Monthly Archives: November 2009

Sports journalism pulling off the saves


Sports journalism - the saviour?

By Myles Edwards and Suhayl Afzal

Newspapers are relying heavily on sports journalism to survive, according to leading journalists and academics.

The latest circulation figures from ABC (an independent auditor on media performance) show that sales of each quality daily and Sunday newspaper have fallen again in the year leading up to October.

Newspapers such as the The Guardian and The Observer have already ceased distribution of bulks (copies that readers can pick up free of charge from hotels and airlines), with the Times and the Sunday Times set to follow suit in January 2010.

The Sunday Times recorded a relatively low fall in circulation compared to that of other national newspapers, with a 3.37 percent drop in the past 12 months. This is partly down to the popularity of its comprehensive sports section.

Jonathan Northcroft, Football Correspondent with the Sunday Times, believes that sport is integral to the future of newspapers.

He said: “There has never been a greater interest in top end sport than there is right now. The Premier League is the most popular in the world, Test Cricket grosses more money than ever before and it’s the same for all the blue riband events such as the Olympics and Wimbledon.”

Barclays Premier League - global audience

Mr Northcroft emphasised the importance of newspapers maintaining their high quality so that readership does not drop any further.

He added: ”Sports journalism is delivering in a sector where people really want to consume content and will pay for exclusive news or to read a brilliantly written opinion piece.”

It could be argued that newspapers should not be overly dependant on sport in this difficult time for the media due to advertising downturns. The high profile demise of Setanta in the UK is evidence of this view.

However, Mark Ogden, Northern Football Correspondent with the Telegraph said: “Newspapers still have the greatest impact and set the agenda.

“If you watch Sky Sports News or listen to Five Live in the morning, their sports bulletins are often led by the big stories in that day’s newspapers.”

Academics also recognise the importance of the sport to the success of print media.

Michael Oriard, Professor of Literature and Culture at Oregon State University said sport both benefits from and contributes to success of newspapers.

He added: “Sport coverage attracts the reader, who in turn looks to daily newspapers to satisfy their growing desire for more and more sport.”

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TV sports report sparks backlash



The summer Olympics are one of a number of events which are on the proposed free-to-air events list


By Suhayl Afzal and Myles Edwards

Proposed changes to the list of free-to-air sporting events have triggered widespread criticism.

Sporting associations, journalists and the public have reacted angrily to the recommendations put to the department of culture, media and sport by an independent panel.

The report suggests that all of the home nations’ football qualifiers be made available on free-to-air TV, along with England’s home Ashes Tests making a return to the list. 

The Open golf championship and Wimbledon tennis championship will also be retained. 

Rugby league’s Challenge Cup final and horseracing’s Epson Derby will be removed from the so-called ‘crown-jewels list’, if the recommendations are adopted by culture secretary Ben Bradshaw.

The controversial recommendations have led to Scottish FA chief executive Gordon Smith voicing his concerns over their potential damaging consequences on the game.

He said: “It seems like a great idea to say your games should be free-to-air.  It sounds like you’re really considering the public, but it would have serious financial repercussions in terms of income that we bring in to the SFA.

“We would have no problem at all provided the free-to-air broadcaster paid the same money as a satellite broadcaster.”

He added: “Maybe the government would make up the shortfall in terms of the deal that we get, in order that we can continue to offer the services we offer to football at grassroots, youth and a professional level.”

England Cricket Board chief Giles Clarke also warned that it could lead to “a decade of decay” for his sport and that the report would have “a disastrous effect on grassroots funding”.

The Independent Advisory Panel was composed of several well known names from the worlds of sports and media, including Colin Jackson, Angus Fraser, Dougie Donnelly and Eamonn Holmes.

The report made no mention of the possibility of terrestrial TV stations bidding the same price as the likes of Sky have done in the past. 

Smith and Clarke are not the only ones who are concerned that this could drastically reduce the funding towards grassroots levels of sport.

Andrew Moir, who has worked as a journalist for Sky and ESPN, said that the recommendations could have both positive and negative consequences.

He said: “It is good from a consumer point of you that all these events will potentially be aired free of charge.  They will be on offer to a far wider audience.

“However, if terrestrial TV stations are able to bid for the events at a smaller price than Sky would have had to, then it could be very damaging to the future of sports. I see no reason why the likes of BBC or ITV couldn’t bid a high amount for the events.”

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has 12 weeks to consider the panel’s findings.



Summer Olympic Games
Cricket’s home Ashes Test matches
Wimbledon Championship
Open golf championship
Football: FIFA World Cup finals, UEFA European Championship finals, FA Cup final (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only), Scottish FA Cup (Scotland), home and away football qualifiers for World Cup and European Championship for their specific UK nations
Rugby Union: Rugby World Cup (full tournament), Wales matches in Six Nations (in Wales only)
The Grand National 

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Council plans don’t play with local residents

By Calum Liddle, Myles Edwards and Constantine Innemee

Edinburgh City Council has defended its proposal to build a play park and community works costing over £275,000 despite local resistance.

Residents of Wardieburn Place East are opposed to the plans due to there being another toddler’s play area just a stones throw away, on Granton Crescent.

Local residents have voiced frustration over the vagueness of the proposals.

Illustrative plans for the public square were posted by a landscape company who have been commissionable to design a “toddler park”.

Norma Carlisle, who lives next to the site, said:  “A play park is not the answer to the problems in our area. We need something to keep the teenagers busy after school.

“We are completely in the dark about whether or not there is even going to be a play park, everyone is saying different things.”

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said: “The £275,000 is not just for the play park, it is for roads and pathway redesign and potentially also for a play park.

“It is only at the proposal stage, it still has to go to consultation where local residents will be able to voice their opinions.”

She added that here have been “no objections since the Community Council and Neighbourhood Partnership endorsed the plans that something will happen in the area”.

Alan Jackson conservative councillor for the area said: “There is obviously confusion as to what stage this is at. My understanding is that these proposals are still be put to the Neighbourhood Partnership.

“Regardless I have other priorities and this amount of money seems far too much to develop these intentions.

“The Forth Ward inhabits 25,000 people. We need to spread funds wisely – I can understand why residents are irritated by this plan. It sounds ridiculous.”

The TaxPayers Alliance (TPA), a watchdog on council spending, also expressed concern over the excessive cost of the project.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive at the TPA said:  “It’s ridiculous that the council have duplicated the same facility in the same area, and that they have not managed to produce quality activities for teenagers as they promised. With so many demands on so few resources, many taxpayers will think that yet another playpen is a wasteful allocation of money that could be put to far better use elsewhere.”

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