Clay Travis, as usual, hit the mark with today’s “2011 Belonged to Twitter. So Does The Future of Sports Media.”
There’s not much to argue with, but there is an asterisk that must be added. Twitter doesn’t have much to offer rural-based consumers, at least not yet, and I’m not sure when it will.
As recently as four months ago, a European communications organization recommended sticking with 2G technology – that’s 2G – because of the problems in upgrading to 3G in rural areas. Studies in the U.S. have come to similar conclusions. Also factor in rural America’s slow pace in general when moving digital, and what you’re left with, in regard to Twitter, is something that large pockets of this country simply aren’t ready for.
Small, more family-owned papers, the kind found in more rural areas, are considered more likely to thrive and survive in the current media climate. Like Travis, I seek out individual writers, not specific publications. This is especially true in competitive markets, such as for professional sports leagues or the area of Eastern Iowa in which I live, which is serviced by three daily newspapers and a Patch site. My wife’s hometown is different. It’s affluent but isolated, nearly 45 minutes from Des Moines. Their weekly publication is the only game in town. The writers aren’t particularly good, but there is no alternative. Loyalty isn’t so much earned from production quality but from a lack of alternatives. Targeting individual writers isn’t an option.
Lastly, I’ve seen first-hand what happens when a news organization tries to push technology on a community that isn’t ready. The community feels alienated and goes elsewhere.
Travis wasn’t wrong. Not at all. It was worth clarifying, however, that it’s going to be a long, long time before “the future of sports media” becomes a broadly applicable term. It’s already the future of sports media in large markets and among readers/consumers/fans of national interests (sports, federal politics, etc.), but in terms of the hyperlocal, and particularly in hyperlocal rural markets, it’s important to remember there are millions of Americans who get their news in ways I just don’t want to anymore.
Reach Dave on Twitter @daveschwartz.