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Nats Fans vs. The Post's Coverage



One sure rule for newspaper folks is never to engage your anonymous Internet critics, and never to appear defensive. I'm about to break both rules, spectacularly.

(Because this is long, I'd encourage you to scroll down, at which point you'll find my conclusion: Caps fans have the greatest claim to under coverage in The Post's Sports section, at least among the five major teams, and Nats fans have the worst claim.)

In the last few days, long-simmering anger and disgust at The Post's Nationals coverage has bubbled up in several places, notably the Nationals Journal comments section, notably with stuff like this:


This blame is laid squarely at the feet of Emilio Garcia-Ruiz and the suits at 1150 15th Street, NW who think that anybody is qualified to cover what the paper does not consider to be a major sport. These are the same people who think three writers should cover a football team that plays a regular season one-tenth as long as the Nationals. These are the same decision makers who have two writers covering an NBA team that plays half the number of regular season games than do the Nationals....These are the people who don't get it.

And so on. Fans have also floated the idea of boycotting The Post's Nats coverage in favor of The Times's Nats coverage, in order to send a message. Ok. We hear you, or at least I do, anyhow.

I don't speak for The Post or Emilio Garcia-Ruiz. I don't speak for Chico Harlan or Barry Svrluga. I realize that I will never convince the above commenter that he/she is wrong. I have nothing against The Times, and encourage all our readers to check out the competition daily. (Main Nats page here, blog here.) And I encourage everyone to criticize us as often as they want, anonymously and by their real names, in any available forum.

Still, I just feel like certain facts are being overlooked due to anger at the way things have gone in general for this baseball franchise. My brief, personally motivated attempt to clear some things up:

1) Why does The Post devote so many more resources to covering other professional teams and leagues besides the Nats and MLB?

In 2005 The Post spent considerably more travel dollars covering the Nats than the Redskins, which is by far our biggest meal ticket. In 2006, when the Redskins made the playoffs, The Post again spent more travel dollars covering the Nats. In 2007, The Post spent virtually the same amount covering the two teams. According to 2008 projections, The Post will spend more travel money covering the Nats and MLB (not including the Orioles) than on any other non-Olympic sport, and by a considerable margin. We are invested in this sport, and in this team.


2) Why does The Post devote so much more space to other professional teams and leagues besides the Nats and MLB?

In 2008, the Post has allocated approximately 30 percent more space to covering the Nats, Orioles and MLB than the Redskins, Ravens and NFL, despite the fact that the NFL is by far the country's most popular league and the Redskins by far this area's most popular team.


3) Why do The Post's beat writers for other teams get so much more space in the paper than does the Nats staff?

These results are based on archive searches from the past 12 months of coverage involving the main writers for each team. Due to some quirks of our system and some agate-type stuff that shows up in our archiving system, all the numbers are likely a bit too high, but to statistically insignificant degrees, I believe. And some of these might be national stories that only mention the local team tangentially.

Wizards stories by Carter/Lee: 466
Nationals stories by Svrluga/Harlan: 457
Redskins stories by La Canfora/Reid/Bryan/Carpenter: 398
Capitals stories by El-Bashir: 234
D.C. United stories by Goff: 156

4) Well, ok, but the rest of the paper offers more institutional support to and coverage of other teams, right?

Ok, here are the total numbers of stories that mention each team's full name in The Post over the past 12 months.

Washington Nationals: 918 (662 in the Sports section)
Washington Redskins: 906 (622 in the Sports section)
D.C. United: 489 (334 in the Sports section) (this is artificially high due to television listing quirks)
Washington Wizards: 439 (361 in the Sports section)
Washington Capitals: 356 (295 in the Sports section)


5) But surely the columnist totals will show that the Nats are woefully under-covered, right?

Here are the total columns written by our four main sports columnists (Wise/Boswell/Wilbon/Jenkins) that are primarily about one of these five teams. And I had to do this manually, so there are almost certainly a few small errors. This is where you really see the Redskins' dominance; more interesting is how the other teams were covered.

Redskins: 119 (Wise 61, Boswell 32, Wilbon 15, Jenkins 11)
Nationals: 36 (Boswell 36) (Also 6 in Metro by Marc Fisher)
Wizards: 32 (Wise 17, Wilbon 14, Jenkins 1)
Capitals: 12 (Wise 10, Boswell 2)
D.C. United: 1 (Wise 1)

[Also, please bear in mind that the Redskins number, while absurd, was definitely cranked up by Sean Taylor death and Joe Gibbs retirement/coaching search, during which we were running about two columns a day. The Skins still would have dominated the results, but these were two of the biggest Redskins stories of the past decade or so, along with Gibbs returning and Snyder buying the team, and they happened within months of each other.)


What about blog output? Nats fans seem to feel like they're neglected on their blog at times.

I didn't figure out total words or entries. I'd like to, some day. But just by way of comparison, please bear in mind that in the four days following Gilbert Arenas's free-agent signing, which changed the direction of this franchise for years, the Wizards Insider had exactly one entry. Also note that the Redskins Insider recently endured a two-week span with exactly zero posts. The Nationals Journal is one of our most frequently updated sports blogs, without question, with the beat writers essentially volunteering their time to The Post by blogging during off days on which they aren't paid. Many of our other beat writers, I should say, do the same thing.


What about the rampant use of various interns to help with Nats coverage?

I understand why this would rankle, but it's been happening forever in the summer. Steve Spurrier famously ridiculed The Post for having an intern grade the team's quarterbacks during training camp. Then-summer intern Steve Yanda provided lots of Redskins training camp coverage last summer, and also logged 15 Nats bylines. Two-year intern Katie Carrera is on Washington Capitals duty all week. Intern Zach Berman and high school writer Paul Tenorio are manning the D.C. United beat while Goff is on vacation. It's part of what makes Post internships so prized, and these internships have uncovered countless future journalism stars. Sending one of these interns to one of 162 Nats games does not connote a lack of interest in the team.

That 9,000-local-households watching Nats games the other day seemed farcically low. Isn't it possible that Nielsen is wrong, that the channel confusion is to blame or that the lack of HD coverage is to blame?

All possible. All factors. So, for the sake of argument, grant 9,000 additional households for MASN confusion, 9,000 more for Nielsen mistakes, and 9,000 more for fans who simply can't bear to watch HD, and the team's ratings and total viewership would still be among the worst in the majors. That's after quadrupling the Nats' number, while assuming that every other team's ratings were listed correctly. And if the channel confusion is so crippling, how are Orioles fans managing to find the games? Ditto with Wizards and Caps fans, whose games also frequently change stations? You have to fight your way through a bunch of tangles to get that number anywhere near respectability.

And if you ran a team or a network with published ratings like that, and you knew people were talking and writing about that number, wouldn't you attempt to show that the number is wrong, if indeed it was? No one from the Nats or MASN has yet made that claim, at least that I've heard.

Doesn't the fact that so many Nats fans believe so strongly that the coverage is lacking make it self-evident that this is so?

In the six years I've been at this paper, I've heard repeated, impassioned and well-argued complaints from the following fan bases about their lack of coverage and/or prominence in The Post: the Nats, the Caps, D.C. United, the Mystics, the Washington Glory, the Washington Bayhawks, the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles, Maryland, Georgetown, George Washington, George Mason, American, Howard, West Virginia, and every high school within a 250-mile radius. (That last one was a joke.) In addition, many Redskins fans are convinced that they've been given a beat writer who hates their team and is programmed to highlight the negative. The only fan bases of teams we regularly cover that I haven't heard complaints from are the Wizards, Virginia and Virginia Tech. But that's just me.

In conclusion?

Considering the 12-month story numbers cited above, our various travel budgets, the local TV ratings, our blog hits and announced attendance figures, and balancing those factors with the success our local teams have enjoyed over the past year and their national prominence (i.e Ovechkin's MVP), to me it's clear that Caps fans have the greatest argument for being under-covered by The Post. And, frankly, that Nats fans have the worst argument.

