New IU National Sports Journalism director: young writers have advantage over veterans in market

Teaching sports journalism at the big U these days would seem to be as valuable as starting classes on how to make a typewriter.

Journalism is a dying industry, we’re told. Read about it in the papers. What’s left of them, that is.

Malcolm Moran is here to say don’t believe everything you read and hear. And listen to this: He contends in many respects the market never has been better for young journalists. So are the opportunities to make an immediate impact.

Moran has seen it up close as the Knight Chair in Sports Journalism and Society at the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism since 2006. And it isn’t just about young equaling cheaper.

“For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate,” Moran said.

In January, Moran will be molding those young writers as the new director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana. He takes over a program launched in 2009 by my old Tribune boss Tim Franklin. Moran said there are 100 students affiliated with the NJSC. Those students recently participated in compiling the hiring report card for the Black Coaches and Administrators Association, yet another example of the opportunity to make an early impact.

Moran obviously has the credentials with distinguished stops at the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and USA Today. He has covered more college bowl games and Final Fours than he cares to count.

Now Moran is making his presence felt on the academic side during a time of great transition for the profession. Here’s my Q/A.

What makes you say 20-somethings have an advantage over 40-somethings?

For the first time in the history of the industry, a 20-something journalist could have an advantage over a 40-something candidate. Graduates as recent as the class of 2007 have told me they feel as though they missed out on having the new technology included in their course work. If a younger candidate can meet all the timeless expectations of the industry, and demonstrate that he or she can tell stories across platforms, the assumption is that the candidate will handle the technology more easily than the more experienced veteran. Media outlets are willing to sacrifice institutional memory – and the higher salaries that comes with that – for more cost-effective, techno-savvy candidates. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying it’s happening.

But what about the job cuts in the market. Aren’t there diminished opportunities?

Yes, there is a distribution problem on the print side, but think about how many outlets that didn’t exist 10 years ago. There are staffers from our program at Penn State who are working at the Big Ten Network. When I started, the Big Ten Network was on the drawing board. was a small core of writers and a lot of wire copy 10-15 years ago. Now look at it.

In the spring of 2009, it seemed like there was no movement. The students who were graduating had a hard time finding jobs. But now we’re seeing more opportunities.

At Penn State, we had a student, Mark Viera, who wound up covering a lot of the Sandusky story for the New York Times. If you opened up the paper, you would assume he was a staff writer. He and Pete Thamel won the APSE award for breaking news. Those kinds of places would rarely use a free lancer 10-15 years ago. Now they do. The opportunity to make a name for yourself now is much greater.

Why would somebody want a sports journalism program as opposed to a regular journalism program?

Part of it is the nature of the industry and the changes we’ve seen. It’s so much more fragmented. Can a journalism major succeed in sports? Of course. However, last year, the students at Penn State covered the men’s Final Four, the BCS game, and the Olympics. If you’re 22 and have that on your resume, you’re in good shape.

We had nine students at the Olympics in London. They produced the digital newsletter daily for the USOC. There were only 15 U.S. media outlets that had more people in London than we did.

You can’t replicate what we did in London in a classroom. When we first got there, they were, ‘OK, what do we do now?’ By the end, they were veterans. It was fun to watch them discover that they can do this.

How is teaching sports journalism different now than 10 years ago?

It’s different than even three or four years ago. I guarantee you the word ‘tweet’ was nowhere to be found in my syllabus. Now I do a class on tweeting and how to use it in an intelligent way. We stress the same standards apply to a 140-character tweet as they do to a 2,000 word story.

Tweeting wasn’t on our radar three years ago, but if you don’t do it now, you’re not doing yourself justice.

What is the key for a young writer to get a job today?

You have to be able to cross every platform. You have to be able to tell your story in more ways than you used to. You can’t show up with a notebook in your pocket and expect to be relevant. You have to market yourself by demonstrating you can work across all the platforms. If you can do that and retain your core values, then you’re marketable.

What are your hopes for NSJC?

I’d like to grow the program and identify people who can make a difference. I have relationships with people they have relationships with. They’ve done a lot in a short period of time. I hope to be able to build upon it.








NBC Sports Network will feel pain of NHL lockout starting tonight; forced to air old DeNiro flick instead of hockey

If you’re a fan of old classic sports movies, you’re going to love the NHL lockout.

