Take a look at this picture:
That was the last time the Indianapolis Star (dated today), the state's largest newspaper, ran a story on the Indianapolis Colts, the state's biggest pro team. Yes, I know OTAs ended in early June. So what? Since early June, this blog has averaged 2-3 posts a day talking about all kinds of Colts-related news and analysis. I'm one guy with a volunteer staff of four. The Star is a major metropolitan newspaper with a sports columnist who likely makes six figures, a beat writer, and a "blogger." Between the three of them, they can't write one friggin story about the Colts in the last three weeks?
On Indy Football Report, another Colts blog who averages 2-3 posts a day, writer John Oehser addressed the Indy's Star's poor coverage in response to a reader email:
My thoughts are several-fold. One is that it’s unfair to judge a newspaper’s NFL coverage in late June, and another is that this is the classic case where often a newspaper’s writers get blamed for something that’s really out of their hands. The Star, like most major newspapers, is understaffed these days and because the NFL beat is pretty much 24-7 from August to mid-June, late June and July is pretty much the only time for extended vacation time. More and more these days, as newspapers cut staff, when beat writers take vacation I suspect you’ll see offseason periods where teams aren’t written about. I don’t know why the Star’s coverage seems to differ from other papers around the league right now, but I do know as an ex-writer who worked beats for many years I never blame a beat guy for taking vacation when it’s possible.
I understand the importance of vacations. We all work hard, and vacations are important to keep people fresh and focused for their work. We're flesh and blood, not machines. But Indy Star's sports writers haven't touched a Colts topic in over two weeks. Kravitz's last article was June 12. Mike Chappell's was June 11th. PhilB hasn't logged a blog entry about anything since June 1st.
Sorry, but that's one hell of a vacation. Wish I had those kinds of perks!
Like John, I'm sympathetic to people needing vacation time, and I understand that newsrooms are understaffed. But seriously, there is literally NOTHING going on right now. The NBA Draft is done (and, to be honest, it isn't anything as exciting as the NFL Draft). The Fever aren't playing. College football hasn't started. So, it's not like there is loads happening and there aren't enough people to cover everything. It also seems rather silly to have all your sports writers take such long vacations at the same time.
Colts coverage for the Star has gotten so bad that today's article, a profile of rookie Curtis Painter, was poached from the Lafayette Journal & Courier. I'll repeat that: The Lafayette Journal & Courier. Going out on a limb here... I'm thinking the Lafayette Journal & Courier has fewer employees (and fewer funds) than the Star. And hey look! A Colts article. In late-June! It's a miracle.
Also, compare the Indy Star's coverage with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rams haven't made the playoffs since 2005. Yet, look at their team coverage: Numerous articles, blog entries, and other media. Notice how their "blogger's" last entry was June 23rd. That's not great, but it is a helluva lot more consistent than the Indy Star's "blogger." Also, check out the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
GREEN BAY people! Population: 102,000.
Their football coverage has new articles and blog entries that are interesting, fresh, and informative. Hell, they even have a scheduled live chat with Press-Gazette assistant sports editor Tom Pelissero. Again, it's late-June, and this paper (which likely has less staff and fewer resources) than the Star has a ton of content for their NFL team, which suffered through a 6-10 season last year and said goodbye to the team's idol (and biggest money-maker) Brett Favre.
So, unlike John, I'm not sympathetic to the Star, their sports writing staff, and their vacation schedules. Since readers clearly expect more Colts coverage this time of year, and since there are numerous Colts stories to discuss, there should be more coverage. Readers are the paper's paying customer. Makes sense to make them happy. And since other papers with similar (or fewer) resources provide more content for their readers, it tends to suggest that the Star's lack of coverage is not the result of budget cutbacks, a lack of resources, or vacation schedules.
It. just. plain. sucks.
I'm not sure if the issue stems from the mega-corporate octopus that owns the Star (Gannett) or the actual staff at the Star. I do know that Gannett is a company in deep financial trouble, and I know that some of the snooty, entitled staff at the Star will likely throw out the lame excuse that "There was no 'news' at that time to cover." Well, the Lafayette Journal & Courier found something to talk about. So did the Post-Dispatch and the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Guys like John and I talk about two or three Colts topics a day. If we can, why can't the Star? Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot.
They're all on vacation.
[UPDATE] Got an email from a reader and it seems the Green Bay paper I listed is actually named Green Bay Press-Gazette, and their Packer coverage is located at www.packersnews.com. They do a live chat with one of their writers once a week during the off-season. That's outstanding. What's stopping the Star from doing something this cool?
Also, did you know the Green Bay Press-Gazette is also owned by Gannett? Seems that the Star's lack of coverage isn't a Gannett thing.