Will the Post-Gazette Lose Another Reader?

I sat down at the keyboard this morning ready to get wound up about the unbelievably stupid editorial decisions down at the Post-Gazette. When I looked in the sports section this morning for coverage of the US win over Mexico last night (2-0, in a ho-hum game), I found nada. Zilch. Zip. The line score was reported in the box score section, along with a win by Costa Rica (v. Honduras) and a surprising tie between El Salvador and Trinidad & Tobago. (In related news, Ireland beat Georgia, 2-1, and Bahrain held off Uzbekistan, 1-0.)

The US-Mexico game was played in Columbus, a mere three hours from Pittsburgh. There were three P-G writers covering the Penguins-Sharks game last night. That was an important game, because months from now, the Penguins might make the playoffs of a minor professional sport. (Ice hockey has passionate fans in Pittsburgh, but it's a minor professional sport.) One warm body couldn't have been spared to cover a major match leading to the 2010 World Cup finals, the culmination of the biggest sports tournament in the world?

As many countries participate in the World Cup (204 in 2010) as send athletes to the Olympics (205 have National Olympic Committees, but Brunei sent no athletes to to Beijing). More countries participate in the World Cup than have seats at the United Nations (192). Almost as many countries participate in the World Cup as have country code top-level Internet domains. There are 251 country code top level domains (that's my own count, though certainly someone should re-check my math). But we all know how promiscuous the IANA has been, and many of those ccTLDs don't correspond to actual countries.

I even know to a certainty that there are soccer fans lurking on the paper's editorial staff. I wonder: Does China Millman have a soft spot for Landon Donovan? She's been tearing up the paper recently ("China Millman is everywhere" is a post that I've been dying to write), and the P-G could do worse than to put her on the soccer beat.

But then I remembered that no, the Post-Gazette shouldn't cover national or international news. Seriously: If it has any chance at survival, the Post-Gazette should invest more resources in local coverage--such as the upcoming high school basketball playoffs, which get plenty of inches today. The P-G can and should be the hub of Steelers Nation and its adjuncts. Readers who yearn for insight into the world beyond Southwest Pennsylvania can get all the soccer news they need in a national paper of record, like USA Today.

As you were.


3 Responses to "Will the Post-Gazette Lose Another Reader?"

Drew said... 2/12/2009 2:18 PM

Pretty amusing post, Mike.

My opinion was with you up to the end where you pretty much debunked your whole argument. It's probably true that local papers have to be just that, local, in order to have any chance of survival.

It would be an interesting idea to bail out (almost entirely) on national and international news. I believe in print version, you have to devote a newswire page or two on AP headlines to keep print-only readers informed.

Bram Reichbaum said... 2/12/2009 3:47 PM

Well, local newspapers also have to be opportunistic and interesting. It is true that the national media is knocking itself out addressing federal economic stiumulus for example, not to mention war and peace and various tax evaders in the administration. However, there would probably have been room for an ambitious Pittsburgh writer to make a big deal about the major international soccer tournament occuring in the Rust Best, and perhaps what it all means.

Next time.

John Allison said... 2/13/2009 6:40 PM

Futbol? You like futbol? How can you like a sport with not enough time for hilarious commercials?

Mike, I appreciate your thoughts here. John A

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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