Paul Keep recently wrote a column touting the new sports line up at the MLive Group. Now that Paul doesn't have to worry so much about what cartoons the company buys for the printed product he has moved on to big time sports.
Actually I liked Paul Keep as a boss. He pretty much stayed out of the way and news reporters still were able to cover a beat in his days at the Flint Journal. He's a personable guy too. But as a corporate guy he has learned how to spin.
Sports reporters love covering big time sports and it looks like MLive has a good line up of people to cover the local big teams. But with the tremendous downsizing of the sports departments what you have now is that local high school sports are essentially being 'covered' by the coaches of the various teams who directly submit stories into the website.
For Hiner to say that they are covering local sports more now is to be charitable, a joke. But it does not appear that the readers are laughing. But they are calling them on it.
I am told that a recent print Thursday sports section had an AP feature on the front page, five AP stories inside and a full NASCAR page produced elsewhere. The scoreboard page was all wire as well. And it was basically cloned for all regions.
All this while MLive had two reporters in Florida with the Tigers, the Pistons are improving, the Red Wings are making noise in the NHL active and the NFL combine was just held. Where was all that vaunted big time sports coverage in the print product?
What's the big deal about that? It is still the print customers who are bringing in the lions's share of the money for the company (that's the dirty little secret) and yet they are getting screwed on the coverage while those free Internet lurkers are getting the best the company has to offer.
In the meantime, local readers of both print and online will have to be satisfied with a high school coach's take on what happened in the big game Friday night. I've read some of those accounts and they are pathetic.
In my opinion, and to be honest it's probably not worth a lot in the area of sports, readers can go a lot of places to get big time sports news. What they can't find elsewhere is extensive coverage of their local high school, minor league and college teams (except for MSU and U-M which are well covered by MLive). The company, again in my humble opinion, is doing exactly the opposite of what it should to attract local readers.
Or maybe they don't care about local readers, just hits? If that's the name of the game, then maybe they are doing the right thing.