There’s still time for small- to mid-sized newspapers to capitalize on their local franchises — especially in sports. But it’s starting to erode, and quickly.
It’s already bad enough that I can’t get Mizzou basketball on my iPhone from anyone besides The Network. Or that neither local newspaper can seem to post/update/tweet news during MU basketball games (props to the Missourian for their online football coverage this year.) But this is getting ridiculous.
Yes, sports have traditionally been less profitable than other sections of the newspaper, because men don’t generally make buying decisions. But sports blogs like Rock M Nation are building a franchise that’s being ignored by local newspapers, and they have advertising on their site. Most of their content is produced by three guys, and a thriving group of users. It’s not rocket science, folks.
Now, I don’t anticipate that ESPN will start a Columbia site. We’re not a big enough market — yet. (Or, put another way, they likely don’t have the scalability to make this work on a lower level.) But they can certainly launch a site/show in St. Louis or Kansas City that covers Mizzou sports.
Bottom line: We cannot afford to ignore our local strengths. We cannot afford to be complacent about what we have to offer because it’s “too local” for anyone else to care about. And we have to aggressively expand into areas where we own the market, to make sure we keep owning that market.
Buggy makers didn’t die because someone else made a better buggy — they died because another technology stole their core business. Why don’t journalists get this?