Sports journalism is changing — and that’s a good thing for readers

The Channels Sports Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Sarah Maninger, Sports Editor

Sarah Maninger

Over the past two decades, technology has grown drastically and with that has come changes in the world of sports journalism.

News sites have existed for quite some time, yet many still read the sports section in the newspaper every morning. 

The Athletic wants to change that and make its readers, “fall in love with the sports page again.”

Its readership consists of subscribers who love the sports page, but would rather pay $10 a month for a digital subscription than pay for a physical paper.

The venture-capitalist funded company launched its first site in 2016 and is led by Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, both former employees of the fitness app Strava.

The site’s plan, since its inception, was to hire the best sportswriters available and let them write the stories that they want to. 

In 2017, The Athletic saw an opportunity. 

In the summer of that year, both ESPN and Fox Sports decided to shift its focus to strictly digital content, focusing more on video. Fox Sports cut its digital writing staff and ESPN cut much of its writing staff and on-air talent around the same time.

The New York Times reported that ESPN’s layoffs were due to the fact that more and more people were canceling their cable. 

Ken Rosenthal, one of the most well-known baseball writers in the game, joined The Athletic in August of 2017 after being let go from Fox Sports. 

“But at a time when other outlets are cutting back their sports coverage, I don’t suspect The Athletic will be an underdog for long. We are daring to be great, and that is a heck of a place to start,” Rosenthal wrote in his first story for the site titled Why I’m Joining The Athletic 

Rosenthal was one of the first big names to join the site, but not the last. 

Now in its third year, The Athletic is home to writers like Jayson Stark from ESPN, Lindsey Adler from Deadspin, and Andy McCullough from the LA Times. 

In October of 2017, Kevin Draper of the New York Times wrote a story about The Athletic’s business model.

“By the time you finish reading this article, the upstart sports news outlet called The Athletic probably will have hired another well-known sportswriter from your local newspaper,” Draper writes. “In a couple of years, once The Athletic has completed its breakneck expansion, perhaps that newspaper’s sports section will no longer exist.” 

By charging readers about the same as a Netflix subscription, the site can provide high-quality journalism with an ad-free webpage. The Athletic is a company dedicated to providing insight on stories fans care about. Anyone can look up a score, but The Athletic proves that real journalism comes when you ask the questions that can’t be answered on the field. 

It may seem like The Athletic is taking advantage of struggling newspapers, but what else should they be doing? We live in a time when most people do not care about sports. Most people only care about good stories, full of drama and victory.

The Athletic wants that too and it’s proven that if you give a great writer a good idea for a story, anything is possible.