The Dallas papers have about 500k unique print readers every day. Figure about 70pct read the sports page on any given day. Those 350k users are more than the daily unique local users of most if not all teams in our market. More importantly, from a business perspective, because their customer base skews older, they dont use the net as a primary source of data, they have more disposable income to buy tickets and merchandise for themselves, their businesses and their families. In other words, their customers pay our bills.
Mark Cuban writes an interesting analysis about the importance of print news, at least the sports pages, to sports franchises. Some curmudgeon journos will scoff because Mark didn’t do grammar check, but I think both his analysis of the numbers of print readers who don’t/won’t use the web to read about sports AND his critique of the “can’t violate the wall between church and state” e.g. having sports organization pay for the reporting, even if they didn’t get editorial control, are spot on.
If you haven’t seen the site Cuban underwrites, sharesleuth.com, that does investigative journalism, it is worth checking out, though it seems it hasn’t been updated since the announcement of an additional investigative reporting blog called bailoutsleuth.com. Both of the investigative blogs are edited by Chris Carey, who may be too busy to run two investigations.
Cuban got static re: ethics of journalism when he set up sleuthshare to investigate suspect companies stock, which Cuban sells short prior to the reporting going public, making some money on the effort. I thought it was clever, and as long as he is transparent about it, but as Jeff Jarvis points out, it isn’t 100% virtuous. In a time of uncertainty, maybe it is better to experiment freely and tune up one’s best efforts as a way to chart the future of journalism, or at least news organizations that rely on print.