More caveats: Many of you have, and will again, make a distinction between quantity of coverage and quality of coverage. Have at it. As the team wins, the interest level, Web hits and TV ratings will increase dramatically. We all know that. And while I'm a "fan" of no team, I want every local team to succeed, because success leads to Web clicks, and Web clicks leads to Steinbergian employment.

I don't relish "bad Nats news" at all. A summer of clicks from Nats fans would be great for me, but doing my typical style of blogging about the Nats has consistently been a loser for me compared to other teams.

I'm not trying to be pedantic, overly defensive, antagonistic or boring. Feel free to disagree at great length, and to point out exactly what disappoints you with The Post's coverage. We're big boys and girls. We can take it. Although it might prompt us to write massively long blog items.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 9, 2008; 12:29 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , D.C. United , Media , Nats , Redskins , Wizards  
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Comments

There have been many complaints about the under-covering of UVA (chiefly relating to numbers compared with Tech and U-Md as well as perceived bias towards those two teams when they play UVA). Which just adds to the fact that everyone just loves complaining.

More Z-Man posts!!! He deserves his own category separate from the Redskins.

Posted by: UVA | July 9, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you're right in saying that the fanbase is unhappy generally with a crap team and want to take it out on the Post. That's clear. This town is a crappy sports town and the baseball fan base is less than it is in other cities, no doubt. Look at the attendance and TV numbers.

Comparing the travel dollars between the Nats and other teams is, however, bad science. Baseball is inherently more expensive because of the amount of games played on the road. The football team only played 8 road games, including several within division (such a long trip to Philadelphia, right?). If a sports desk is going to be even moderately respectible, it will have to suck it up and pay the travel expenses of the baseball beat writer.

It's like having Baghdad coverage in the news section; It's inherently important, but it's also very expensive. A newspaper (and sports desk) of any quality covers the baseball team and pays for the travel. Having worked on the Post sports desk, I can certainly say it's a real newspaper and one that wouldn't neglect even a dreadful team.

And the numbers you run reflect this game disparity. Every baseball game will get a recap story, so the Nats have an inherent 150ish story advantage to the Redskins (that's not even counting notebook stories that usually are written after every game). So, to measure the coverage by story number is probably foolish. I think the column number is a better indication of a lack of coverage.

Look, no one at the sports desk really cares about the team. And why should they? The Nats stink. But, again, it's a better indication of actual choice in covering the team.

Putting a beat writer on the team and paying for his/her travel is a given. The question is whether those working at the paper actually want to put the team on the sports front or if a columnist actually wants to write about the team.

The number of games makes your numbers moot, Dan. Your points aren't far off, but you're being defensive in arguing against a complaint that has real merit (the Nats are undercovered in the Post).

Posted by: R.J.G. | July 9, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

WWBOD?
(What would Ben Olsen Do?)

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I think page layout contributes to the perception that coverage of the Nats is lacking. Also, there's been a real dropoff in quality from Svrluga to Harlan, something which I'm sure you aren't able to address. Add in Harlan's quip about it being a tedious beat, and it raises the question of whether money was the biggest factor in hiring a 25 year old for the kind of job that a lot of sportswriters would consider the capstone of their writing careers. And I know that Roger Kahn and Tyler Kepner were hired as beat reporters at a young age, so far, Chico's no Kahn or Kepner.

Posted by: Kevin | July 9, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

wow, Nats fans are actually complaining about lack of coverage. what 3 or 4 pages a day (some of that is even more annoying O's coverage) isn't enough.

From my point of view the only local team that really should have a complaint is the Caps (with the Wizards having a small complaint and DC United a minor complaint). I actually get annoyed at the amount of Nats coverage in the Post. As for the blogs, frankly Goff and JLC just get the whole blogging thing better then the other reporters and it shows.

The Nats have done a terrible time selling the team to the local market (but the Post has tried to help) and the local ripoff that is the stadium (which is completely devoid of any character or soul) doesn't help. They don't seem to realize that a significant portion of the market gave up on baseball during the long hiatus and need to be enticed back. We rock the hats because they represent DC not because they represent the Nats.

Posted by: FreeDC | July 9, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Great post Dan. Great retort by R.J.G. You beat me to the punch on the bad math regarding travel dollars and number of games, etc.

We Nats fans just need to realize that our team stinks, and it reflects in game attendance and viewer/listener-ship.

One caveat to the whole 9k households thing though, is that it's 9000 households watching a LOT of games, versus the dozen or so United games. So it's a lot more views of Nats games in total (for whatever pittance that is worth).

Plus "You know those rating systems are flawed. They don't take in account houses that have... uh... more than two television sets... and...other things of that nature."

Posted by: Chris | July 9, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

When in doubt, blame the media.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

And they call soccer fans whiny.

Posted by: RodneyDangerfield | July 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

All I can say is it's because baseball is boring as hell.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | July 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Based on all of those stats, one thing seems very clear to me - given the significant travelling and articles, Svrluga better be getting paid 3-4 times more than all the other beat writers (and Chico too, but let him get his bearings first)!

And when he joins the Redskins beat coverage, does that mean that LaCanfora will stop his moaning about how much he has to work? I hope Svrluga puts him right in his place!

Overall, I really don't care about the Post coverage - I don't buy the paper and I really only come to this blog, Nationals Journal and Redskins Insider. But, your analysis is faulty in that it takes absolutely no consideration of the fact that the baseball season is 162 games, so of course the number of articles is going to be more (automatically, you get 162 articles, plus additional articles for the new stadium and spring training, and then any other misc articles). Of course the travelling is going to be more - 5 weeks down in Florida, plus 81 road games, many involving flights plus multiple nights at hotels. Compare that to the Redskins - even with 3-4 writers covering the team, you are talking about a flight out on Saturday, 1-2 nights hotel, and a flight back Sunday night / Monday morning. Of course the blog posts are going to be more - again, automatic 162 posts for the lineups.

All that said, I am a baseball freak and I don't get the complaints about quantity of coverage. All I need is a game recap (in case I don't watch the game), and something somewhere (i.e., the blog) that tells me about any injuries or other shenanigans.

A legitimate baseball columnist would be good, but I still probably wouldn't read the columns - I don't particularly like columnists - I consider myself a smart person and I don't need someone telling me how to think - just present the facts and I will make up my own mind. The current baseball columnist rarely uses facts, and from what I have read, he can't seem to make up his mind (one time, the Lerners are cheap, the next time, the Nationals are building the team the right way!). Reality is your best baseball columnist right now runs the Washington Post intranet (I think that's what she does at least!)!

Posted by: Kevin | July 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't generally think it is the amount of Nats coverage but rather the quality of the coverage and how it is brought to the masses. Even when the Skins were in the dumps, Tony K. (and to a lesser extent Wilbon, etc) at least brought the story to you with some personality. Of course Tony complained, but he entertained as well. I feel as if most of WaPo's coverage of the Nats lately has been in dreary, unentertaining, essay form. This isn't a war, it's a sport and should be covered with a less serious persona. Attack the Nats front office for the poor product on the field and poor concession service. Give it a little spunk though. Throw in some similies and metaphors. Attack the (us) fans for lack of support for a new team and basically letting Bmore come in here and take over our turf like they're Marlo on the West Side. Do something, just stop making feel like I'm reading a report and nothing else.

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 9, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

It's a problem when the right wing propaganda paper has 2 beat writers and a columnist and the WaPo has one beat writer and a columnist who writes about golf, the O's and maybe every few weeks writes a nats column directly contradicting his last nats column (for those who can even remember that far back). That said, the Nats Journal is awesome, under both svrluga and chico.

Posted by: .390 | July 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me what exactly there is to report on or cover when it comes to the Nats? Another 12-0 shellacking? Another blown save in the 9th? Or maybe the $7 beers at the city funded $615 joke by the river?

Posted by: DirtyHarry | July 9, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

why did I just read that washington times blog? I feel nauseated.

