Newspapers Form National Sports Content-Sharing Alliance

By: Joe Strupp At least 49 daily newspapers, most with circulations of 100,000 or higher, have joined a new national sports content-sharing alliance that plans to begin trading stories and columns in September, according to organizers.

Among the newspapers that have signed on to the arrangement are The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"It will have a Web site base where newspapers put their budgets, file stories and they will be made available to others," said Roy Hewitt, sports editor of The Plain Dealer. "You can put anything from it you want into [your] paper, you can edit as you would any other stories."

Hewitt said the only restrictions are that stories be reprinted with the proper bylines and credit and any online use include just a few paragraphs and a link back to the home newspaper's site.

"I think it will work more on columns and features than on game stories," said Hewitt. "A lot of it will be an enhancement of papers' Web sites."

The approach is modeled on the Ohio News Organization, which the Plain Dealer and seven other Ohio dailies created last year. That group has a similar restricted Web site to which each paper contributes and takes news and sports stories.

The national sports model was first discussed in February at a meeting of the Associated Press Sports Editors, according to Glen Crevier, assistant managing editor/sports of the Star Tribune. At the APSE convention in June, it became a more formal proposal. Crevier, Hewitt and Journal Constitution Deputy Sports Editor Tim Ellerbee left that meeting with plans to begin contacting sports editors and asking them to join.

At the moment, they say 49 newspapers have signed on, with hope that more will follow. "So many papers are no longer covering the big events, and some wire coverage is abysmal," said Crevier. "It is a way to give our sports supplemental copy."

Crevier noted that this fall will be the first year he does not send anyone to the World Series if the local Minnesota Twins are not in it: "We have not covered the NHL or NBA finals for a couple of years now."

Sports content sharing is not new among newspapers in recent years. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., began this summer to use baseball game stories from the Daily News of New York, while the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News have an arrangement in which one paper covers the Texas Rangers and the other covers the NHL Dallas Stars and NBA Dallas Mavericks.

Tribune Co. recently began consolidating some coverage of national sports beats within its newspaper chain, particularly between the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Garry Howard, APSE president and assistant managing editor/sports for the Journal Sentinel, said the new alliance approach makes sense given these belt-tightening times: "If there is an opportunity for one newspaper to help the other, we can do it."

Hewitt said no date has been set to launch the alliance, but early or mid-September is the target: "We feel like it is time to move forward."


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