Tonight, instead of airing the scheduled hockey doubleheader that would have kicked off the season, NBC Sports Network will show The Fan, starring Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes. Not once, but twice.

Hey, wouldn’t Slap Shot have been more appropriate for what was supposed to be the NHL’s opening night?

In upcoming weeks, expect to see The Natural, Rocky, Rudy, and whatever else NBCSN can dig up in its vault.

The NHL stoppage (Note: Illustraton by Nate Beeler of Columbus Dispatch) couldn’t come at a worse time for NBCSN. After enjoying a terrific run during the Olympics, the network has had a dearth of live programming from Monday through Friday.

That would have changed with hockey starting. NBCSN is supposed to air games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with Wednesday being exclusive. A Sunday night package returns after Jan. 1.

All told, NBC and NBCSN were scheduled to air more than 100 regular-season games. Obviously, that’s not going to be the case with the current labor situation.

How is NBCSN going to fill the void? Here’s the official comment:

“It’s unfortunate that the lockout is causing the cancellation of games from our schedule. In the interim, we have a large amount of quality live-event programming, including soccer, boxing, college hockey and college basketball, that will air in place of NHL games. We look forward to presenting the NHL to its fans as soon as the labor situation is resolved.”

Indeed, you can get your Pierre McGuire fix on Friday night. He and Dave Strader will be on call for the Ice Breaker Tournament in Kansas City Friday and Saturday. It features Notre Dame, Maine, Army and Nebraska-Omaha.

Technically, it’s hockey, but it’s not the same as what was on tap for Friday night: New York Rangers at Los Angeles, with the Stanley Cup banner being raised in the Staples Center.

The post-Olympics period hasn’t been kind to the NBCSN. John Ourand of Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal reports ratings have hit “historic lows.” An August airing of Costas Live attracted only 40,000 viewers. Hard to believe.

NBCSN also failed to land a portion of the new Major League Baseball TV deal. Regardless of the costs, I thought the network needed baseball to boost its profile.

Usually, NBCSN could count on its old pal hockey, beginning in October. But thanks to Gary Bettman, owners and players, that window is closed for now.

While it has some replacement programming in place, it hardly has enough to fill the huge void.

For instance, instead of hockey on Monday, NBCSN will show highlights from the women’s gymastics team competition at the Olympics. On tape, naturally.








Munich Massacre 40 years later: Remembering ground-breaking coverage and profound impact on a boy’s Jewish identity

Forty years ago this week, I was a 12-year-old who was obsessed with sports.

I went to Hebrew school at a Reform synagogue and was somewhat aware that there were people in the world who didn’t like Jews. But that barely registered on my radar compared to watching my White Sox, led by Dick Allen, battle Oakland and Reggie Jackson for first place during the summer of ’72.

Naturally, my sports obsession had me locked in on the Summer Games in Munich. These were the first Olympics where Roone Arledge and ABC really hit on the up-close-and-personal approach.

Those Olympics were huge. Mark Spitz won a bunch of gold medals. Olga Korbut thrilled the world with her feats. Great stuff.

Then on Sept. 5, 1972, I awoke to hear the news from Jim McKay that something terrible had happened in Munich.

You have to remember this was 1972. What’s a Palestinian? Terrorism? Why would anybody want to kill Israeli athletes? It was all new to many of us back then, especially a 12-year-old in the Midwest.

I remember watching ABC all day. It was landmark live coverage of a story unfolding in front of our eyes. No less than Walter Cronkite sent McKay a telegram, congratulating him for showing such grace under pressure.

In his book, The Real McKay, McKay wrote:

“Another thing entered my mind looking back on Sept. 5, 1972: I understood more clearly the tremendous power of television. On that day, the people of the United States were indeed united in their reaction to what happened. It stirred their emotions in a way that only live television reporting can.”

Indeed, the drama played out in a surreal fashion. There were deadlines passed and scenes of police dressed as athletes, carrying guns in preparations for the raid that never happened.

On that day, we were introduced to a Middle East correspondent named Peter Jennings, who was filing reports from inside the athletes’ villages. For all his bombast, Howard Cosell showed his journalist prowess with his updates. We saw images of the Palestinian terrorist with his face covered staring out over the balcony.

We were lifted by an initial report that Israeli athletes were safe at the airport. But it was wrong, as McKay provided the sobering update, saying “All hell has broken loose.”

