The independent voice of rowing in Britain

React to online print coverage or lose it

Posted by rowingvoice on July 1, 2015

View from the press boxSitting in the press box at Henley Royal (glorious day, nice sharp breeze to offset the hot sun) and I’m asked the question “why wasn’t your Telegraph coverage from this morning’s paper put online?”  The short answer is ‘lack of reaction’ and if you do nothing else after reading this blog, please go online and like/favourite/retweet/comment on something in the national press to do with a minor sport, ideally rowing.  Doesn’t matter which paper, doesn’t matter whether it’s favourable or rude, but do it if you want the papers to continue being interested in the non-lucrative sports, because they’re rapidly dying out.


One problem with the difficult issue of print newspapers is that they’re still trying to work out how to keep a business model going in a world where nobody wants to pay anyone to publish written coverage.  Advertising simply won’t ever pay for everything, yet when people are asked, they do want to retain newspaper-style reporting.  However, the same readers who will shell out £50-odd per month for Sky TV and broadband, who will buy bells and whistles for their racing bikes, triathlon suits, and download apps and music tracks for 99p a time, jib at paying either online or offline to read what a sports (or indeed news or politics) commentator has written about something they follow unless it’s one of those sports where there is loads of money slushing about.


So, a few months ago the Telegraph sports desk had a policy change, and now they have tightened up the online edition so that it doesn’t have everything in.  It will only carry sports stories which are gauged to be of interest.  This makes for a tricky vicious circle for rowing:  they think nobody’s interested, so they won’t publish online, therefore robbing us of the chance to react and show we _are_ interested, therefore reducing the chance that rowing will in future be taken online, let alone in print.


I think I’ve had a couple of dozen pieces online this year for the Telegraph (see this link for most of them), and I can count the total number of comments for all of them combined on one hand.  Doesn’t matter whether they are complimentary or nasty, it’s the reaction which counts when editors are trying to work out what readers want to see.  Page views count for nothing.  Ignore the fact that rowing has been published, and you knock another nail into its nearly-complete coffin.  I’ve blogged about this before, but it doesn’t do any good.


Given that I’ve asked but it looks unlikely the Telegraph will put my morning piece up, I’m going to publish it next.  I’m going to tweet the link, and include the Telegraph twitter handle.  I hope someone reacts, because otherwise they will think we just don’t care.  We’re already down to minimal newspaper rowing coverage – we have to fight to keep the rest, or lose it.




2 Responses to “React to online print coverage or lose it”

  1. Why do online have a different policy from print? Surely if it’s worth commissioning it’s worth putting out on all platforms. Is it because of sponsorship of HRR?

    • No, nothing to do with HRR or indeed with rowing generally. Putting things online still means use of resources (ie people doing the job) and it was considered pointless putting things online that are not normally reacted to, unless it was headline news for the day. In other words, if it wouldn’t make the main Telegraph Sports index page (as things like previews often wouldn’t) then it won’t go online.

      I am hopeful that (because of 10 people collapsing in the heat, alas) my Thursday piece, which I have filed, will go online in some form. If it does, the amount of reaction it gets, regardless of quality, value or direction of opinion, will greatly control my chances of high coverage in the paper for the rest of the week, particularly online. If there are no reactions, or only a few, the “rowing supporters just don’t read our stuff unless it’s Crackers being controversial” attitude will prevail at the desk. If it gets a lot, it will strengthen my claim that we need to publish substantial pieces on Henley each day.

      As a reality check, one Telegraph football story published only an hour or so ago already has 65 comments. Most of those are probably from intemperate trolls, but I’m afraid that it still counts in terms of the readership bothering enough to read to the foot of a page and post something.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: