Sunday, June 23, 2024

Alden secures San Diego in Sports pages shake-up.

Mainstream Newspapers in America’s Largest Cities Moving Away from Traditional Sports Pages to Cut Costs

Daily newspapers in America’s two largest cities announced they’re doing away with traditional sports pages as they look to cut costs. Both are industry outliers in unique situations. The New York Times is a public company in a league of its own and the Los Angeles Times is owned by a local billionaire, Patrick Soon-Shiong. Even so, their decisions to alter a beloved, core offering should further raise awareness of the newspapers’ ongoing financial challenges.

Industry-wide Struggles Amid Changing Consumer Habits, Technological Disruption, and Unfair Competition

While high profile, their sports changes pale in comparison to more brutal cuts happening at thousands of smaller papers as the industry struggles to find its footing amid changing consumer habits, technological disruption and unfair competition with dominant tech platforms. The New York Times is “disbanding” its sports department, atomizing the staff and pushing readers to pay extra for sports coverage by The Athletic, a money-losing news startup it bought last year for $550 million. The Athletic set out to take readers from local papers by covering every major team but that threat may be receding, as the site’s ambitions are throttled down.

The New York Times’ Changes: Dispersing Staff, Focusing on News and Enterprise Journalism

The New York Times is closing its 35-person sports desk and dispersing its staff across the newsroom. The Athletic’s larger staff will provide most sports coverage and its stories will now appear in the print paper. Editors reportedly told staff sports coverage will focus more on news and enterprise journalism and they “will scale back the newsroom’s coverage of games, players, teams and leagues.” This also means readers have to pay more to get the fuller sports report. They must upgrade to the paper’s bundle of premium offerings to access The Athletic stories online.

The L.A. Times’ Shift to a “Sports Magazine” Format and Alden Capital’s Acquisition of The San Diego Union-Tribune

Simultaneously, the L.A. Times informed readers that its sports section will become more of a “sports magazine,” ending daily game stories, box scores, and other fixtures. This followed a 74-person layoff announced last month. In a note to readers, it said it’s making the change “to adapt to how readers follow news and sporting events each day while managing rising production costs.” The reaction of readers to such changes is familiar to smaller papers that for years have trimmed staff and sections to stay afloat. Lately, they’re cutting print days, delivery routes, and Sunday papers.

Regarding the L.A. Times, the publisher’s surprise announcement Monday that he and his family sold The San Diego Union-Tribune to Alden Global Capital overshadowed the sports changes. Soon-Shiong bought the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune in 2018 from Tribune Publishing, paying $500 million and offering stability after years of turbulence.

Positive News for Maine Newspapers as They Are Sold to a Nonprofit

Hopes are higher for another major newspaper sale announced Monday. The owner of Maine’s largest newspaper chain opted to sell to the National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit formed in 2021 to help acquire and sustain local newspapers. Its first acquisition was a chain of 24 papers in Colorado. “I couldn’t imagine a better outcome for the future of our newspapers, our employees and the state of journalism in Maine,” Masthead Maine CEO Lisa DeSisto told the group’s flagship paper, the Portland Press Herald. Masthead publishes five dailies and 17 weeklies. A local nonprofit formed in Maine to buy the chain was falling short of fundraising goals and will use donations to help with the National Trust’s acquisition, the Press Herald reported.

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