Today's topic is rather tired and nothing new, but I take my cue from the object of my story and choose to rehash something old because it's a slow news day in Preds Nation and I needed an attention grabbing headline.
The Tennessean has been a part of my life for over fifty years, dating back to the days as a toddler when I would run out and get the paper for my father each morning before breakfast. I have been a reader my whole life, even when I lived in Knoxville for eight years.
I have not been a subscriber for several years and rarely hold the dead tree version in my hand as the web version usually suffices. You might say that since I'm not a "paying customer" that I have no right to complain. That is not true in today''s media as I "pay" by viewing the ads on the internet (I'm sure that's the logic with their advertisers).
First, I will give the Tennessean major kudos for for hiring Josh Cooper as their new beat writer and actually sending two reporters to most home games. Josh's (and Bryan Mullen's) coverage has been great this year, primarily driven by Tweets and blog updates. That aspect is a huge improvement from what has been done in the past.
I'm even willing to give the guys a free pass on the humorous "We want Crosby" debacle from last week. The article provided several laughs and was good fodder for funny followups and tweets.
My complaint lies in the fact that the Tennessean refuses to put the Nashville Predators on equal footing with other sports entities in the Nashville area. Can you imagine if the paper did not send a beat writer to a road game involving the Titans or Commodores? Would a neutral biased AP story suffice as their coverage?
That is what Predator fans got in their football-filled Sunday and Monday Tennessean when the team beat the best team in the West and the East on consecutive nights.
From a business standpoint, especially in these days of tight finances in the newspaper business, I can understand that they could blow off spending $1000 to send Josh to these two games since they had plenty of football to fill the inches.
What the managers at the Tennessean don't seem to realize is the public relations damage that they are doing with true Predator fans that expect more from the local paper. Fans want to see the paper "All In" just like they want to see the full effort on the ice every night.
The Tennessean has alienated many Pred fans over the past few years with their ongoing attacks on the team. Some stories have been justified but many have been pointless rehashes of old news merely to grab a headline and fill inches on slow days.
While I don't expect the Tennessean to be a cheerleader for the Predators, I do hope they would acknowledge that Nashville currently has the best record in the NHL and considers that a fairly major story in the local sporting press.
On a national scale, the "prestige" of the Tennessean as the local voice for Nashville could be called into question in Dallas and Tampa when local "Bloggers Row" members Amanda DiPaolo (Dallas) and Jeremy Gover (Tampa) are the only media covering the games over the weekend.
I'm sure my call to send Josh to cover all 41 road games will fall on deaf ears but he needs the chance to do the job he has been given to the best of his abilities. He can't do that sitting on the couch or watching a bootleg internet feed of the game.
As much as the Tennessean is held in disdain by Predator fans, an announcement by their management that they would cover all games equally, regardless of the cost, would probably go a long way in mending a few fences and getting a few lost subscribers back into the fold.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass