Running coverage in the Journal Sentinel

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan 13 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #2273

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    When I first saw the link to this article on the Journal’s website, I thought cool, running is getting coverage. Then, I realized what it was. Your typical fluff article of some midpack runner doing something that almost anyone, with enough disposable cash and free time, could do. Meanwhile, there are people all around the metro and the state who are competing at a high level, doing something very few people are willing to make the commitment to do, not getting a bit of coverage. A couple of contradictory quotes just to show how wonderful this coverage is:

    “He intends to join the elite of the elite: marathon runners who have raced on all seven continents twice.”

    What makes one who does that elite? Most, if not all, of us here could accomplish that if we had enough cash and gave a damn.

    “…and he’d be the first to admit his times aren’t close to world-class.”

    So he’s not close to world class but he’s joining the elite of the elite? Sorry but the term “elite of the elite” should be reserved for runners like Geb and Tergat, not some 3+ hour marathoner who has a lot of extra time and money on his hands.

    And we wonder why Americans don’t consider running to be a true sport and runners to be true athletes? Have we ever considered that it may be because the general media holds arbitrary non-competitive “accomplishments” such as this one in higher regard than the actual athletic accomplishments of those who actually compete at a very high level?

  • #17856

    r-at-work
    Member

    if all you have is lots of money, time, lack of fear and a modicum of talent then you can do that kind of stuff… why do they put that stuff in the paper? because the couch potatoes of the country want to know about it… just like they watch reality TV instead of having a real life themselves, safer to watch…

    in my running group two guys BQed this year, only about half the runners are marathon runners (about 10 of 20)… one guy decided to do the fundraising thing for Boston after he had a bad run at Grandma’s last summer… I wish I was the fourth runner from out group going to Boston… but would I consider fund raising $8,000? … nope

    for me the whole point is to qualify… to merit the entry because of hard work not because I finally make enough money to afford to BUY the privalege… but I’m weird… I have never seen a reality show, need to go to bed so I can get up early to run (or go to work, so I can run after work)…

    I’m just sorry for the people who are too busy watching TV to have a life, too busy to be fit, to busy to know or remember true accomplishments…

    -Rita

  • #17857

    Ed 1
    Member

    Hopefully though this will get other s to look into trying the marathon. All it took was someone telling me about his running marathons and I got into it. Lets hope that this gets more people into teh sport. If I thought that I could only do it if I ran like Geb and Tergat I would never have gotten into it. So there is at least this perspective to think about.

  • #17858

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    I’m all for getting as many people as possible running but kids get into football wanting to be Brett Favre or Tom Brady, not wanting to be Joe Schmuck playing football in the local park. They get into basketball wanting to be Shaq or LeBron, not John Shortfatguy playing in the local 3-on-3 tournament. I could say the same about who the sports fan wants to watch. If we want running to be treated as a sport to be taken seriously, we need the media covering Geb and Tergat or at least the top local runners, not some midpacker. Where are the stories about Matt Thull or Dave Williams? How many locals have even heard of those guys? How many local runners can even tell me who Kris Ihle or Jen Crain are? Why are these people getting shut out of the newspaper in favor of some guy who couldn’t even keep up with them on their easy runs?

    The question is whether we want the sports media to treat running as nothing but a mass participation event or whether we want some coverage as a sport. I want to see it treated as a sport when it is covered in the sports section. Unfortunately, even in the sports section, most of the coverage treats it as a non-competitive mass participation event instead of the great sport it is.

  • #17859

    Zeke
    Member

    It sounds like you need a runner on the newspaper staff. The St. Paul paper has an on staff runner that writes a column every Sunday covering local runners, upcoming events, etc.

    I think it’s hard for a newspaper to cover “fringe” sports correctly if they don’t have someone on staff who participates in that sport.

    I don’t think your Average Joe cares if Matt Thull came in 29th or Jen Crain came in 13th at the National X-C meet. Those that do care get that info long before the newspaper is at their door.

    Believe it or not, Ed has a good point. 😈 If people only saw/read about Geb and Tergat running 4:45 pace for a marathon, they’d probably be too discouraged to even jog to the refrigerator.

    I think triathlon had a similar “problem” for a long time. The only race covered was the Ironman. People thought that’s what a triathlon was. Now with the Olympics and Lifetime Fitness tri coverage on TV, people are realizing there are shorter options and the sport is growing.

    While I don’t agree with the “elite of the elite” language that was used in the article, I really couldn’t care less “If we want running to be treated as a sport to be taken seriously.”

  • #17860

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    Zeke wrote:
    It sounds like you need a runner on the newspaper staff. The St. Paul paper has an on staff runner that writes a column every Sunday covering local runners, upcoming events, etc.

