Dear Newspapers: You Don't Have A Monopoly On Local News Coverage

from the neglect-it-at-your-own-risk dept

In talking about business models for the newspaper industry, one point is often discussed: that newspapers are uniquely positioned to provide really good and thorough “local” news coverage. And while they often do a superficial job, in many cases they really don’t provide as useful or as thorough coverage as they could. And that’s opened up the market to others — both big and small. We’ve seen a bunch of stories about various “hyperlocal” startups growing up. But, it need not be startups. BullJustin (who, btw, was the fastest on the trigger and was the very first buyer of our CwF + RtB store) alerts us to a story about how sports giant ESPN is moving in a big way into local sports coverage, hoping to take attention away from newspapers who could use some competition on the beat. Funny then that, as we’re being told that there’s no business model to support beat writers, ESPN seems to be finding an increasing need for them.

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Companies: espn

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Comments on “Dear Newspapers: You Don't Have A Monopoly On Local News Coverage”

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Anonymous Coward says:

… and the 300 pound gorilla sits “here” for a moment.

Newspapers don’t have a monopoly on local coverage, but can you tell me exactly how many city council meetings ESPN will cover?

I ask because as the bigger national players pick away at local coverage, we risk ending up with a sort of “clear Channel for local news” where your local report is in another city 800 miles away reading press releases because there isn’t anyone on the ground anymore. Run the newspapers (and local TV) into submission, and then stop paying the stringers and ask the local teams to send press releases with the scores and news instead. Perfect business model, right?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Newspapers don’t have a monopoly on local coverage, but can you tell me exactly how many city council meetings ESPN will cover?

Heh. If you paid up for you Techdirt Crystal Ball you’d see we have an upcoming story on exactly that point. There are lots of new organizations springing up to cover local news and the do an amazing job of it.

If there’s demand, the products are made. You have such little faith in the markets ability to work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Haha, having not paid for the crystal ball and waited a few minutes, I got to read your “story” about the local news and I pretty much spit my coffee out.

Technically functional solutions (in that case insider info) doesn’t make it news, it just makes it a one sided story. It makes “news by press release” look like deep and meaningful journalism.

NullOp says:


Local news from the “Big Guys” is mostly crapola. They mostly print news that has been managed, i.e. sensationalized for the benefit of sales. The same goes for TV. When I do read the paper I am amazed what makes the front page and whats buried in the back. The only paper I really enjoy reading is the WSJ. Generally, journalism is dead in America.

Migzy says:

Another Local New Source - Online Bulletin Boards

Recently my dad came out to visit me, when he got a call about forest fires near his house in Kelowna, BC, Canada. While on his way home(4 hour trip), I was able to do a quick internet search about it, and give him several updates as to what was happening. I found a few articles on a couple local webpages, but I also found a bulletin board dedicated to fire coverage in the area.

What I found simply amazed me. There were people on there listening to the fire scanners to find out where the various fires were, how big, etc. A few of them were even some people who opted not to evacuate the evacuation zone. Not to mention, during a local thunderstorm, a number of people actually went out to investigate some of the lightning strikes or to see where the firetrucks went and report on whether or not a fire had started, if it was out, etc. While I wouldn’t call it traditional journalism per se, but I would definitely say they are providing a source of news, albeit in nearly real-time.

In addition to providing real time news, the boards were also full of offers to house people, pets, horses, etc during this time of need. Some inside the evac zone even went out of their way to check on neighbors pets, as the evac order was given shortly after the fire was started in mid afternoon and many weren’t home at the time and weren’t allowed to go into evac zone. The board allowed for a lot of people in the community to really come together in this time of need.

All in all, the board provided a welcome community that no next day newspaper could provide. In fact for a lot of stuff I would consider newsworthy such as local spot fires that started but were put out were no where to be found leading many people to wonder where the fire trucks went or if the fire was out.

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