Finally, there was the news we all feared. McKay uttered his immortal words: “They’re all gone.” It still gives me chills every time I see the video posted above.

When you’re young and you’re experiencing something for the first time, the memories are more vivid. The highs and lows more pronounced.

For me, that day 40 years ago helped me to understand my identity as a Jew, and the grip that Israel has on Jewish people throughout the world. It helped me to understand the deep bond I have with that tiny country and why it can never be broken.

That terrible day eventually showed me the resiliance of the Israeli people. Four years later in 1976, Israel was there in Montreal, taking part in the opening ceremony for those Games.

Then in 2004, Israel had its most memorable Olympic moment in competition. Gal Fridman, a wind surfer, won the country’s first gold medal.

At the 19-minute mark of this video, Fridman stands on the podium, as Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, is played. Chills again, and a few tears. But good tears.

For more retrospective, Jeremy Schaap reports on Outside the Lines Wednesday at 2 p.m.

ESPN Classic will air the documentary Tragedy at Munich throughout the day on Wednesday and Thursday. Make a point of trying to watch these programs.

Time to get real time: NBC needs to solve live issue for next Olympics

A couple of Olympics observations before we go back to real sports:


During a teleconference, I was struck by a comment from NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. He called critics of the network’s coverage “a vocal minority” compared to the “silent majority” who made up the bulk of the high primetime ratings.

Now I’m not so sure on Lazarus’ breakdown when it comes to minority and majority. And he shouldn’t construe silence for total approval.

Regardless, Lazarus has to know that the “vocal minority” likely make up a large part of the bread-and-butter viewers of NBC Sports. With the non-traditional sports viewers (women, kids) departing until the next Olympics, many in the “vocal minority” will remain to watch Sunday Night Football, Notre Dame football, golf, hockey, and other sports on the network.

The “vocal minority” clearly want to watch their sports live. does not fill the void for people who prefer their big screen TV. In this day and age, the core sports viewers demand to see events in real time, especially during the weekend. It’s a reasonable request. Really, do we have to wait six hours to watch Usain Bolt on tape delay in the 100 meters?

The whole dynamic makes NBC Sports’ core viewers frustrated and ultimately angry. Perception is highly important, and Lazarus should want the bread-and-butter feeling good about the network’s sports division.

Frankly, the fire over the live issue only is going to get worse for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It’s already starting. Last night, I got followed on Twitter by @Boycott NBC. Its one post read:

NBC has monopolistic Olympic coverage through 2020. Boycott @NBC and let a competent network cover the Games!

I don’t think it is in NBC Sports’ best interests to take another round of getting hammered over tape-delay coverage in primetime. Too much of the narrative about NBC in London was about the live issue, obscuring many of the good things it did.

Lazarus talked about the need to be “innovative” going forward with its Olympics franchise. I’m not sure what the solution is, but NBC must find a way to deliver live coverage on its many networks along with preserving the primetime shows. Have its cake and eat it too.

It’s time for Lazarus and company to innovate. Time for them to make everyone happy, including the “vocal minority,” which as I said may not be a minority.


One thing I definitely won’t miss is the traditional bashing of NBC’s Olympics coverage. Aside from the live issue, some of the other stuff goes a bit over the top.

Lazarus addressed the criticism in an interview with Richard Deitsch at He said:

As far as being defensive, I would say I am protective of the enterprise and  the people who have put so much into this and take pride in what they are  doing…I wish that [some of the criticism] was more comprehensive with research  or with the understanding of what we are doing and how we are doing it. I got an  email the other day from someone who said we had only shown five sports in the  Olympics. We have shown 30 sports on television and everything else is available  online. Frankly, some of the criticism was very personal and targeted and  attacked people by name. That’s reality but as someone leading this group, any defensiveness I feel is trying to protect people who are so dedicated.

Indeed, this is a massive undertaking involving 2,800 people who worked in London. NBC had to mobilize an army to pull off the 5,000-plus hours of coverage. It is an amazing feat that viewers tend to take for granted.

Was everything perfect, no? But it was pretty damn good.

Safe travels home from London.









NBC wins big in London, but challenges loom for future Olympics

That’s it. You can have your life back. As the ad says, “You’re now free to move around the country.

Now the postmortem begins. Here’s my piece that ran in today’s Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.


