Monday, October 25, 2010

Calling Out The Tennessean

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.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass


J. R. said...

I don't work on the sports side of the house at SouthComm, so I don't presume to understand how those decisions are made over at 1100, but the fact is the sheer length of the hockey season makes things difficult on beat writers.
Here at the CP, David Boclair somehow manages to cover both the Preds and Titans (and travels with neither) in a feat of time management that probably needs to be explored by our best scientists.
The Tennessean, though, DOES have a larger staff than we do at the CP - and presumably a larger budget. You're right - they'd never, EVER fail to send somebody on the road with Vandy and the Titans, but those teams play only six and eight road games respectively and in Vandy's case, travel is rarely farther than, say, Lexington, Ky. or Baton Rouge.
I'm wholly unsurprised with the fact the sports front (and the regular front, for that matter) was dominated by Titans coverage, but the game is the game - each tilt in the NFL is necessarily more important than each one in hockey. I did find it curious they slotted in coverage of the BCS standings, which don't have any effect on any team in Tennessee, on the front of the sports section.
There are, no doubt, lots of Auburn fans here in Nashville (as an Alabama alum, I attract them like a magnet), but a paper purporting to be a local news source would have been better served by putting the Preds on the front.

The View from 111 said...

This is the difference between "major league" and "minor league" as far as the paper goes. The Tennessean has proven itself time and again to be "minor league" when it comes to covering the Predators. That is their decision, but no one at 1100 should be surprised at the declining number of subscribers. If the paper wants to promote itself as being a first class publication- a "major league" newspaper, if you will- then their coverage should reflect that attribute. Obviously, it does not. I appreciate J.R.'s point about the length of the season, but so what? If you are going to tout your publication as THE news source then you have to back it up. So far, the Tennessean has shown itself to be a half assed publication that covers the sports when it is convenient for them.

J. R. said...

That was sort of a half-formed (or at least half-explained) thought on my part, 111.

What I meant about "length of the season" there was that because the NFL (and college football) are shorter, each game is necessarily more important.

While certainly the depth of coverage could be better from 1100 - regardless of 16- or 82-game season - the breadth is always going to be wall-to-wall for each Titans game, because football games are of such concentrated importance to the ultimate result of the season.

Again, I agree, that if they are purporting to be the daily, local news source, then they need to be that. Certainly, even if they weren't going to send Josh on the road this weekend, a story about a 5-0-3 start and back-to-back road wins for a team racked with injury, makes a better front page story than something about how a team from another state is tops in the second (completely irrelevant) BCS rankings.

PredsOnTheGlass said...

Thanks for the comments guys. When I stopped over in Denver last week, I picked up a copy of the Post and hockey was on Page two, but it was the whole page with Dater's extensive coverage of the Avs, complete NHL coverage and even some college hockey spilling over to page three. An AP story on page 2 and a warmed over business story just doesn't get it after the Preds soar to number one in the league.

atty123 said...

For what it's worth, they don't send anyone on most away games for Vandy men's basketball, which is the school's most popular team.

It's a sad state of affairs over there and has been for some time. I wish they could have a stringer for the majority of road games -- someone local in some of these cities they could pay $250-500 for articles/coverage. Would eliminate >50% of the total costs.

Every day I wake up and talk myself out of canceling my subscription. Not sure how much longer I can do it.