Why The New York Times’ acquisition of The Athletic could create an existential crisis for local news

Imagine that you’re the editor of a big-city daily newspaper whose reporting staff has been slashed by its corporate owner. You struggle to cover the basics — local politics, business, the arts. But you’ve managed to preserve a fairly robust sports section. After all, a lot of your readers are avid fans. If they no longer needed to come to you for coverage of their favorite teams, then your circulation, already sliding, would fall off a cliff.

Well, your worst nightmare just came true.

Read the rest at GBH News.

3 thoughts on “Why The New York Times’ acquisition of The Athletic could create an existential crisis for local news

  1. pauljbass

    At risk of being the skunk here — I don’t see this as a problem. I don’t see the future of local news involving continuing to prop up an outdated business model, including the everything-in-one supermarket corporate-owned regional daily that covers a little bit of everything in lots of towns or cities. If this site (even if it’s owned by NYT) more effectively dives deeply into local sports, that’s good, not bad — we don’t need to have that subsidize coverage of other local news in a regional corporate-owned daily or even a local one. If those regional dailies don’t go deep enough into local sports, or if readers want only the sports and nothing else about their town, I don’t see a need to force them t pay for something they don’t want. Instead we should give them what they want and need in their community.

    1. I will happily join you in skunkdom. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Times or say, AutoTrader, thanks to The Great Unbundling, digital competitors have hollowed out just about every piece of the local print franchise. To hit the audience numbers it has promised Wall Street, the Times has to get into vertical markets with niche products like everybody else. But, a response based on “giving communities want they want or need?” Unfortunately, that kind of competitive response will take the kind of product and marketing capability local newspapers have never demonstrated…

  2. Stephen R Nelson

    Dan, I don’t think this will hurt the Globe that much. I don’t think there are that many fans who get the Globe only for sports, and I don’t think there are all that many people who follow every Boston team. The problem with The Athletic and say Sports Illustrated is that they cover a lot of sports nationally and internationally that are of no interest to the average sports fan. You’re paying a lot of money for material you will never read. Yes I know that The Athletic has a Boston section, but you are paying for the whole site, correct?

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