A few weeks ago, we asked Bob Kravitz of the IndyStar this question:
Why should every Indy sports fan read it (the Star) first thing in the morning?
This was his answer:
Why read the Star? Well, what else are you going to read?
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of options. I wish we had two
newspapers, even three. I wish we had a bunch of columnists, like we
did in Denver. I wish there was more to choose from, more voices, more
Lots of nonsense
has happened since then, but I thought it would be a revealing look at
the change in media coverage to analyze all the news coming out of the
Colts mini-camp this weekend in an effort to get a snap shot who has the best
on-line Colts coverage. 18to88 is not, and has never claimed to be, a news gathering source. We are here to interpret the stories only. We get our information from a variety of sources, and most of them we then pass along in the Links portion of each post. The reader can come to 18to88 to get a summary of all the coverage, and follow the good ones himself. We read stuff so you don’t have to.
In considering the coverage, remember that this is not a regular season event
like a football game, but an open to the public weekend practice
session. What follows is a break down of stories and quotes from the
weekend and who had them. The goal is to determine what are the best
online sources of news and quotes for Colts fans, with the caveat that in Kuharsky’s case, he is not always present in Indianapolis, but was this weekend. In the case of Colts.com, the function is slightly different, and was most useful for providing edited clips from press conferences, giving the fans a taste of what the press saw. Most of their stories were written by Oehser, thus occasionally having him ‘work against himself’.
Essentially, there were 20 different stories or ‘quote ideas’ that I tracked from the weekend. Not all stories were of equal importance and weight, which I will discuss later. The four sources of information I followed were Paul Kuharsky from ESPN, John Oehser from Indyfootballreport.com, the Indy Star (which was represented by Mike Chappell), and Colts.com. We did not fully grade Stampede Blue, because they are also a ‘blog’ rather than a news source, but it bears noting that they did score in two different categories, thanks to picking up on a Wall Street Journal note about Billy Cundiff getting a tryout (a story not mentioned by any of the other four), and a fan report on the camp.
The results (click to see a story by story scoreboard):
Kuharsky-Covered 13 of 20 stories, scored 6 “BESTS”, 1 exclusive
Oehser-Covered 15 of 20 stories, 1 “Next Day”, scored 7 “BESTS”, 1 exclusive
Star-Covered 15 of 20 stories, 11 “Next Day”, 1 “Two Days Later”, scored 3 “BESTS”, 1 exclusive
Colts.com-Covered 9 of 20 stories, scored 1 “BEST”, 1 exclusive
As for the biggest stories of the weekend, Chappell gets the check mark for his work on the Moore/Mudd saga. Kuharksy gets nods for his coverage of Lilja and Saturday’s workout. Oehser had the best write up on Sunday.
So what conclusions can we draw from this?
1. Colts fans have options. It’s totally artificial to treat this like a competition, because it isn’t, but it’s important to note that there are at least four solid sources of daily updates about the Colts. Bob Kravitz could not have been more wrong.
2. ESPN is a force, when they want to be. Kuharsky does great stuff whenever he’s in town. His coverage of Saturday’s workout was one of the highlights of the weekend. It’s a shame he has to split time between four cities. He’s great and should be a staple of Colts fans.
3. The blog is an inherently better tool than the paper. The Star had good coverage, but was hurt by the immediacy and freedom afforded to the two bloggers. Kuharsky and Oehser were able to provide insight and commentary, not just information. In addition, while the Star tied with Oehser for the most stories covered, more than half were not available on-line until the following morning. The Star needs to do three things: 1. Unchain Chappell and let him tell us what he thinks. 2. Keep paying Phil B. Wilson. Phil B’s presence at training camp and his daily blog updates will dramatically boost the Star’s ability to compete with Oehser. 3. Get stories up faster.
4. If all a Colts fan does is read the Star, he or she will be well informed. Chappell did a great job this weekend, and covered as many of the major stories and quotes as anyone. He also broke the biggest story of the weekend (Moore/Mudd to return in largely the same roles in August). His long form articles were excellent reads, and presented many of the quotes and stories in a more interesting package than the blogs did. It was a good weekend for him, for sure.
The biggest problem with the Star is that it can’t get out of its own way. This weekend the COLTS were practicing. They are the biggest game in town. The Star? They had their intrepid columnist writing about the how the Indiana Fever are dying. WTF? A WNBA piece? When the Colts are actually, you know, doing something? Worse yet, it’s a piece about how sad it is that the Fever are all but done. It’s not even a funny, mock the WNBA deal. That’s weak coverage and doesn’t give the consumer what he (or she…more female Colts fans than Fever fans by a WIIIIDE margin) want. The Fever are dying, and if that doesn’t scream “NO ONE CARES!”, I don’t know what does.
5. Colts.com is different than the other sources, but still useful. Being able to watch videos of Manning, Freeney, Caldwell, and Wayne was terrific, and allows the fan to get many of the same quotes directly from the lips of the star who uttered them.
Finally, one last conclusion:
Most of us have known for some time that John “Johnny O” Oehser is a major boon to the coverage of the Colts. This week sealed it. John covered the highest percentage of stories. He covered the most stories on the same day they happened. He garnered our “BEST” rating more often than any of the other three. In fact, he was also responsible for some of the Colts.com material as well, or he would have destroyed the competition with his own blog.
Indyfootballreport is the best single source for Colts news. At least it was this weekend. That result surprises no one.
Via Kuharsky, this list will look very stupid in a year. Actually, it looks pretty stupid now. I’m cool with #32, but there ain’t no way there are 15 coaches worse than Mad Jack. The Caldwell thing is ignorant, but he’s a rookie, and in this league you have to earn respect on the field.
Via Oehser, a Scout.com sighting! I’d link to them more often, but I’m not going to pay for the material. This is a great, and free, write up, however.