    I think it’s hard for a newspaper to cover “fringe” sports correctly if they don’t have someone on staff who participates in that sport.

    I actually offered to do some freelance coverage of the Olympic Trials for the paper last year since I was going to be in St. Louis anyway. The response I got was along the line of thanks but no thanks, we don’t care about that event. Isn’t it nice to know that they will send a reporter to interview this guy but they won’t cover the Olympic Trials, which had I believe three Wisconsin representatives, even if someone offers to cover it for them for free?

    Zeke wrote:
    Believe it or not, Ed has a good point. 😈 If people only saw/read about Geb and Tergat running 4:45 pace for a marathon, they’d probably be too discouraged to even jog to the refrigerator.

    I’m not saying that some of this coverage shouldn’t happen but it should be balanced coverage. A little of this, a lot of coverage of the actual sport side of running in the sports section. Basically, what you see with any other sport.

    Zeke wrote:
    I think triathlon had a similar “problem” for a long time. The only race covered was the Ironman. People thought that’s what a triathlon was. Now with the Olympics and Lifetime Fitness tri coverage on TV, people are realizing there are shorter options and the sport is growing.

    So covering the Olympics made the triathlon seem more accessible? I don’t see that as the same as covering a midpack marathoner. It would be more equivalent to covering some top level road races in the 10k to half marathon range.

    Zeke wrote:
    While I don’t agree with the “elite of the elite” language that was used in the article, I really couldn’t care less “If we want running to be treated as a sport to be taken seriously.”

    I guess I do care how people view the sport because, in order for the sport to thrive or even survive as a competitive sport in this country, it has to be treated as a competitive sport. The sport as a sport and not just a mass participation event has been dying a slow death in this country and the common perception of what the sport is about can’t be discounted as a factor.

  • #17861

    Zeke
    Member

    I’m not saying that some of this coverage shouldn’t happen but it should be balanced coverage. A little of this, a lot of coverage of the actual sport side of running in the sports section. Basically, what you see with any other sport.

    When you say “any other sport” are you talking football, baseball, basketball or figure skating, gymnastics and boxing? On a weekly basis, the general public doesn’t care if Ryan Hill, Matt Thull or Suzy Favor Hamilton runs a PR or what their training is like. People only care about elite running during the Olympics otherwise, it’s special interest stories all the way.

    So covering the Olympics made the triathlon seem more accessible? I don’t see that as the same as covering a midpack marathoner. It would be more equivalent to covering some top level road races in the 10k to half marathon range.

    Granted it’s not apples to apples, but I was comparing running a 2:04 marathon to completing an Ironman. When people see a triathlon on TV that only takes 2-3 hours, instead of 8-17 hours, it gets them thinking that maybe they can handle a sprint or Olympic distance event. Same with running. When they here that Sally in accounting can run a marathon in all 50 states it gets them thinking that “I can at least run 1.”

    The sport as a sport and not just a mass participation event has been dying a slow death in this country and the common perception of what the sport is about can’t be discounted as a factor.

    I’d lay more of the blame on how Runner’s World’s coverage has changed over the last 25 years than I would whether or not the Milwaukee paper carries an article about Matt Thull or not.

    I believe Malmo has stated that he thinks the US is slowly becoming more competitive now that the internet is used for sharing ideas. You can’t get info on what it takes to be a top runner in a magazine any more, but you can get info on various websites. Let’s hope he’s right.

  • #17862

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    Zeke wrote:
    When you say “any other sport” are you talking football, baseball, basketball or figure skating, gymnastics and boxing? On a weekly basis, the general public doesn’t care if Ryan Hill, Matt Thull or Suzy Favor Hamilton runs a PR or what their training is like. People only care about elite running during the Olympics otherwise, it’s special interest stories all the way.

    Yet people I talk with will ask me about what race just happened or what race is coming up. Are people disinterested or do they not find the coverage from the news sources they are used to using?

    Zeke wrote:
    Granted it’s not apples to apples, but I was comparing running a 2:04 marathon to completing an Ironman. When people see a triathlon on TV that only takes 2-3 hours, instead of 8-17 hours, it gets them thinking that maybe they can handle a sprint or Olympic distance event. Same with running. When they here that Sally in accounting can run a marathon in all 50 states it gets them thinking that “I can at least run 1.”

    This comparison still doesn’t work. The triathlon seemed more accessible because coverage went from 7-8 hour races to 1-2 hour races? So instead of covering a 2 hour running event, cover a 1 hour or 15-30 minute running event. That would be comparing apples to apples. What you have is still comparing apples to oranges.

