Sunday, June 05, 2016

Bush League Coverage of the Major Leagues

Mets Net Zero In Pages of New York Times

So, just as soon as I got finished extolling the Times for its Muhammad Ali coverage and magazine wizardry over the weekend, along comes an 18-wheeler running up hard in the blind spot of the Times sports section, namely adequate coverage of New York teams.

The Times will soon have a new Mets beat writer, imported from the Washington Post, after Tim Rohan left for Monday Morning Quarterback. In the meantime, they won't shell out for another scribe on the current roadtrip. Today's paper had an AP blurb about Saturday's game. The write-up on today's tilt with the Marlins that's online was done by a desk man in New York who apparently watched the game on TV

While this isn't the first time the Times has pulled this stunt before, it's usually been reserved for late September games when the Mets were long ago eliminated from playoff contention. This, thankfully, is not that team. So, why treat them as such? The Yankees aren't subjected to that treatment. And neither should the Mets, with not only a better record but also exponentially more interesting to watch and read about. 

We get it. There are more people reading the Times outside of New York than in. But If the New York in The New York Times is strictly window dressing, then let us know once and for all. In the meantime, don't subject us to bush league coverage of the major leagues.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Why Print Still Matters, Part II

An Inspired Idea, Above 800 Feet

If you don't normally plunk down five bucks for the Sunday New York Times, tomorrow may be a good excuse for an exception.

The magazine, for its New York issue, is centered on life above 800 feet. It's a different idea, to be sure, with some mind-blowing photography highlighted by the double-fold cover of a guy climbing the spire of the World Trade Center (much better him than me).

But what's especially mind-blowing is that the whole issue is presented sideways, calendar style, as if to bring home the perspective of life literally at the top. In other words, not something you can experience on your iPad. Thank goodness there are still creative types who have not run out of ideas in newsroom. Ditto for them having bosses who let them roam free.

To be sure, the Times hasn't forgotten about its digital diehards, who now make up the bulk of the readership if not the revenue. There is a VR component to the web version. And, being a non-millennial, while I've been a reluctant adopter of the medium, if ever there was an opportunity to showcase it as more than a gimmick bound to be the 21st-century version of the 8-track tape, this story is it.

Why Print Still Matters, Part I

Muhammad Ali's Death On Deadline Doesn't Stop The N.Y. Times

The copy of The New York Times that's hurled on my driveway every morning doesn't always contain late sports scores. It's a fact of life I've grudgingly learned to accept as the price of business for living in the suburbs north of the city. So, it was more than a mild shock to see extensive coverage of Muhammad Ali's death on the front page and the sports section even though the story had broken after midnight.

Because the Times is, well, the Times, it has a deep stable of correspondents, current and former, who actually covered Ali. That's why heavyweights like Bob Lipsyte, had his byline on the obit, which started above the fold on A-1. That's why remembrances were in the can from former columnists Dave Anderson and George Vecsey, sterling as usual.

The obit jump, along with a photo gallery and the columns, took up the first five pages of the sports section. Which meant a lot of hustle in the newsroom with no time to spare. True, reports of Ali's imminent demise were out there. But it's one thing to know about something, it's another to actually crank out the product on deadline. The Times kicked some serious butt on that account.

So, what does this have to do with print? After all, the aforementioned content is on, which now has more than twice the subscribers of the daily print edition. And those stories have since been supplemented by others from the Times stable from those still at the paper, including a Michael Powell column and Rich Sandomir's reflection on Ali's relationship with Howard Cosell.

The point is, there's still nothing quite like spreading out a newspaper to look at the dramatic photos, complemented by dispatches from sports writing heavyweights in one package. If  you're clicking and skipping, you'll inevitably miss out on something. And if Ali, in his prime, was the greatest show on Earth, why miss a minute?