Saturday, June 04, 2016

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?

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