Posted by: inchesfromyourface | July 9, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

when do NFL training camps open again?

Posted by: chris LArry | July 9, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Masterful job on this post, Steinz. You promised to address this issue "spectacularly," and you delivered.

That is all.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | July 9, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The lack of columns about teams not named Redskins is something I don't understand. Having more columnists cover the other teams is the biggest improvement that the Post can make. I'm hoping Svrluga will become one of those columnists soon, I think he would be excellent in that role and could handle several sports.

Posted by: WFY | July 9, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The main point that most everyone seems to be missing is that the team is losing and has been losing since they came to town. This makes casual fans apathetic (causing the poor ratings and half-hearted coverage) and hardcore fans cranky (causing them to whine about things like the WaPo coverage.) All of this silliness will be solved when/if the Nats can put together a decent team and make a run at the postseason.

Posted by: willmmmm | July 9, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Even the three local tv stations have a hard time trying to cover the Nats. Doing an upbeat positive piece on the team isn't easy. Lindsey Czarniak must cuss up a storm when her boss tells her to go down to the stadium and do some interviews. Good thing is nobody's listening to her, just looking at her.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The United are siphoning budget dollars that are better spent covering the Nats. AP coverage is sufficient for soccer.

Posted by: PB | July 9, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

*sigh* Dan, Dan...I knew Maury Povich. I watched Maury Povich. Maury Povich was an imaginary friend of mine...you, sir, are no Maury Povich...

(Shorter PB: "Maury, I am out of control! It's my hot body! I do what I want! I do what I want!")

Posted by: EdTheRed | July 9, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, just maybe, the Post would have less complaints if they promoted writers/bloggers that their readers already like/indentify with. Dan Steinberg and Jon Forsythe have been doing this blog for a good while now and have connected with the readers (obviously). Why not have them branch out and expand their coverage? As far as I know this is one of the more popular sections (DC Sports Bog) that the paper has.

Posted by: Larusso | July 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Since you haven't heard any complaints about Wizards coverage let me help you out there.

- Michael Lee seems to hate the Wizards and feel that covering them is beneath him (yes, i understand he's the NBA reporter but he should still remember that he writes in Washington and he doesn't have to be an NBA hype man).

- There is rarely any news (non game reports) about the team. (yes, the GM is notoriously tight lipped and the bog takes all the personality stuff)

- The blog is rarely updated and seems to be the dumping ground for unpublished stories instead of an informal news source. (yes, things have gotten much better and it is the offseason)

meh whatever, it seems to me that sports fandom in this area goes 1) SKINS 3) wizards 4) UMd 5) Caps/United (tied) 6) Nats/O's/Yankees/Red Sox (tied) and the only things people can't complain about are 'skins coverage, general baseball (not team specific) coverage, and terps coverage with wizards and Goff coverage being solid.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I should've built the United a stadium instead of the Nats.

Posted by: AdrienFenty | July 9, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

The lack of Caps coverage is criminal. The ratings and attendance numbers and other factors (web clicks?) across the board are nearly identical to the Wizards', yet they receive about 1/2 the Post coverage.

Thank God for the Caps' blogosphere and the Times' coverage.

Posted by: Ben | July 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

my unscientific research shows that fans of a particular team always feel that their team is getting the shaft and that the other teams are getting more coverage. this is based upon perception of those fans and not facts. thanks for the facts dan.

Posted by: duh.. | July 9, 2008 1:28 PM | Report abuse

"In 2005 The Post spent considerably more travel dollars covering the Nats than the Redskins, which is by far our biggest meal ticket. In 2006, when the Redskins made the playoffs, The Post again spent more travel dollars covering the Nats. In 2007, The Post spent virtually the same amount covering the two teams. According to 2008 projections, The Post will spend more travel money covering the Nats and MLB (not including the Orioles) than on any other non-Olympic sport, and by a considerable margin. We are invested in this sport, and in this team."

This makes as much sense as the argument that the Nationals would be a better team if only they had a higher payroll.

The Lerners may or may not be tightwad penny-pinchers, but it sure appears that the Post is. Dan, it's not about how much money you spend doing something, it's about how much you get out of the money you spend. If you're looking for a currency with which to value the relative coverage the Post allots to the many sports teams in town, that currency is column inches of newsprint expended on the team per game played during a season. Can we have that figure for the Redskins, Caps, Wizards and Nationals, please?

Posted by: Ray King's Gut Feeling | July 9, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the analysis, Steinberg. You have no idea how much better it feels just to hear that someone thinks your wrong, rather than hear nothing at all.

Most of us Nats fans just want to be able to read about what happened at the game last night and some of the overarching themes of the season. When the 'Skins have a game, we can read both what happened and what it means for every single game and - most of us - really like that, since we're fans of the local football team, too.

As the situation stands, we have a choice made every game between being able to read about the details of the game OR being able to read about the overarching themes, with every two-weeks getting a "big picture" article on an off day. We don't want one every day, just a column two or three times a week would do in addition to reading about the game.

The only fault I have with your analysis is that you use total number of articles as your assessment of coverage. Here's your numbers in a different light:

Redskins stories by La Canfora/Reid/Bryan/Carpenter: 398 - 23.4/game
Wizards stories by Carter/Lee: 466 - 5.3/game
D.C. United stories by Goff: 156 - 5.2/game
Nationals stories by Svrluga/Harlan: 457 - 2.8/game
Capitals stories by El-Bashir: 234 - 2.6/game

Finally, I think it's interesting that the Caps are universally beloved at NJ... and have an even worse coverage situation. Maybe that says more about us.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Baseball in DC. Hmmmm. Good idea. I hope it happens.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Ex-Section 506,

Would you really want 23.4 articles per game about the Nationals? Prolly be tough to do since they play, oh, EVERY FREAKIN' NIGHT! The Redskins are the cash cow in DC for all things media. They play once a week. Three-ish articles a day about the 'Skins sounds about right.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

you spent all that "travel money", yet the Times still blows you out of the water in regards to the quality of its Nats Coverage.

the Post may be the superior overall newspaper, but in terms of the Washington Nationals, the Post can't really touch the Times at this point.

The guys over at the Times, Zuckerman, Goessling, and company do an *excellent* job.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 9, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

just to clarify, it isn't about how much money you spend on "travel time".

It's about the quality of the coverage. and the Post's coverage quality is subpar at best when it comes to the Nationals.

It was decent when Barry Svrluga was the beat writer, but it went waaaaaay down once Chico Harlan and Random-Intern-every-other-game took over.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 9, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

____, I definitely don't want that many articles a day, even about the Skins, holy Screech on a stick.

But considering those "two" articles are a 500 - 700 word gamer and the 250 word "notebook" that is for personnel moves and rehab updates, I could stand to have a little bit more.

And, yes, they lose a lot, but they're embarking on a rebuilding process, so it's not like there's nothing to talk about. There's a lot going on of interest throughout the whole organization that's going to be bringing a World Series to DC again, it's really quite extraordinary - or at the very least worth spilling ink on a teensy bit more.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

FYI...Barry Svrluga was taken off the Nats beat b/c he was too critical of the team for Lerner/Kasten's liking.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Dan, I get what you're trying to say, but am a little skeptical of two of your answers:

1) Why does The Post devote so many more resources to covering other professional teams and leagues besides the Nats and MLB?

In 2005 The Post spent considerably more travel dollars covering the Nats than the Redskins, which is by far our biggest meal ticket. In 2006, when the Redskins made the playoffs, The Post again spent more travel dollars covering the Nats. In 2007, The Post spent virtually the same amount covering the two teams. According to 2008 projections, The Post will spend more travel money covering the Nats and MLB (not including the Orioles) than on any other non-Olympic sport, and by a considerable margin. We are invested in this sport, and in this team.