With the Olympic flame going out Sunday, it won’t be long before NBC turns its attention to the 2014 Winter Games.

There’s no such thing as an extended break when you have $4.38 billion invested for the rights to the next four Olympics.

NBC will prepare for its trek to Sochi, Russia in 2014 buoyed by ratings and financial success that far exceeded expectations for London. The 17-day extravaganza shows its Olympics franchise is stronger than ever.

Challenges loom: Yet it wasn’t a completely smooth run for the network. Going forward, NBC will have to address tough questions.

The issue of tape delay figures to be a heated topic again, as Sochi is eight hours ahead of New York; nine hours ahead of Chicago; 11 for Los Angeles. Can NBC endure another Olympics ignoring demands for live coverage of marquee events?

The network also has to solve glitches that hampered live streaming of events at Too often, the picture froze at crucial times on various digital devices.

Ultimately, NBC still needs to overcome the perception issues. Despite the high ratings, there was significant criticism over how NBC packages its telecasts of the Olympics. #NBCFail developed a strong following on Twitter.

Lazarus responds: Mark Lazarus, working his first Olympics as NBC Sports chairman, acknowledged the network has heard the reaction that lit up social media throughout the Games.

“Some of it is fair and we are listening,” Lazarus said.

Yet Lazarus believes the critics were “a vocal minority” compared to “a silent majority” of viewers who enjoyed NBC’s coverage. The claim would seem to be supported by a poll conducted last week by the Pew Research Center for the People and Press. It said 76 percent of the 1,005 respondents described the coverage as either excellent or good.

Validated: For NBC and Lazarus, though, the ultimate validation came in the ratings. NBC expected viewership for 2012 to be down by as much as 20 percent from the 2008 Games in Beijing, which had  marquee events live in primetime. Yet despite only taped coverage in primetime this year, NBC averaged 31.5 million viewers per night through Saturday, up 12 percent from Beijing.

NBC also did strong ratings during the day and on its other platforms, including the NBC Sports Network. All told, an estimated 210 million American tuned into its coverage.

“The ratings have been very gratifying,” Lazarus said. “We exceeded everyone’s expectations, including our own.”

Instead of a projected $200 million loss, the network believes it will break even on this year’s Games. With the rights for the next four Olympics relatively flat, NBC has reason to feel good about its big investment.

“The NBC brand is strengthened by the Olympics, and the Olympics are strengthened by NBC,” Lazarus said.

Live issue: Yet NBC came up short in some people’s eyes, especially over the live issue. The network drew considerable ire for not airing high-profile races featuring Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt live during consecutive Sunday afternoon telecasts. Instead, NBC waited nearly six hours to show those events during primetime.

Lazarus is quick to point out that NBC aired more than 30 hours of live coverage daily on its platforms and that every sport was available live on However, he did acknowledge the network will reexamine its stance for 2014.

“We evaluate our business models all the time, and seek the best ways to satisfy the majority of viewers, as well as advertisers, and our affiliate stations,” Lazarus said. “We have to wait for the data from these Games to come in, and then we’ll make our plans accordingly.”

Lazarus also will evaluate the performance of It generated more than 1 billion page views. However, the network took heat for technical problems that arose due to the unprecedented amount of live coverage.

“You can’t simulate the Olympic Games,” Lazarus said. “After the first weekend, in relative terms, we had very few issues. The evidence is in the length and amount of live streaming as the Games went on—the numbers are staggering.”

On to Sochi: Indeed, these Olympics marked a transition of sorts. The impact of the digital component, from social media giving a wider voice for critics to watching a 100-meter race on your cell phone, was significant. Lazarus expects the evolution of new technologies to ramp up even more going into 2014 and beyond.

“We’re going to continue to innovate,” Lazarus said. “What we’re doing today is leaps and bounds ahead of  the way the Olympics were handled in Beijing. We’ve got the Olympic games through 2020, and the one thing we know for sure is that the media  landscape is going to change.”

New York Times’ Longman in center of storm after Jones’ article

Jere Longman is an accomplished writer and a veteran of many Olympics. Yet I’m fairly certain he will have a different set of memories from this year’s Games.

The New York Times reporter has been a target after writing a fairly scathing piece about LoLo Jones. He said she was more hype than substance.

He wrote:

 Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be — vixen, virgin, victim — to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses.

The piece ran last Saturday. However, it exploded on Wednesday when a tearful Jones called the column unfair in a Today Show interview.