    Zeke wrote:
    I’d lay more of the blame on how Runner’s World’s coverage has changed over the last 25 years than I would whether or not the Milwaukee paper carries an article about Matt Thull or not.

    No, the Journal alone isn’t turning the tide but it is a reflection of what is going on around the nation. Yes, it’s tough to find training advice for any level of actually competitive runner in magazines but it’s also hard to pick up a newspaper nearly anywhere in the country and find coverage of competitive running. People have to be exposed to competitive running before they become competitive runners.

    Zeke wrote:
    I believe Malmo has stated that he thinks the US is slowly becoming more competitive now that the internet is used for sharing ideas. You can’t get info on what it takes to be a top runner in a magazine any more, but you can get info on various websites. Let’s hope he’s right.

    I do agree that the Internet is turning the tide a bit. Not just because there are websites that share information on how to train to run competitively but also because there are websites that, at least to some extent, increase the exposure of competitive running. Of course, the Internet is also increasing the divide because anyone can get a website and portray themselves as experts in running, then tell people how running twice a week for 15 minutes is the key to success.

  • #17863

    r-at-work
    Member

    I see at least two issues here… news about those at the top of the sport and opening up the sport to the average person…

    the comments about the internet vs newspapers and magazines say several things… the internet has made news instantly available and that gives people who really want to know fast answers and no need to wait for the paper or a magazine…that’s the good news…

    the bad news is that unless WE as Americans have a serious challenger for a WR (in an Olympic year) the papers probably won’t print it… here in the DC area they will run 3-5 pages of football even during the off season but not mention any running events… I have to say they do give the MCM lots of coverage, but again, WAY too many back-of-the-pack human interest stories…and they did a GREAT job on the men’s Olympic trials marathon as there wer several guys in this area competing… but nothing on the women even though we did have at least two competitors from this area… newspapers want stories the average person will be interested in… very few average people want to know how HARD these atheletes work to get there…

    I could also whine about the Olympic Horsebackriding events (my former passion)… another marginal sport… I have always been appalled that they took “artsy” shots of the horses though tall weeds and didn’t bother to find a commentator who knew what was going on… can you imagine the uproar if they only showed out of focus ‘artsy’ shots of home run ball or the basketball for the winning shot arching through the air during the playoffs and siad the STUPID things that get said for other marginal sports… “and now we’ll cut to the interview with the guy who’s son plays on the 8-12 year team with the same jersey colors” and some such nonsense…(sorry for ranting)

    running is marginal except if there is a Olympic medal on the line…

    the second point I see is that some people hope that the human interest stories and minimal coverage will help bring out sport to the average person, as the tri has done for the IM… again like horsebackriding this is a double edged sword… do you REALLY want the average person trying out this stuff with little or no training? think of all the charity groups that train “marathon runners” in 16 weeks, if they don’t get injured… then you get into the whole thing about “my medal for walking the marathon is just as precious as the guy who won” mentality… I’m kind of a snob… I think it’s GREAT that this sport has gotten people off their couches, but if they run(or walk, or run/walk) one marathon I doubt they will go on to care who wins this year’s Boston, Chicago or NY…

    I think that it is more important to look to how we present this to kids and get them involved… off their couches and into ANY sport… but running is the basis for conditioning in so many sports, and it’s treated as a punishment all the time… at one of my kid’s cross country meet a kid had a shirt that said “our sport is your sports punshiment”… and at least one kid on his team said he dropped out of football and took up CC so he could USE the conditioning he got doing laps instead of sitting on the bench…

    but the big money and the press covereage go to football, basketball, baseball and NASCAR…don’t get me started on that… oil shortage? I just hope I live long enough to see NASCAR have to go to solar powered cars…

  • #17864

    Zeke
    Member

    Yet people I talk with will ask me about what race just happened or what race is coming up. Are people disinterested or do they not find the coverage from the news sources they are used to using?

    If these people are non-runners, they’re probably just trying to make conversation with you because they know you run.

    This comparison still doesn’t work. The triathlon seemed more accessible because coverage went from 7-8 hour races to 1-2 hour races? So instead of covering a 2 hour running event, cover a 1 hour or 15-30 minute running event. That would be comparing apples to apples. What you have is still comparing apples to oranges.

    I’m not talking about the length of coverage. I’m talking about whether people see the event as doable or not. You have to get people involved first, then you can worry about them being competitive or not.

    …it’s also hard to pick up a newspaper nearly anywhere in the country and find coverage of competitive running.

    Again, I think the St. Paul paper does a good job, at least on the weekends. Maybe it helps that Team USA Minnesota is in town. It’s easy for the writer to update us on what they’re doing. He does have his fluff stories too, but he always tries to include some bullet points on what the top local-level and national-level runners are doing. It probably helps too that the writer also covers college hockey.

