Aside from alerts about incorrect information in sports stories, one of the topics readers raise most often with me is the balance between content produced locally or by wire services.
There’s a buzzword in print journalism these days, “hyperlocal,” the definition of which I’m not convinced anyone in the industry truly understands. The term usually is attached, though, to the theory that the print media, faced with competition from the Internet, must redouble efforts to cover every twitch and twitter of the home market, because that’s information readers find nowhere else. With print circulations tending to decline nationwide, the theory suggests that “hyperlocal” journalism is the best way for newspapers to remain relevant and financially viable.
Fair enough. But for newspapers such as the Daily News, it seems hyperlocality is always the driving force. Look at our front pages – more often than not, they’re fully local. Same for the sports front; whenever possible, that space is filled with stories of direct interest to Bowling Green and Warren County. Even if the local stories aren’t “major” news, they are stories readers can’t get elsewhere.
Sure, exceptions are made for major state or national news. The lead story in Monday’s sports section, for example, was the sentencing of Michael Vick on federal dogfighting charges. We’ve run Vick stories regularly on inside pages over the past few months, but rarely is it front-page material, much less the lead. Monday’s court session, though, was an unusual circumstance – especially because the timing of Vick’s sentencing made it impossible for that day’s morning newspapers to have the story.
University of Kentucky and University of Louisville content is a different matter altogether. With so many WKU and prep sports available to cover locally, we generally don’t have the time or the resources to directly cover either of those schools. But it’s a mistake to ignore that there are as many fans of those schools – and in the case of UK, probably more – among Daily News readers as there are WKU fans. So, as one of Kentucky’s largest daily newspapers, the Daily News is obligated to ensure UK and UofL have substantial representation in the sports section. I’m questioned fairly often by UK fans about how and where Wildcat sports appear in the Daily News. The short answer is this: in Bowling Green, UK is at the mercy of one thing – the amount of local sports to report on a given day. After that, UK and Louisville become the main priority.
From there, it’s kind of a crap shoot. Sunday editions, for the most part, are the best places to find information about, say, the NBA, Major League Baseball or Top 25 college sports outside of UK and UofL. Midweek editions, which often have less available space, occasionally must be devoted almost entirely to local words and photos. Some readers celebrate that. Others, for whom the Daily News might be the only source for sports news, might wish we’d found room for this national football game or that top 25 basketball game.
I do my best to remember that folks turn to the Daily News’ sports section for all kinds of reasons, and I try to put together sections that are suitable mixes of local, state and national news. But when forced to choose between a local prep story or some far-away college football game, the local story will always take top billing.