I sent Longman an email asking for his reaction to Jones’ reaction. He sent the following reply: “Thanks for writing. I’m going to let the column speak for itself.”

Several of Longman’s colleagues in the sportswriting fraternity stood behind Longman. I received this email from Christine Brennan of USA Today:

“There is no male journalist I know who has done more thoughtful, introspective and respectful work on women in sports than Jere Longman. He brought up some very valid points in his piece on Lolo Jones. It’s because of his time spent covering women and women’s sports issues that he writes with such authority on the subject.”

On Twitter, Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock called the story, “Good stuff.”

Runblogrun said: “A tough but honest piece by Jere Longman not hatchet job, LoLo Jones is everywhere.”

Yet predictably, most people sided with Jones and aimed their Twitter arrows at Longman.

CNN’s Roland Martin tweeted: “I just read Jere Longman’s piece on LoLo Jones in the nytimes. She’s right, it was a nasty, spiteful piece. The Times should be ashamed.”

Darren Rovell, in his first week at ESPN, defended Jones in a piece on

He writes:

If you think her name is cheapened by some strategy to be relevant, to constantly be in the news — most prominently the open talk about her virginity  — then shouldn’t she get some credit for the fact that it worked?

Credit for the fact that in this world of clutter, she got into the heads of marketers who, for whatever reason, wanted to attach their brands to her?

Credit to her creating her own relevancy. Is that cheap? Is that undeserving?

Rovell writes that Jones made you look at her when she appeared on TV. He is right there, but that also plays into Longman’s point.

As a casual fan of this kind of stuff, I was more than a bit surprised to learn Jones wasn’t the favorite in the hurdles. In fact, she received a ton of attention for someone who wasn’t even the top American contender in the event.

Longman makes valid arguments. However, people were turned off by the mean-spirited nature of the piece. He writes:

She has played into the persistent, demeaning notion that women are worthy as athletes only if they have sex appeal. And, too often, the news media have played right along with her.

In 2009, Jones posed nude for ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on the cover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.

If there is a box to check off, Jones has checked it. Except for the small part about actually achieving Olympic success as a hurdler.

Harsh, yes. But this is big leagues. If you put yourself out there, you better be prepared to take some shots, especially if you don’t deliver.

Luckily for Longman, Jones finished fourth Tuesday. It served to validate his story.


Equestrian? Are you kidding when Bolt is running 100 meters? NBC needs to air more live during weekend

Here is one way to get around NBC’s tape-delay approach to the Olympics.

Spend the weekend at a lake that has limited or no Internet access. Then watch NBC’s coverage at night as if it were live like I did.

What? Can’t get away for the weekend like I did. Well, then you’re screwed.

Once again, Twitter was on fire with angry tweets about NBC’s decision not to provide viewers live coverage of Usain Bolt’s bid for gold in the 100. One positive dividend is the entertaining tweets from #NBCdelayed and elsewhere:

@karljohn  Curiosity actually landed three hours ago, but NBC delayed it until after water polo.

@photoarmy1 Hey everyone NBC is showing live video footage of the landing right now….Neil Armstrong is about to step on the surface.

@bgtennisnation (Brad Gilbert)  Another major foot fault on NBC for not showing the 100 live no other major country would do that still shocked they would do that on Sunday

@EvilMikeTomlin “Usain Bolt leads the 100m after 50m, we’ll be back after this commercial break”- NBC

I think it is going to be tough for NBC to put out this fire. During the week, NBC can justify its line maintaining that people are at work and that it is more convenient for them to watch the big events at night.

But not on the weekend. In case you haven’t heard, viewers watch sports on the weekend. Lots of it.

NBC easily could have shown Bolt’s race live to a large audience. It began late in the afternoon on the East Coast in the U.S. The NFL does fairly strong ratings in that time slot with its doubleheader games.

However, instead of seeing the big race, viewers got taped coverage of equestrian. Yeah, I’m sure horse jumping was second choice on everyone’s list.

Meanwhile, Bolt’s race didn’t air until after 11 p.m. ET. By that time, you had to be on Mars not to know the outcome.

NBC definitely needs to reconsider its stance regarding weekend coverage of the Olympics. We’re conditioned to watch live on the weekend.

