Do you still read them? Slow death of box scores in newspapers

Baseball box scoreAn excerpt from my latest column for Poynter.

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The box score has been a staple of newspapers since the 1800s. Yet like everything else in the ever changing world of media, its future is precarious in print editions, as sports editors wrestle with diminishing space and resources. They also wonder if running the box scores is essential given their instant availability on a multitude of websites.

The Charlotte Observer, along with sister papers the Raleigh News & Observer and the Rock Hill Herald, took the step and eliminated the baseball scores from their print editions this year. Mike Persinger, the sports editor of the Charlotte Observer, said it was a move that had been discussed for the last 6 or 7 years.

“We always came away thinking, ‘It’s too soon,’” Persinger said.

However, budget cutbacks forced the papers to reconsider the decision this year. Persinger said the baseball box score page (which the three papers share) took a staffer four hours (a half-shift) to produce. The sports editors felt those resources could be used elsewhere.

“It was not an easy decision, but in some ways it was,” Persinger said. “Why were we running something that is widely available elsewhere? For most of our younger readers, if they care about the Red Sox, or want the latest on their fantasy team, they are going to get those statistics and box scores elsewhere and get them faster than they would in the newspaper.”

 

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