    It sounds like the Milwaukee paper can use some improvements. Do they have any type of outdoor/recreational section in the Sunday paper? That’s what the St. Paul paper does. It covers fishing, hunting, camping, plus the running column, which is sometimes substituted for articles on snow shoeing, x-c skiing, adventure racing, biking, tris, etc. depending on the season. I guess all you can do is complain to the paper and let them know you want some changes.

    Of course, the Internet is also increasing the divide because anyone can get a website and portray themselves as experts in running, then tell people how running twice a week for 15 minutes is the key to success.

    Yea, but hopefully people are smart enough to distinguish between the competitive info and the fitness info and then pick the route that helps them with their goals.

  • #17865

    Ryan
    Keymaster
    Zeke wrote:
    If these people are non-runners, they’re probably just trying to make conversation with you because they know you run.

    Possible but the people who usually ask are people who I already share other more mainsteam common interests with. If they wanted to make conversation, there would be other topics available.

    Zeke wrote:
    I’m not talking about the length of coverage. I’m talking about whether people see the event as doable or not. You have to get people involved first, then you can worry about them being competitive or not.

    I’m not sure you’re understanding my point. You say the Ironman seemed impossible to them because it was a 7-8 hour event but the shorter events, even though the coverage was still of elites, made it seem more accessible. My answer to that is, if the marathon seems impossible, do the same thing and show shorter races. This is an apples to apples comparison. Focusing coverage on midpack marathoners would only be comparable to focusing tri coverage on the midpack Ironman participants.

    Zeke wrote:
    Again, I think the St. Paul paper does a good job, at least on the weekends. Maybe it helps that Team USA Minnesota is in town. It’s easy for the writer to update us on what they’re doing. He does have his fluff stories too, but he always tries to include some bullet points on what the top local-level and national-level runners are doing.

    Again, I would say that, from my observations, the Milwaukee paper seems to be more of a reflection of what is going on around the nation in general than the St. Paul paper. Of course, there are exceptions. Last I picked it up, USA Today had pretty nice coverage of running. Of course, the Boulder newspaper has some good coverage. However, those papers that have the coverage are few and far between.

    Zeke wrote:
    It sounds like the Milwaukee paper can use some improvements. Do they have any type of outdoor/recreational section in the Sunday paper? That’s what the St. Paul paper does. It covers fishing, hunting, camping, plus the running column, which is sometimes substituted for articles on snow shoeing, x-c skiing, adventure racing, biking, tris, etc. depending on the season. I guess all you can do is complain to the paper and let them know you want some changes.

    Unfortunately, all I can do is complain, which I have done several times. As I stated, there is occasionally good coverage. Al’s Run is covered pretty well and Lakefront gets a mention. When DeHaven and Coogan did so well in Boston, there was a small column on them I remember. However, that’s two events per year and one small column when two guys from Madison finish in the top 20 at Boston. It’s not as bad as it could be but it’s not much balance.

    Zeke wrote:
    Yea, but hopefully people are smart enough to distinguish between the competitive info and the fitness info and then pick the route that helps them with their goals.

    Hopefully so. I know one person often told me when I was going to RW that I have to have faith that people can see through the sales pitches of the snake oil salesmen. I guess I’ve just encountered too many people who have actually been brainwashed into believing running 3 times a week will actually lead to better performances than running 7+ times a week and I try too hard at times to counter that and want too much at times for that talk to be exposed for what it really is.

  • #17866

    ccbrian4
    Member

    The Washington Post actually does quite a good job of covering the local running scene. They cover many local races and instead of covering the midpack they interview the winners. For example, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38328-2005Feb19.html.

    Sure there’s the human interest strories about the really big races (MCM), but the Post also ran an article about the Hanson’s program before MCM because a few of their runners were competing.

  • #17867

    Zeke
    Member

    I guess I’ve just encountered too many people who have actually been brainwashed into believing running 3 times a week will actually lead to better performances than running 7+ times a week and I try too hard at times to counter that and want too much at times for that talk to be exposed for what it really is.

    When these people race and continue to finish in the mid to back of the pack, they’ll figure out that there’s a better way to train. If not, then I question whether or not they really want to improve. Maybe they talk like they want to, but really they’re content with their performance.