And don’t get started with the notion that you could have watched the race live via streaming. The picture quality isn’t nearly the same. Also, by late Sunday afternoon, most viewers need a forklift to pry them free of their big, comfy chairs. Why make it inconvenient for them to have to run to a computer?

As I said, I get the tape-delay approach during the week. But not on the weekend.

You need to be live on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, NBC.

And the latest from NBC:

Usain Bolt still leads after 75 meters. Back in a minute.




Olympics deja vu: People whine, people watch; NBC pulls another huge rating for Tuesday night

Buzz Bissinger weighed in on NBC’s tape-delay strategy this morning in his own unique way.

@buzzbissinger But Comcast/NBC doesn’t give shit. Ratings off the roof. All they care about. Fuck the first amendment. Fuck free speech. Fuck Comcast/NBC.

Really, Buzz, tell us how you feel. Don’t hold back.

The complaining continues, and so does NBC pulling in monster numbers for its primetime coverage.

The Twitter Olympics helped deliver NBC another huge number Tuesday night. The network pulled a 24.0 overnight last night; the best overnight for the London Olympics to date, topping the Opening Ceremony by 4%.

It was 4% higher than the Tuesday night rating for Beijing (23.0/37) & 12% higher than Athens (21.5/33).

Keep mind, NBC expected this year’s rating to be off from Beijing, which had the benefit of live coverage in primetime.

Of course, as we all know from the endless angry tweets, NBC is saving all the good stuff for primetime this year. Prior to last night’s coverage, most people knew the women won in gymnastics and that Michael Phelps had a monumental blunder in the 200 butterfly.

Yet people tuned in, thanks in part to Twitter stirring up interest in those events. Viewers wanted to see what actually happened. How did Phelps fail at the finish? How did those little girls win the gold?

People keep complaining, and people keep watching. Story of the Olympics for NBC.



Stop complaining: NBC tape-delay strategy delivers huge ratings

Here are a couple things you need to know: NBC does not operate as a not-for-profit. And a large portion of the massive Olympics audience is made up of non-traditional sports viewers who could care less about watching tape delay in prime time.

So go ahead and complain all you want about NBC saving the best stuff for primetime during the Olympics. While you whine, NBC is laughing all the way to the ratings bank.

Nothing validates NBC’s tape-delay strategy more than the huge ratings for its primetime coverage. The network is breaking all sorts of records.

From NBC:

Through the first three nights of the London Olympics, NBC is averaging 35.8 million viewers, the best through the first weekend for any Summer Olympics in history (since the 1960 Rome Olympics, the first televised Olympics), 1.4 million more than the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (34.4 million), and five million more viewers than 2008 Beijing Olympics (30.6 million).

Keep in mind, NBC expected ratings to be off from Beijing, which did have live coverage of events in primetime. With such a strong start, this could be a highly successful Olympics for the network

NBC received a valuable endorsement for its primetime approach from CBS Corp CEO Leslie Moonves. From Broadcasting & Cable:

“They had no alternative to do that. What are they going to do in primetime? They would have had to show events at 5 o’clock in the morning,” Moonves told B&C. “They don’t happen that way. If you don’t want to know the result, don’t go online. If you want to know the result, go online. But I don’t know what people expected of them and I think they’re doing a very good job of balancing it. I really do.”
Moonves also said that if the Olympics aired on CBS, he would most likely employ the same tape-delay strategy to preserve the primetime viewership.
“I’m sure it took a lot of thought went into it, but I think almost definitely we would have done the same thing,” he said. “I think they’re handling it very well, I really do, I think they’re doing a good job.”

As I wrote last week, according to NBC’s statistics, nearly half of the overall viewership of the Olympics is made up of people who never watch one minute of ESPN during the year. These aren’t typical sports fans who are scanning the various sites looking for the latest news and results in baseball, football, etc.

They are mostly women who tune in to watch the stories and drama of this once-every-four-years phenomenon. They couldn’t tell you Derek Jeter from Russell Westbrook, but they were heartbroken for Jordyn Wieber Sunday.

As long as the ratings keep coming in, NBC has no reason to shift from its strategy. And if you want to complain. Go ahead. It’s an Olympic tradition.




Newspaper Olympics coverage varies: Philly papers cut back; LA Times, USA Today all-in

Special Report:

Staffing the Olympics used to be a no-brainer for major newspapers. The Games are a major worldwide event and you air-mail as many reporters as possible.

