevate the quality and quantity of
              >coverage. At the pro levels, the perks and access to athletes can make all the
              >difference in the world.



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              • #8
                Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                Since Stacy Dragila lives in the Phoenix area, there were one or two stories about her before the meet, but none after.
                One uniques event I went to last year was put on by Sky Athletics at a local community college. It was low key vault competetion with among others, Nick Hysong, Jeff Hartwig, Stacy Dragila, etc. It was a chance for people to see the vaulters up close and watch them vault. It is hard to visualize the heights they are jumping unless one sees it up close.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                  At the local level you really can't blame USATF for lack of media coverage of the sport. Given the limited resources, their efforts should be directed at the national media.

                  I think some of the blame for lack of coverage on the local level has to be directed at the athletes themselves. It seems that many of them don't try or don't know how to market themselves to the press. Maybe they think journalists will magically appear and just write about them. But unless you're one of the top stars or live in a market with no professional sports teams or major college sports programs then this will never happen. The athletes need to do a better job of proactively marketing themselves. This in turn will help raise awareness for the sport and bolster their market value to potential sponsors.

                  Case-in-point. I am in PR in the high-tech industry. Recently I volunteered free-of-charge to try and generate media coverage for some local male and female runners who qualified for the Olympic Marathon trials. After an initial conversation, I never heard from the athletes again. Sadly there was no coverage of the male runners' efforts at the trials and I fear the same will happen to the female athlete unless she qualifies for the team, which she has a decent chance of doing. It's a shame because her credentials and background could generate a fair amount of coverage for her and the sport leading up to Women's trials.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                    This sport can't count on ANY newspaper staffer to give it the ink it deserves - and that's just the way it is. It's all about what readers want - and coverage probably reflects that - they know what they're doing. Solution: a national media T&F czar - who(with some help) can feed the best story of the day/week to wire services. One thing I miss in newspaper t&f coverage is the "Track Highlights"(or whatever it was called.. it's been so long..) the LA Times used to have on the agate page. Strictly for t&f fans, but it was compact and gave you the latest performances of note. It could be done now, if provided to papers with no work on their part. Significant results, at all levels, with parenthetical explanations - alltime top 10(HS,C,W)..age records..top 5 for year.. anything that sounds 'big'.. To hook non-t&f fans, maybe 'the czar' could send out statistical lists to accompany WR,etc. stories - all newspapers should have a "Stat Corner"-type feature - all sports fans love those, and none more than t&f fans. I really think that stats, presented right, are key to the sport regaining its rightful following. Even if stat lists include 'cheaters', it's crucial to public interest - 90% of sportspage readers probably couldn't name more than a few current recordholders, or their state's HS or college records. Etc.etc..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                      USATF spoon feed the media?

                      USATF sends out an almost daily press release, does an athlete-of-the-week release, a weekly telephone media conference with two elite athletes where an editor or reporter just has to dial an 800 number
                      to participate from home if he/she likes, makes available a transcript of the teleconference, host a press conference prior to all USATF meets, runs a press/media center at every USATF meet/function, has a web page with athlete bios and current/past releases and a lot of other info, and a national office/staff who are extremely accessible ...

                      You can lead a horse to water - and hold his head under - but you still can't make him drink.

                      As for grass roots, if you are not happy with your newspaper's coverage of T&F, tell them. On this board, we already know it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                        Speedplay: If you weren't being facetious(I dunno..), that all sounded like too much for ANY newspaper sports staff to bother with.(pardon me, if it WAS facetious...) Like I said, the key is "without work on their part" - T&F coverage (beyond local) has to be fed to the papers, so their only decision is 'do we have space for this?'. Maybe it's already as good as it can be - what we do see in the papers IS excellent ..maybe my only worthwhile suggestion is the "Track highlights" - something to catch the eye, and include historical(statistical) perspective to the latest news. It's the only thing I can think of to add to newspaper coverage as now exists.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                          Like I said, the key is "without work on their part" - T&F
                          >coverage (beyond local) has to be fed to the papers, so their only decision is
                          >'do we have space for this?'.

                          Our paper will print all the local track they can. It just has to be given to them. They print tons of other local sports stuff but it's mostly the stuff that the reporters happen to be personally interested in and attend.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                            bf: Here's part of the post I unfacetiously responded to:

                            "I've always wondered why the USATF didn't mount a coordinated grass roots campaign to work with the local print media to educate, inform, and
                            spoon-feed them."

                            Your comment about space is another issue.

                            Yet, you posted: "Solution: a national media T&F czar - who (with some help) can feed the best story of the day/week to wire services."

                            After reviewing your post, I believe I addressed it also. The media IS being spoon feed and USATF is acting as the czar (see Speedplay post Re:
                            same old media complaint, yet again: Tue, Mar 9, 2004 at 11:37:55 PM PST.)

                            And then you say: " ... all sounded like too much for ANY newspaper sports staff to bother with."

                            Which way do you want it?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: same old media complaint, yet again

                              i think shitty track coverage by newspapers has to do with the fact that there aren't really any local professional track teams. it's not like you have the l.a. striders taking on the hartford harriers in a dual. the sport doesn't have enough of a local interest at the professional level to make newspapers want to assign a track and field beat writer to follow teams on the road. same thing goes for the associated press and all of its local bureaus. the olympics will get more coverage because it's team usa vs the rest of the world and it also take place in conjunction with many other sporting events. the world championships probably don't get as much coverage because it's just the track world championships; there aren't the other sports going on at the same time and there isn't the history and the aura that surrounds the olympics.

                              does that make any sense?

                              Comment

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