Arrogance vs. Confidence

By Beacon Staff

Last week, Myers Reece talked about his concern regarding the potential downfall of local sports coverage, speaking specifically of the success of ESPNChicago.com vs. the Chicago Tribune and big picture-wise about ESPN’s announcement about an upcoming expansion of local sports coverage in Dallas, LA and New York.

Regardless of what we think, if ESPNChicago.com was wrong, they wouldn’t be #1 in Chicago today.

No matter how awful you might think ESPN is for doing this, it happened for one reason: The Trib let it happen.

Yep. They let it happen. The Beacon is here for much the same reason but now we too are on the fence. More on that shortly.

One interesting thing buried in the NYTimes coverage is that the growth of the Chicago Tribune’s sports site slowed rather than reversing and ESPNChicago.com is considered to be taking customers from the growth that the Trib is no longer seeing.

I wonder what you’d need to do to make that happen to the leader’s growth in your market… but I digress.

Myers’ reference to Dan Shanoff’s blog (Shanoff worked for ESPN) was a particularly strong illustration because it took Shanoff rather than the NYT to illustrate why ESPN’s play would likely work in LA, much less why it works anywhere. That’s confidence.

Meanwhile, LA Times associate editor Randy Harvey simply noted that while ESPN had resources, they couldn’t “replicate what we do”. Uh Randy, they just did so in Chicago, except their offering is arguably better according to more than half a million fans of Chicago sports teams. That’s arrogance.


If ESPN wanted to create ESPNCFalls.com tomorrow, they could easily do so.

Barber Randy Bocksnick and I cover Columbia Falls hoops and football along with the HHN’s Joe Sova and Chris Peterson. Others show up and shoot now and then, but this is the group consistently going home with 300-500 shots per game, plus stories.

Randy’s been shooting CFalls sports for 45 years. He knows more about CTown sports than Skip Bayless or Chris Berman ever will. Plus he’s a barber, so you know he can talk the talk.

Add play by play man Gasche (who doubles as a CFHS teacher / X-C coach when he isn’t announcing games) and use Randy as the color man and you’re rolling.

In short order, ESPN has local, knowledgeable people covering CFalls teams. Add their back office infrastructure, technology, influence and reach, plus all the tools from ESPNmobile. Now you’re driving sports news into the hands of all those Flathead folks with mobile devices, much less everyone else.

Suddenly, the local papers’ existing coverage seems a little boring, even that of the lil’ ol’ Beacon.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You could assemble similar coverage for any other school/town in the area. Any local news organization could. No, they won’t have the reach and the technology infrastructure of an ESPN, but they don’t need it because the audience is much smaller.

Of course, the economics of doing this in the Flathead don’t appear to make a lot of sense for ESPN, but that doesn’t matter for the sake of discussion. The point is that we could do it if ESPN called.

To think that ESPN can’t do the same in LA, Dallas and New York is foolish.

It’s NEWSpaper, not newsPAPER.

Now you see why Myers is concerned.

ESPN became what they are by doing what no one else would. Competition 101. No doubt, the big networks laughed when they saw two a.m. broomball coverage 25 years ago.

I’m guessing they aren’t laughing any more. So how do we make it better before ESPN arrives?

Report it tonight, instead of tomorrow. More photos. Video. You don’t stop being a NEWSpaper because you show video.

Let me get all that on the go, so I can keep up no matter where I live or where my travels take me. The world is going mobile. Show up or else. I shouldn’t have to be on my front porch to keep up with what’s happening.

When it comes to the news, deliver more, do it faster, do it better and most importantly, do what normal people won’t do.

Speaking of your business, how are you pushing what’s normal?

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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