--The Nats play 10x as many games as the Redskins. I'm not sure if it would be even possible to spend more money to travel 8 times to various NFL cities throughout the year for Redskins road games (plus the preseason) than it would to travel to roughly 25-30 times to various MLB cities throughout the year for Nationals road games (plus Spring Training).


2) Why does The Post devote so much more space to other professional teams and leagues besides the Nats and MLB?

In 2008, the Post has allocated approximately 30 percent more space to covering the Nats, Orioles and MLB than the Redskins, Ravens and NFL, despite the fact that the NFL is by far the country's most popular league and the Redskins by far this area's most popular team.

--The Nats' have played 91 games in 2008 (not including spring training). The Redskins have played 1 game, and it was on January 5. It's no surprise to me that the Nats have received 30% more coverage.

I'm not one of the people who clamors for more Nats coverage, as I think it's sufficient. I just saw holes in some of the explanations.

Posted by: Hoagie | July 9, 2008 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dan, check it out, if you blog (bog?) about the Nats then all of us from NJ will come and fight with you over here!

Excellent post. And some good retorts, especially from R.J.G. and my NJ colleagues Ray King's Gut Feeling and Section 506.

Respond, and you'll get some more hits! (Just don't leave us for an intern!)

(Actually, I'm not opposed to giving interns a test drive here and there, but perhaps it should be in addition to, rather than in place of, the normal coverage.)

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

also, of COURSE you will 'spend more travel dollars" on baseball than on Football. there is simply much more travel involved.

that says nothing of the quality of coverage. only that you had a guy travel a lot.

that's a supremely weak argument, Dan.

Posted by: MrMadison | July 9, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Dan,

I think some of the biggest gripes are that 1. After a great win the story is below the fold with a story that isn't as "important".

2. The Post coverage, outside of Chico Harlan or Barry Svrluga's articles, has been highly critical of the Nats and harpering on all the negative aspects. there have been numerous mentions of the low attendance, the parking situation, the low television ratings etc. Also, the little blurb in the Metro section is almost always negative. It seems the Post coverage on a whole has been highly negative. It could be that this is true with the other teams, which I don't read, but there never seemed to be a honeymoon. It has all been negative since the Nats came to town. National Fans have been put through a lot. We got the team YEAH! we almost lost the team twice because of the fighting over the stadium. Then there was all the talk about the attendance. Then there was all the talk about how there will be no parking and driving will be a nightmare and it is in unsafe part of town etc. The nats travel budget is going to be larger and there should be more stories because it happens over a longer timefram than the other sports. However, the coverage has been highly negative.

Posted by: BRothbart | July 9, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Is that really true? How do you know that? I'm not criticizing here since it's plausible.

Posted by: @ Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

From the perspective of a cat, the Post took the trappings of a daily ritual and moved both the food bowl and the litter box, thereby inducing behavioral changes in the manner of scratching the furniture and marking the curtains with urine.

The daily ritual, of course, is the game. Food bowl == newspaper coverage w/ new beat writer and noticeably different style and quality. Litter box == blog, w/ same beat/style attributes as just cited.

If it had been possible to make the change in the off-season, there likely would be far less harping, regardless of team performance or coverage metrics.

Posted by: Toonces | July 9, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

EEW!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand what it is about our complaints that are so hard for everyone to understand:

1. We want DC Taxpayers to pay for our stadium.
2. We want the local press to make the team popular despite its crappy results.
3. When the press makes the team popular, we want to complain about ticket price increase and not being able to get good seats.
4. We want to be able to validate all things associated with the Nats by criticizing DC United.

Posted by: Nats Fan | July 9, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Yes it is true. Ask Barry himself. I bet you get a "No Comment." I cannot name names but I am 100% sure of this. It came from a "friend" of the Lerners/Kasten who basically said it to me matter-of-factly as if the news was common knowledge and no big deal. It caught me by surprise to say the least.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Nats don't need 23 stories per game. They need three. A gamer, a notebook, and a feature. Yesterday, that feature could have been about the apparent bad blood between Odalis Perez and the home plate ump. Or it could have been about the fact that Jack McGeary won his first professional start on Tuesday (that fact courtesy of www.farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com). The Skins get stories about rookie wideouts oversleeping and missing offseason workouts. The Nats coverage is comparatively lacking.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

As someone who has complained about the Post coverage of both the Caps and Nats, thanks, Dan, for presenting statistical evidence that at least my gripe about the Caps has merit.

But I agree with some of the commenters above that actual number of articles or travel budget aren't really comparable when we're talking about a team with a 162 game season compared to teams with seasons half or one-tenth as long. That's why the most revealing part of your post is the columnist numbers, and I think gets to the heart of what upsets Nats fans, as well as Caps fans, about the Post.

The Post has four "superstar" columnists, and when one of them writes about a team, that gives the impression that what's going on with the team is important and worthy of further discussion outside of the typical beat coverage. When the big-time columnists aren't writing about a team, it seems as if the sports section doesn't really care that much about that team. The columnist numbers for Caps articles bear this out--only 12 columns all year (and seven of those were after the seven playoff games, with at least two or three more coming in the last week of the season) means that Post columnists basically didn't notice the team until April.

Yes, the Nats did have the second most columns written about them of the D.C. teams. But they were all by one columnist. I really enjoy reading Tom Boswell--even if his opinion of "The Plan" seems to go back and forth depending on the direction of the wind. But I'd still like to hear a different viewpoint sometimes. The fact that only one of the four columnists at the Post wrote about the Nats at all in an entire year indicates to the average reader of the Post that baseball isn't high on the agenda of the Post sports section. Gosh, even the Caps had both Boz and Wise weigh in during the playoffs.

Perhaps this problem is partly due to the Post columnists--Sally Jenkins lives in NYC, and Wilbon seems to have become basically a national issues columnist with the occasional Wizards or Redskins column. But I think this is one reason for the neglect felt by Caps and Nats fans (or at least this one).

Posted by: Fingerman | July 9, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"FYI...Barry Svrluga was taken off the Nats beat b/c he was too critical of the team for Lerner/Kasten's liking."

Well, that's clearly complete nonsense. Why on earth would you think that the Nats have any leverage whatsoever in dealing with the Post's coverage of the team?

Posted by: joebleux | July 9, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The United are over-covered with 5.2 articles per game or put another way 10.4 articles per goal scored.

Posted by: PB | July 9, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Calm down Nats fans - your owners are busy working on how to fund this team as their real estate dreams in Southeast go up in SMOKE!

God forbid they use any of their money, or should I say, DC's $700 million gift (Construction plus delay payments), to make your team one worth being talked about period.

Face it - the Nats and DC blew it when they moved the team here in 2005. They used up the goodwill on this pathetic/should have been contracted franchise that year and the glisten of a new ballpark lasted, maybe a week.

Have fun in Portland/Las Vegas or part of a Triple AAA league one day.

Posted by: Virginia Blue Blood | July 9, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Dan, great blog entry regardless of which side of the issue you fall, but I have to take issue with your analysis of the 9000 viewer number. Either the data's reasonably accurate or it isn't. If the latter, as I suspect, you can't just perform some random mathematical operations to the number and make it all better. You have no idea whether it's off by a factor of two or a factor of ten. I'd really love to know what the Neilsen methodology is for coming up with these numbers for regional sports networks.

Posted by: joebleux | July 9, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

If you think their is no connection between the Nats ownership (or any major sports franchises' ownership) and the #1 newspaper covering them you have your head up your a$$.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 2:10 PM | Report abuse

VA Blue Blood, where does the AAAAAAAAA team play?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, Bogger Vance.

The only thing I would add/question is Point #2 ... it would stand to reason that football would lag behind here, in so much as the 2008 season (or even training camp, which produces a glut of stories) hasn't even started yet.

Posted by: Eddie C | July 9, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

My only complaint about the Capitals coverage is that Tarik doesn't elaborate too much in his blogs or give many personal opinions. Which maybe is good in a way anyways. But the Capitals coverage really has improved over the last year and I appreciate it.

