Covering the Coverage: Local Newspapers

soccer paperWith the Summer winding down, we thought we would take a look at the coverage of American soccer in the United States.  A  couple of weeks ago, in Part I, we took a look at the mainstream media.  To read that article, click  here.  Thereafter, we took a look at sports radio. Today, we are going to take a look at local newspapers.  Although many consider the local paper a dying enterprise, papers still represent an important source of news and sports coverage; especially for local teams.  Despite shrinking staffs at many papers, beat writers still cover local teams and provide the regular features not available in the insta-news driven internet.

Levels of coverage vary widely across the country.  Some papers like the Washington Post and Houston Chronicle provide regular and detailed soccer coverage of both national and local teams.  They offer dedicated beat reports who follow the local MLS franchise and provide the in depth feature and news reporting common to the rest of the  major sports.  Others like the New York Post and Boston Globe provide limited soccercoverage of their local teams and often rely on pool reports or stringers to cover their games.  The recent departure of a dedicated soccer write lie Frank Dell”Apa has weakened the once strong coverage of the Globe. Some markets like Seattle, Toronto and Salt Lake City have multiple media outlets that provide regular coverage of their local MLS teams.  Papers in these markets offer multiple articles a week and sections of their websites devoted to their local team.  Yet,   in Los Angeles, soccer doesn’t even make the primary lists of sports of the Times.

Some reporters have moved to other outlets to continue to cover the beautiful game (often in addition to their paper responsibilities).  Many fans are familiar with Steve Goff’s Insider and Soccer By Ives.  Others, like Dell’Apa contribute to ESPN or follow Andrea Canales’ lead to soccer publications.  Kyle McCarthy of the Herald has taken much of his content to Twitter.

So yes, soccer fans are typicaly an internet savvy bunch.  Many get their coverage through web sources, including first person accounts by fans and message boards such as Big Soccer and others.   Yet there is a huge soccer audience, largely under-acknowledged by these internet fans, that still relies on local papers for their news (whether online or in paper form).  When MLS is relegated to standings table or short AP blurb, their opportunity to follow the team is greatly diminshed. The absence of such local coverage is a severe detriment to the teams and the fans.

Perhaps more importantly, it is the local reporters that ask the tough questions of coaches and players before and after games.  Their familiarity with the team allows them to provide unique insight not available to the national media.  Without local reporters, fans are left to their own observations or those of the web sources where analysis frequently turns to argument.  Local coverage allows fans to get closer to their teams whil providing a typically objective and reasonable view of the day-to-day of the squad.

So is local coverage still necessary?  Is it important?  How does your local paper cover soccer/MLS?  Please let us know your thoughts.

Advertisements