I was among 15 staffers for the Chicago Tribune during the 2000 Games in Sydney.

Obviously, times, priorities, and most importantly, economics have changed. It’s no longer automatic to send an army of staffers to cover an Olympics.

In fact, the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer initially decided skip the trip to London. They returned the five credentials issued to the papers. However, at the last minute, the editors decided to send Phil Sheridan.

Said Josh Barnett, executive sports editor for the Philadelphia Daily News on the overall decision: “It’s exclusively a financial decision. It’s a significant commitment (to staff an Olympics). With dwindling resources, you have to make decision of how and where to best use your people. It was a choice we didn’t want to make, but it was something we had to do.”

Barnett added, “I hope this is an anomaly for us as opposed to the norm.”

The St. Paul Pioneer-Press also made the same decision, electing not to send a staffer to London. Meanwhile, the Pioneer-Press’ main competitor, Glen Crevier of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, has two writers and a photographer in London.

Mike Bass, senior editor/sports for the Pioneer-Press, explained:

“There’s the realization that our reporter/columnist would likely make a greater impact covering local teams and issues than at the Olympics. There is a risk in all this, of course. If a major story breaks that involves an athlete from our market, we wouldn’t be there to cover it. Then again, if the story is big enough, the wires would certainly cover it in some way and we could try to supplement it. With the size of staff we have, these are the decisions we have to make all the time.”


On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Los Angeles Times and USA Today. The Times isn’t cutting back. It has 13 staffers in London.

Sports editor Mike James said the Olympics have been a staple of the Times’ sports coverage through the years.

“We think of the Olympics as one of our franchise opportunities,” James said. “It’s a chance for us to broaden our readership. You get a lot of interest from people who don’t normally read our section during the Olympics.”

James added, “I didn’t have to do a sales job (to upper management). They recognize the Olympics are an important thing we do during two-plus weeks.”

USA Today also is applying full-court treatment. Dave Morgan, senior VP for content and editor in chief for the USA Today sports media group, noted the staffing breakdown:

“We have about 48 reporters/editors, about 20 photographers, 11 attached to video and 5 for office administration and support (which includes circulation of our International edition). So 84 in all.”

That’s up from 60 in Beijing, he said:  “With the growth of the USAT Sports Media Group, we now include US Presswire (all-sports photo agency that we bought last year) and are fully coordinated with our Broadcast team on the video side so that’s where the growth is.”

However, even though it is increasing its digital presence, Morgan said the newspaper remains the prime focus.

“We see the newspaper as the sizzle reel for all the work appearing across our digital platforms,” Morgan said. “We will be creating much more content on a daily basis than we can hope to publish in print, and of course we don’t print every day, so the newspaper can’t be our only focus. But it is still our flagship product that best differentiates our content for the audience.”


Those appear to be the extreme cases of high and low. Most papers are somewhere in between, probably more on the low side.

For example, the Chicago Tribune has dropped from 15 staffers in 2000 to 9 in Beijing to 5 (all writers) in London this year.

The reason? “Economics. Like so many,” said Mike Kellams, the Tribune’s associate managing editor for sports.

However, Kellams stressed the Olympics remains a priority to the Tribune.

“I’m also trying to strike the balance between news (not just events) and analysis,” Kellams said. “For the first time, we’ll better exploit Phil Hersh’s Olympic expertise (covering his 16th Olympics) by allowing him to write columns each day from the Games. I expect those to be smart and insightful as we know Phil’s work to be. I also expect it will be the kind of Olympic stories that only someone with his vast experience can first recognize and then tell to our readers.”

Minneapolis’ Crevier said the modern newspaper has to play the role of looking ahead in its Olympic coverage.

“I think it is important for print publications to look ahead to what is happening today,” Crevier said. “With a five-hour time difference, results and game coverage will seem stale in the daily paper the next day.”


When asked about staffing for the games, Mark Jones, director of communications for the USOC, said interest remains strong in coverage for the Olympics.

“No one is immune to the changes that have occurred in the media landscape, but interest and coverage of the Games seems to continue to be a priority,” Jones said.

The difference, he said, is that more sports web sites are staffing the Games than ever before. has a made a big commitment for the first time.

“We continue to see changes in the media landscape and certainly have more and more Internet-only news organizations accredited for the Olympic Games and covering the Games,” Jones said.