  • #17868

    Zeke
    Member

    Just to give you a feel of what I’ve been talking about here’s one of the Pioneer Press’ latest articles. Hopefully you don’t have to register to view it.

    http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/sports/columnists/bruce_brothers/10693896.htm

  • #17869

    Ryan
    Keymaster

    Sorry Rita, I managed to miss your post earlier but I thought there were a couple of interesting points you raised.

    r-at-work wrote:
    the comments about the internet vs newspapers and magazines say several things… the internet has made news instantly available and that gives people who really want to know fast answers and no need to wait for the paper or a magazine…that’s the good news…

    Fortunately, I think it also makes news more accessible for people who are casual fans. You can actually get quality T&F and distance running articles and results at ESPN.com. This surprised me at first but now ESPN.com is actually one of the sources I regularly check.

    r-at-work wrote:
    the second point I see is that some people hope that the human interest stories and minimal coverage will help bring out sport to the average person, as the tri has done for the IM… again like horsebackriding this is a double edged sword… do you REALLY want the average person trying out this stuff with little or no training? think of all the charity groups that train “marathon runners” in 16 weeks, if they don’t get injured… then you get into the whole thing about “my medal for walking the marathon is just as precious as the guy who won” mentality… I’m kind of a snob… I think it’s GREAT that this sport has gotten people off their couches, but if they run(or walk, or run/walk) one marathon I doubt they will go on to care who wins this year’s Boston, Chicago or NY…

    This is actually a topic that I have taken heat on in the past but I couldn’t agree with you more. In fact, I’ll take it another step. Not only do you get people who are not interested in the sport and some who even don’t accept that running is a sport and the marathon is a race (the “my medal for walking the marathon is just as precious as the guy who won” people) but, with these people going from couch to marathon so quickly, many develop a poor attitude toward running in general because they were hurting every step of the way. Is it any wonder why you were hurting every step of the way? You took a progression that should take several years and condensed it into 3-6 months.

    Personally, I don’t want the average person sitting on their couch to think a marathon is readily accessible. I want them to think that it is very difficult and is not something they can just go out and do with little or no preparation because that’s the fact of what it is. I would like them to think running is readily accessible but, for beginners, that’s what 5k-10k events are for if they need a road race to run in to get started.

  • #17870

    GTF
    Member

    Like it or not, the newspaper’s duty, in order to draw the greatest readership for its advertisers, is to report that which its greatest readership wants to see. For the typical readership, that may mean tales of personal conquest that do not necessarily translate to exposure for the competitive side of the sport. However, it is usually what the greatest number of readers would, at least in theory, want to see. Newspapers do not do this blindly, they follow demographic data and conduct polls to find out what their readership is likely to prefer. This will lead to underreporting in some areas (like, perhaps, world events) in favor of covering that which may seem extraordinarily trivial. There is also, due to costs, simply a finite space for non-ad copy, so to put a story on competitive running in – even if it is supplied for free – means leaving something else out. Priority, again, is established by what the editors believe to best fit the interests of their chief demographics.

    From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/:

    Mixed Zone: Running around the world

    by Sarah Edworthy

    (Filed: 26/02/2005)

    Spotlight

    Icebergs, penguins, seals and whales. Not a classic sporting backdrop, but Kate Charles intends to appreciate the sights as she becomes the first British woman to complete a marathon on all seven continents. Today the 31-year-old ex-finance officer based in Hove, Sussex, runs the final leg of her remarkable challenge on King George Island in Antarctica.

    To reach the venue, she has island-hopped from New Zealand via Tahiti and the Easter Islands. “Not ideal for training,” she laughs from a southern-hemisphere phone box. “I’ve been cycling up volcanoes five hours a day. I can’t prepare for the cold, just worked on stamina.”

    Arriving by ice breaker emphasises her lonely quest. Unpredictable weather once forced this race to be run over 400 laps of the ship’s deck, but, whatever the conditions, Charles is not relishing the finishing straight: “I’m extremely sad at the prospect. The highs and lows have been part of my life for three years. I will be very emotional when it’s over, I’m so proud of it.”

    Charles’s adventure began as a way of combatting chronic depression. A line in The Daily Telegraph about a marathon run in the Lewa game reserve in Kenya pierced her cloud of inertia. Six races on, her soul-restoring adventure nears its end.

    Clocking up miles has also raised £2,000 for children’s hospice Demelza House, Kent, and stocked her memory bank. In Chile she ran past sea lions basking on rocks with pelicans. The Midnight Sun Marathon, Norway, came with no midnight sun.

    The toughest race was in Death Valley, California, named after goldseekers who perished, and run with an injury incurred after falling down a badger set. The Kenyan experience remains the most special. Grazing giraffes, herds of zebra, fresh rhino poo, every minute was a marvel.

    Next? “I’ve got my eye on the North Pole marathon in April…I need to keep myself motivated. I don’t want an anti-climax.”

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