A few weeks ago, I wrote about a big problem facing sports journalism. I wanted to expand on that thought because I think it coincides with another issue with the industry. The situation, as many know, is that budget cuts and layoffs are sweeping across the newspaper industry. That doesn’t bode well for those of us who need to travel, whether by car or by plane, to different cities for coverage of our local sports teams. Making it to different stadiums, spending time in hotels, covering dining costs and everything else involved with a trip is getting costly.
Is it really worth sending one or two reporters hundreds of miles away for usually two days and one night — on the paper’s dime, mind you — just to write a recap for a game that is over and done with in usually two and a half hours?
I thought the same thing. And although my situation was aided by a decision from the University of Pittsburgh to limit vehicle rentals to only those at least 25 years old, I experimented with a new form of sports coverage this year at the Pitt News.
Recently, for two of the last three Pitt men’s basketball away games (at Seton Hall and at South Florida), I contacted the sports editors at the respective student newspapers. I explained the situation, how it was feasible or cost-effective — not to mention hard to find somebody willing to sacrifice a weekend for one game — for us to send writes to the game. I let them know that we were going to cover the game from Pittsburgh, keeping in mind that we’ll see nothing different on television than if in person at the game, and would appreciate it if they could do us just one favor: get us post-game quotes.
You see, that’s the one problem when you don’t go to an away game, or any game for that matter. You don’t get the press conference experience. You don’t get quotes.
But that wasn’t a problem because the guys at the Setonian and the Oracle were able to forward me quotes from after the game. There was a longer delay than if I had been there in person, but spending an extra hour at the office beats out spending an extra hundred dollars (if not more) to send people to the game. As a side note, photographers from each of the newspapers were also generous enough to forward our photo desk with quite a few photos to choose from for our web and print editions.
To me, it was a smart decision and cost-effective. No need to throw away money when you don’t need to.
Next Thursday, Pitt heads to Marquette for an evening game against the Golden Eagles. I plan to do the same thing that I did for the Seton Hall and South Florida games with this one.