I think one of the biggest things with the Nationals coverage is Chico is replacing Barry, and Barry for me personally, is one of the best writers nationally that I have ever come across. It's unfortunate for Chico! In a lot of ways I have become disinterested some in the Nats blog and stories.

On top of that though, the Nationals terrible losing, trading for unlikeable players, having a crazy gm that is hard to take seriously, and a president who has a "plan" and has given the keys to said crazy GM makes me really not care. Also, the Nationals main announcer on MASN is boring, and even when the Nats are the only team on TV, I just turn it because the annoucing is so poor. This opinion is shared by many of my friends, too.

There are some people who really care about the Nationals. I feel sorry for them because they have to put up with the front office, MASN's abuse, and now Barry covering the Redskins. Time will heal all woes.

Posted by: Ian | July 9, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Playing 162 games doesn't mean the post should devote 10x as much coverage to the Nats as they do the Redskins. Quite the opposite. Each game may be fun to watch on TV or in person, but each game matters less than a football game so people don't buy a paper to read about it. If there were a rabid fanbase (and cracking 5 digits would help) that hangs on every move the team makes (as in Boston or NY), the Post would cover it. That may yet happen, but don't blame the Post for the fact that it hasn't yet.

Posted by: danj | July 9, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

PB you are insane (and insanely bitter). United (notice the lack of "the") and soccer is very popular in this area (whether you like it or not). They are covered by one reporter (who does an above and beyond job). the Soccer insider is the second most popular blog here, based on the numbers they easily earn their coverage. It isn't United's fault that the nats haven't taken off like you expected (that blame can be squarely laid at the money grubbing hands of MLB and the Lerners).

Posted by: FreeDC | July 9, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

i think 506 hit the nail on the head. it's not XXX stories per year, it's X stories per game.

while i don't want to see 23 stories a week about the nats (and to be fair, i don't consider the notebook a "story," it's 2-3 paragraphs at best), i'll agree with the idea of seeing at least *1* column a week by a columnist giving us some information depth on the team. too many of bos's columns have been on peripheral issues instead of something with a little more meat to it. for example, today's column on TV ratings vs an in-depth column on something like, say, the incredible number of injuries to the top players on the team. or some backstory to why perez was ejected last night for arguing balks (and by an ump that seems to have it in for him).

let's face it, if gilbert had been ejected from a wizards game by a ref who he'd had multiple run ins with and there was an appearance of an overzealous ref, there's a good chance wilbon writes about it. granted, perez is no arenas, but you get my point. these are the kinds of things that good coverage of a team would provide to fans. they're things that would be reported on if they happened to the wizards or redskins. but not the nats or the caps. and that's the beef. not $$$ or number of stories, but the actual content of the stories. well, maybe number of "columns," too, but even then, the content of columns has been weak. almost like bos is mailing it in. and there are *no* other columnists who even care, let alone write about the nats even occasionally, while our erstwhile baseball columnist will comment on every other sport. and i won't dog him for that, only pointing out that if he's not giving that much attention to the nats, it's exacerbated by no other columnist giving *any* attention. the fact that you had to reference *METRO* columns by fisher to even put a second name up there shows how little respect the nats get from the top ranks of the post.

i have to wonder what the numbers would be like if you compared 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 so far. how far would they have dropped since 2005?

Posted by: 231 | July 9, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Danj is correct. If the Nats have a game in September and the Redskins have a practice, that doesn't mean the Nats should have more coverage on that day. During the season, the goal should be to report on what is going on with the team.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

For those of you still complaining about lack of Nats coverage because most of them are simply the game recaps, what more do you want? Columnists ripping on how bad the Nationals are? Would that satisfy you? NO. It would just cause you to gripe about how the Post is biased and wants to see the Nationals fail.

Dan has given plenty of coverage on the bog and the NJ has done so also to the Nationals and their woes.

The Nats deserve far less coverage than they get. Once they get good the coverage will improve but right now there is no demand. Watch and see how next season leads to greater coverage of the Caps now that they're out of the basement.

Posted by: JDP | July 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Fantastic stuff Dan. Proves one whopping point - we need more Goff articles!!!

Posted by: Kev | July 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Bog-

Do you realize baseball is a longer season than any other professional sports? Of course a lot of money/budget will be spent on covering a baseball team.

I think a lot of Nats fans are just tired of the lack of coverage (Barry was the man would write at least two feature stories a week on the club) and maybe the negative coverage.

We all know the Nats stink. But we don't need some of you to "Bob Carpenter" their struggles. By that I mean every time you post on the Nationals it's something negative. We get it they stink. We don't need a beat writer/blogger/chat host to tell us that.

Maybe go out and do a feature on the minor leagues - so we know that the Nationals "Plan" is working.

Posted by: DC | July 9, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: FreeDC | July 9, 2008 2:17 PM


Don't feed the troll....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I rate PB's use of "The United" a 2 out of 10.

Posted by: Troll-O-Meter | July 9, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

F Wilbon

Posted by: 4th | July 9, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to weigh in here on Nats Mole's comments. Barry may well have been too critical of the Nats for the liking of the Lerners/Kasten -- I have no idea -- but that was not why he was moved to a new beat. We wanted to increase Redskins coverage and, frankly, the baseball beat is a killer. You really don't want to keep a person on it for more than four years or so. It's as simple as that. Frankly, I've never worked for any outlet that changed a reporter because of the owners' complaints. In anything, I and most editors I know would consider that a pretty persuasive argument for keeping a person on the beat.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm a huge Nationals fan and desperately want the team to succeed, but I've never understood the blogoshere criticism of the Post or individual writers. How many front page headlines with huge color photos do you really expect (or want!) when your team is last in wins, runs scored, batting average, OBP, etc.? When the Nats have shown signs of relevancy in their 3+ years here, fans/media have gotten excited every time. There will be more press for the Nats when the Nats deserve some. At this point, Dan is correct, that they get more coverage than they have earned. I personally don't even want to read about them most mornings: its too depressing. (And 9,000 viewers doesn't surprise me: they are difficult to watch right now.) Blame the team/owners/management, not the press.

Posted by: Keith R | July 9, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Post should use PB's ratio for articles written. If United is overcovered at 5.2 articles per game or 10.4 per goal scored then the Nats should get 1 per game or .0746 per runs scored in a 9 inning game. Maybe the Post should use their team ERA instead. Then it would be 9.75 aricles per game.

Posted by: Chico | July 9, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

This is nothing compared to the uproar over the lack of Washington Diplomats coverage in the Post and Star during the late 1970s. It was much worse.

Posted by: Culture of Laziness | July 9, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

@ Cindy

Barry was an in-depth, frank and sometimes too-critical BASEBALL writer. He was THE GUY fans went to when they wanted to read about the Nats. With the plethora of writers already covering the Redskins what would be the justification for moving Barry over to the football side? Why wouldn't you keep him as the main baseball reporter and delegate other lesser known journalist/interns to cover beneath him? In essence, you take a baseball writer and take him out of his element.....just because. "Its as simple as that." Sounds fishy if you ask me. Often times moves are made after pressure is put on from above.

Barry critical of Nats + Lerners unhappy with Barr = Why don't we move Barry to Redskins.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'll second that.

"And some good retorts, especially from R.J.G. and my NJ colleagues Ray King's Gut Feeling and Section 506."

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 9, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The United have nothing to do with the following comment...

If the Lerners refuse to commit the resources to bring their own team's payroll up to the middle third in the league, why should the Post be expected to spend anything above the bare minimum to cover the team?

Posted by: PB | July 9, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

when are they going to get Orioles' games of 980? Baseball on the radio is brutal.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Dan, I appreciate you taking the time to address this issue and give us your viewpoint. I just now saw your post, and others have made many of the points I would make to explain why your points are misguided in defending The Post's Nats coverage. Here are a few points:

1) Others have made this point already, but let me just reiterate. Baseball teams play 162 games a season. You can't compare $ expenditure or space in the paper vs. other teams and sports that play far fewer games. It is a meaningless comparison.

2) Your focus on $ expenditure is interesting, and consistent with what we have heard from The Post from the beginning. Once relocation was announced, Emilio Garcia-Ruiz's public comments focused on how expensive it would be for the paper to cover the Nats. Not what an exciting opportunity it would be, but what a burden it would be (and how it would make it difficult for Emilio to hire that all-important third Skins beat writer). That attitude has dominated the Post's editorial coverage decisions. The issue is commitment and quality, not just recapping each of the 162 games.

3) Editorial indifference or disdain towards the Nats is clear. This is part of the quality vs. quantity issue that others have addressed and that you allude to but don't take on. There is just no indication that The Post has been enthusiastic about covering the home town baseball team, going back to 2005. This is pervasive, but here are a few instances that exemplify the issue:

--How does a Post editor allow Eli Saslow to write this article (http://tinyurl.com/5jdj37) last September recapping a game against the Phillies that could have run in the Philly Inquirer as the home town team's story? Honestly Dan, I would love it if you would write a lengthy blog post explaining *that* one--Barry suggested he would do so, but he never did. In all seriousness, that kind of story should have never been printed in The Post. Do you think papers in Boston, New York, Philly, Chicago, or any other major league city would ever run a gamer like Saslow's?

--The Nats play a doubleheader against the Cards last month, on the same day that the amateur draft takes place. How much space do all of these developments rate? One story. Emilio Garcia-Ruiz later admitted openly that this was a mistake, but again the fact that it happens shows that the paper just doesn't care much about covering the Nats properly.

--Chico Harlan, who has no experience covering baseball at any level and after covering the Nats for all of two months, tells readers of his blog that covering the Nats is "tedious" and that rather than actually write a story about the game the Nats played the day before, he decided to ignore it and instead write a color piece about Dmitri Young and his family. And an editor let him do that?

--There rarely are the color stories and insights offered that there should be, in addition to the game recaps. This is a prime example of why the Nats beat should have two writers assigned at least on occasion--so one can write the color piece and the other cover the game. By color, I don't mean "frivolous"--I mean the interesting and important side-stories that good reporters with access can provide us, and really round out our knowledge and appreciation as readers and fans. For an example, see Tyler Kepner (one of the stellar former Post interns to whom you refer who probably now scoffs at The Post's baseball coverage) and Jack Curry do it.

4) Columnists. I'm not going to get into the details on the quality (or lack thereof) of Boswell's schizophrenic and sporadic columns here at length, but suffice to say that Kevin said it well. My point here is that the Post simply has no sustained columnist voice on the Nats. It is too bad that the Post's sports editors seem not to care about that.

5) You said at the outset that you don't speak for The Post, or Svrluga or Harlan. I'm glad to hear that. Barry, at least, recognized openly and on several occasions that the Post's Nats coverage was indeed lacking, and that it should improve over time. He professed that the paper was committed to seeing it improve. Perhaps that is no longer true, but I hope that it remains the case.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect Dan to respond to all of these comments, but I certainly hope he attempts to address the ones that make very good points about the flawed statistics, mainly: (a) costs relative to number of games/travel, (b) using 2008 to compare football and baseball when there was only one football game played and 80-some baseball games, and (c) the fact that the Skins are only 60-ish stories behind the Nats, even though they played 150 or so less games!

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | July 9, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Steinberg has been on fire this week, after overcovering the golf thing last weekend.

Posted by: theskinnypost | July 9, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I am one of the 9,000 fans who watch Nats games on TV. I program my remote control flashback button to go to the Nationals' games during commercials. However, every time I switch to the Nationals, I witness fielding errors, pitchers walking batters, pitchers grooving pitches to opposing batters who then hit 3-run home runs, etc. I often think that I am a jinx, that they do much better when I do not watch. How do you factor this phenomenon into the ratings (the feeling that they will self-destruct if you tune them in)?

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | July 9, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Honest, Nats Mole, it may seem fishy and that's a logical progression to put forth, but that really isn't how it happened. If it had gone down that way, I would have just kept quiet on this here Bog.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

The point of my post, above, is that they are so bad I am afraid to watch. Does anyone else get this feeling?

Posted by: rb-freedom-for-all | July 9, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone complaining about Nationals coverage really needs to sit down and ask, like others have said here, what they're really looking for. More articles on getting swept? More articles on games with multiple errors? Or their inability to hit with RISP?

From what I've seen, most of the people whining on websites are the same bleating sheep who've been babbling endlessly for 4 years now about how the ownership and management of the team is moving in the right direction.

Now that the team is an unabashed disgrace, these same bleaters want to scream and whine and point the finger at anyone and anything (the media, the Orioles, the Redskins, etc) to pathetically try and deflect blame and criticism from the people they've staunchly defended for years.

It's not that people want an overnight success story, or a Series title this year, but some signs of progress would be nice. But the Nationals are a mismanaged disaster from the top down. One sellout maybe? Two? For a brand new ballpark? While Kasten might bleat about how their attendance is par for the course, in reality, it's pretty embarrassing for a city with this sized market and a brand new stadium.

What else? Ticket sales are run poorly, prices are ridiculously high, nobody's watching the team on TV...anyone who DOES watch is "rewarded" with seeing a team that acts and plays like it belongs in AA or AAA...not the majors. Honestly? What's the reason to spend money or time to watch this team in person or on TV? Sure, they've had injuries...but it's not like they were the 1927 Yankees before guys started getting hurt. They were a last place team then, now they're the worst team in baseball.

Honestly, to a city that's already had baseball fail twice, none of this is really shocking. But to blame the media seems ridiculous. Not when there really isn't anything worth covering when it comes to baseball here in DC.

Posted by: Molseed | July 9, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

A few notes:

I don't think Barry was forced out. Although I can see him being asked to please move on aka former Mayor Royce being pushed along by Mayor Elect Carcetti.

The Nats not having won enough to warrant more attention is worrisome. Remember Avon slept on Marlo for the most part and now the game belongs to Marlo. Think of WaPo as Avon and the Times as Marlo. Next thing you know the Times (Marlo) has all the readers.

The bottom line is, whether you like to admit it the NFL and MLB are still king in the USA. And as Omar says....If you come at the king, you best not miss.

And my friends, the Post is missing

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 9, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised such a badly reasoned, defensive article was published on this site. This is just the type of writing that makes the Post look like a dated copycat of independent blogging. Dan, you'd be better of developing a unique angle on the Nats news than pointing fingers at your employer's critics. And who cares about story count? Better to write one post a day on the Nats that gives me info I won't get anywhere else, than seven that are just regurgitations of well-covered news items and silly articles like the one you just put up.

I imagine Marcus Brauchli won't stand for this kind of nonsense when he takes over.

Posted by: Livo's Lunch | July 9, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

You are dead wrong. One thing the Washington Post is strong on is supporting objective journalism. Just like they have not given into the constant complaining by the Redskins of Jason LaCanfora's writing (Snyder had made many a snide remark about LaCanfora), they also would not give in to Kasten's pressure on the beat writer for the Post. Kasten made known his displeasure with the Post writings on the Nats, including Barry's own jabs, but in the end, the decision to move Barry off that beat was NOT impacted by Stan's complaining (though I am sure everyone in the Nats office would tell you that they did have that kind of power).

Posted by: to nats mole | July 9, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

So is Luger the third man in on Skins beat, or is someone off....I am confused....

Posted by: chris larry | July 9, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The Nats could be in record-breaking territory in terms of attendance per win. Will the Post research this? or will it just keep regurgitating a ratings story posted in another paper?

Posted by: Livo's Lunch | July 9, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The current Nats team is not undercovered. There's not much there to cover. But the future Nats (and Orioles) are virtually ignored. There is a minor league team for each club in the Post's circulation area, but coverage is limited to maybe one feature a week. How are our future stars doing? The other clubs, Harrisburg, Norfolk and Columbus, aren't that far either. No space? Just trim some of those massive features about people we don't even know that take up most of page 1 and all of an inside page at least. Who cares that much?

As for TV viewership, the second major reason it's so low (behind, of course, the quality of the teams) is the quality of the broadcasts. MASN is so lame compared, say, with Comcast SportsNet when it broadcast the Orioles. The picture is bad and the camera angles and graphics are what you'd expect to see in Harrisburg, not DC. As for the announcers, I think MASN hit paydirt with Gary Thorne, but the rest of the two crews get old by the third inning. Maybe it's growing pains, but this is a major market and if Angelos wanted his own network wo badly, he should have made sure that MASN was able to hit the ground running.

Posted by: Don | July 9, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

@ Mole

Anonymous sources do not cut it here and snitches end up in boarded up Baltimore row houses. It's best you move along.

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 9, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I think there's too much Nats coverage, honestly. I think once a week is enough; recap the last 5 losses or so.

Spend the extra money following the Nats minor league teams. How about an article on Jordan Zimmermann? Or on why Ross Detwiler isn't developing as hoped? Much more interesting, imho.

Posted by: kwamesnani | July 9, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Third person added to the beat, Chris Larry.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

natsmole: could you please explain exactly how you envision that conversation going between the Lerners and the WP? Lerner: Either ditch Svrluga, or, or, or ....we'll stop accepting your advertising dollars at Nat's Field!" WP: "*Gasp* No, not that! Oh, please Mr. Lerner, don't make us take our money back!"

Posted by: joebleux | July 9, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Maybe something like this:

Lerner on a quick call to the Post's editor/owner: Look, B.S. is being a bit too critical. It is making the franchise look bad and inept. We have a solid plan for this franchise in place. Continue to support us and let us grow and when we are successful you will reap the benefits of your graciousness and patience.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Time, savvy spending, and a commitment to player development yields good players. Good players yield a competitive squad. A competitive squad yields fan interest/knowledge (not a fan-friendly stadium and half-assed marketing campaigns). Fan interest/knowledge yields a growing demand for team information. A growing demand for team information yields better coverage by ALL media outlets. Such is the circle of sports. The Nats are well immersed in Step 1 - that's it.

This is a struggling, unlucky team with front-running fans who can barely be bothered to tune in on TV or show up at games (and when they do, define the word apathetic). Going after the Post, especially after seeing Dan's well laid out defense, is simply disingenuous.

Posted by: Stalk Much? | July 9, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Dan I think the Eli S Story is something you need to read and respond to. Barry did promise us the would explain how this could happen and then never did (even though he mentioned it several times as something he needed to do before leaving the beat. As of now Dan, you are counting that story (http://tinyurl.com/5jdj37) as a game story in the WPOST favor......and that just makes you look like a bean counter in this debate.

Posted by: JayB | July 9, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

kwamesnani has a good point. at this time i'd actually rather read about the minor league prospects (maybe that will cultivate more then a passing interest in the nats) then the major league team. it should be relatively easy to cover the local minor league teams (and be a great learning experience for an intern at low cost) would minimize a lot of the complaining and add long term value to the Post's sports section. There's the answer oh Post overlords, switch one of the four pages of daily baseball coverage to the minor league teams.

Posted by: Pindar | July 9, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Nice work...entertaining and informative read.

Posted by: TruthAboutIt.net | July 9, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Dan,

One other instance of inequitable treatment of both the Nats and Caps is on the list of recent blog posts on the front page of washingtonpost.com. For some reason, neither the Caps Insider nor Nationals Journal ever appears on that list, while the Redskins Insider, Wizards Insider and DC Sports Bog frequently do. Is there any explanation for this?

Posted by: Fingerman | July 9, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Fingerman,

That's easy to explain. 'skins, wizards, soccer insider and the sports bog are far and away the most popular (not in that order) blogs on the site. it's probably based on hits. notice how they rearranged the order on the blog overview page to make everyone looking for those four skim past the other stuff to get there. if you hit them they will move.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

That's a nice scenario, Nats Mole, but that isn't how the Post works. An owner may well call Don Graham or, now, Katharine Graham, and he or she may well take the call. But the Graham family does not turn around then and influence coverage or personnel moves. They never have operated that way; one of the many blessings in working for them is that they leave the newsroom alone.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Correction: I mean to say that wasn't how Katharine Graham worked and I anticipate that that will be true of Katharine Weymouth.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I didn't read every comment, so forgive me if this is redundant...

But weren't a fair amount of the Nationals stories about the construction and development of the stadium, and the assorted controversies and benefits involved?

Posted by: pondaz | July 9, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Cindy - Since you are hanging around, could you address why neither the Caps Insider nor Nationals Journal ever appears on the Post's front page blog list, while the Redskins Insider, Wizards Insider and DC Sports Bog frequently do?

Posted by: Brian | July 9, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Let's be clear: myself and most Nats fans do not want LESS United, Caps, Wizards, Mystics, Kastles, etc. coverage. Given an infinite Sports section, we wouldn't even want less football coverage.

We want more coverage of Sports - all sports - because we like sports. Recognizing that the section is limited (TIP: if you want to stay in the printing business, invest in Sports sections, "scoops" in the newsroom are dead, but people will always pay for reading about their team), we believe that space choices should somehow be marginally related to what is "in season".

What would good coverage be in my opinion? My ideal is that of a local baseball fan. What would get me to say "eh, it'll do"? A 500 - 700 word gamer after every game, a 200 word notebook on personnel issues, and a 700 - 800 word feature twice a week on some topic of interest, whether minors or stadium or whatever.

Notebook, gamer, analysis, isn't that the three pillars of good sports coverage? Is that really so unreasonable?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I must have been out town last Sept. 23, but what is up with that game story? That's the story that appeared in the Washington Post? It's 100% from the Phillies perspective.
You've got to be kidding me...

Posted by: CapHill | July 9, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

No comment...

Posted by: WaPoLiveFan16 | July 9, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Dan after you explain the Eli S. Gamer (http://tinyurl.com/5jdj37) and let us know how many clicks and comments you had with this posting in comparison to your normal average per post and say your high water posts.....I do not have the stats and trust you do, but eyeballing things....this has been a big hitter for you.....tell you anything?

Posted by: JayB | July 9, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@3:44

No, that's not the answer, considering that if you judge by comments, the Caps and Nats blogs (in recent days getting a couple hundred comments on recent posts) are much more well read than say, the Maryland Moment blog, which routinely appears there and has no post that's received more than 10 comments in the past week.

Posted by: Fingerman | July 9, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Maybe something like this:

Lerner on a quick call to the Post's editor/owner: Look, B.S. is being a bit too critical. It is making the franchise look bad and inept. We have a solid plan for this franchise in place. Continue to support us and let us grow and when we are successful you will reap the benefits of your graciousness and patience.

Posted by: Nats Mole | July 9, 2008 3:22 PM

That's a ridiculous postulation. It's not a newspaper's job to make a team look good or to help improve its image. And frankly, even if the Nats ever do achieve some semblance of respectability, that certainly wouldn't help the Post. Not too many people buy a subscription because a single team is succeeding. Just like any other paper worth a damn, The Post's reputation is built on its NEWS coverage. It is a NEWSpaper. So if a couple of guys are critical of a middling (at best) baseball team somewhere in the D section, the editors aren't going to pay too much heed to that.

Posted by: Colin | July 9, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Brian...Thanks for your question and I'm sorry I can't give you a definitive answer. It's one for Jon DeNunzio, our online sports editor who happens to be on vacation. I know that the links do rotate and I also know that if an editor happens to call up the webgang and say there's news on a blog, that'll get more attention. We put so much news on the Skins/NFL blogs (and I'm always making Nunz's life a living hell) that that may be why they're there more often. At any rate, it's something Jon should look at.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Cindy. I appreciate the reply.

Posted by: Brian | July 9, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

And, boy, did Section 506 (before moving) nail the issue, IMHO. I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"In addition, many Redskins fans are convinced that they've been given a beat writer who hates their team and is programmed to highlight the negative."

Truer words have never been spoken.

Posted by: murf | July 9, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Nats fans need to get themselves some lives.

Posted by: O's Exec | July 9, 2008 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha, O's Exec! Trolling the bog now, too? How are the crabcakes, friend?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

@Nats Mole

How do you explain LaCanfora then?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

506 is one of our go-to stats guys, Cindy. He's the best!

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 9, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

@Nats Mole

How do you explain LaCanfora then?

Posted by: | July 9, 2008 4:23 PM

-----

Easy. Snyder hates us.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Cindy,

Also thanks for the response on the blog post question, but just to clarify, we're not talking about the front of the sports page, but the front of Washingtonpost.com. Today, there is major news on Caps Insider, which is prominently displayed on the sports front with Tarik's photo, but on the list of blogs on the front page, there are dozens of blogs listed but not the Caps Insider.

Posted by: Fingerman | July 9, 2008 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I find the current Nats coverage entirely adequate in terms of resource expenditure. Chico needs to get over his aversion to recapping the events of the game in his game stories, and he needs to get to pounding out more features and less blog stuff, the way Barry Svrluga did. But, as Steinbog says, that is a separate issue from the resources devoted to the coverage.

EVERY D.C. team needs more attention from the columnists. I almost think they need another columnist, although I dunno who they'd get since you can curse and make money on blogs.

Posted by: Lindemann | July 9, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Yep, Fingerman, that's what I mean: top of post.com.

Posted by: Cindy | July 9, 2008 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Yup, us Caps fans have been given the cold shuolder for years but the tide seems to be turning somewhat. Tarik does a phenomenal job with Capitals Insider. Steinberg has given us some gems over the past season but for the caps news I also go to http://japersrink.blogspot.com/

and http://www.onfrozenblog.com/ both of which update daily, and often several updates each day.

Posted by: Sombrero Guy | July 9, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"I almost think they need another columnist, although I dunno who they'd get since you can curse and make money on blogs."

I agree and also with the poster earlier who suggested letting bloggers dash off a column every now and then. And if those bloggers happen to be beat writers, too, what the heck?

When all "published" work meant print the firewall between opinion writers and article writers made a whole lot of since. But now that these beat writers are editorializing regularly in very easily found blog pieces, it seems that the new model for separation is location rather than personnel.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

wow steinz you should bash Nats fans daily your comment section is finally blowin up!

Posted by: chris larry | July 9, 2008 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Some of you are rightfully pointing out that the expenses of baseball should be higher as there are roughly 150 more games.

You then go on to point out that there are more Column stories for football but that is also due to the rarity of games in the NFL. Each game actually has a great amount of meaning. In baseball a 3 game losing streak means little. In the NFL a loss or win can make or break a season and therefore makes it newsworthy.

You can't have it one way.

Posted by: Skinz | July 9, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

(every D.C. team other than the Redskins, I mean)

Posted by: Lindemann | July 9, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

As the Nats Journal's follower of Evil Empire #4 (by 2008 MLB payroll figures), I find it funny that I think I've seen more stories about the Patriots (NE, not GMU) than I have seen columnist articles about the Nats not written by Boz. Much of Maske's beat from November on, and even Barry S did a game piece or two. Toss in Wilbon's columns, and do a count. My guess is there were more references to Spygate than there were to the Nats when you drop the beat writers, even when Maske is excluded.

I found it strange that Dan defends the amount of columns on the Skins this year by noting the Gibbs resignation and Taylor's demise, but then fails to note how much of the Nats coverage by other than Barry and Chico was devoted to stadium issues. Gee, 2/3 of a billion in public funds - even in Washington, that might draw some interest.

Posted by: PTBNL | July 9, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"In baseball a 3 game losing streak means little. In the NFL a loss or win can make or break a season and therefore makes it newsworthy."

This is totally right. I have no problem with that.

One column every 4.5 games wouldn't even be a bad ratio for Bos (though that number includes an awful lot of stadium pieces in the off-season) if he was really publishing that many this season (he's slowed to one per month).

7.4 columns for every single game (though, to be fair, there are a lot of off-season columns) in the Redskins problems would make anyone who felt they needed a little more feel somewhat slighted, don't you think?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody else feel like we're playing in the neighbor's pool today?

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

How dare you be reasonable!?

Posted by: Kid Bro Sweetz | July 9, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I do, Bob, I do! I'm also a bit nervous O's Exec peed in it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Anyone here know if Dan ever responds to issues raised in good faith about his posts or is he just using us to pump up his numbers....must be near an all time high as far as I can tell.

Posted by: JayB | July 9, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I do as well, BobL. Where have you been recently anyway? By the way, I must say I am enjoying reading some of the comments here from you and 506, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Probably the latter, JayB.

and, 506, eeewwww...

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 9, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

CiL, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Anyone here know if Dan ever responds to issues raised in good faith about his posts or is he just using us to pump up his numbers....must be near an all time high as far as I can tell.

Posted by: JayB | July 9, 2008 4:57 PM

+++++++++++++++++++++++

You may want to restate the 'good faith issues'. While they may be good faith to you, others might look at them as a bit whiny.

I'm not sure I could pick out the 'good faith' issues...?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Just keep the "Meathook running the bases" posts coming and we'll all be better off.

Posted by: StetSports.com | July 9, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Baseball sucks!

Posted by: Barry Bonds | July 9, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I think the moral of the story is put more Nats stuff on the Bog.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

506, let's just say that I'm glad not to be arguing on NJ about coverage issues any more.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Masterful job on this post, Steinz. You promised to address this issue "spectacularly," and you delivered.

That is all.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | July 9, 2008 1:15 PM

Biggest kiss-a** blogger.

Is he trying to get a job with the Post?

Posted by: Delvin | July 9, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

from my nj post earlier today....

Of course the Post spends more on having a reporter (or intern) cover the Nats. The Nats play 81 road games in four different time zones each year and the trips are usually to one or more cities. The Snydermen take eight regular season trips and two are to Philadelphia and New Jersey (Giants). They are usually one-day trips and the team returns home after the game. Steinbog is using an apples-vs.-oranges defense for his indefensible logic.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 9, 2008 3:00 PM

Posted by: natsscribe | July 9, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

woops! was about to comment on something natscribe wrote earler and mis-posted. Sorry.

Of course the Post spends more on having a reporter (or intern) cover the Nats. The Nats play 81 road games in four different time zones each year and the trips are usually to one or more cities. The Snydermen take eight regular season trips and two are to Philadelphia and New Jersey (Giants). They are usually one-day trips and the team returns home after the game. Steinbog is using an apples-vs.-oranges defense for his indefensible logic.

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 9, 2008 3:00 PM

Posted by: leetee1955 | July 9, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

JayB, I think that Dan is probably too busy to respond because he is doing some serious investigating to get to the bottom of The Eli Saslow Philly Incident. ;-)

Seriously though, he did respond to several posts in his recent Nats tv ratings thread, so generally speaking it looks like he will respond.

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 5:16 PM | Report abuse

CiL: Nope, still don't understand what you're talking about. Hey, look! Shiny things! Over there...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

rattle rattle

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Does the Washington Post cover the nationals? I thought they just covered the Oreos.

Posted by: Gone to MAINE | July 9, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

My congratualtions on the article. It has obviously gotten the desired response from the lemmings and we all see how many people read your articles. Well Done!

Now I have a question or request for the author. I believe that the Post's coverage of the Nats is at least on par with any other paper's coverage of their baseball team when all the major and minor sports are represented. How about calling one of your buddies at the Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles, or Miami papers and ask them to do the same study? We could then discount all this number of games and money crap and see if the paper truly is giving the nats their due. It would be more accurate if you chose a town that the team was as bad as the nats....oh yeah you can't do that. Well at least pick one that has as few TV viewers......oh yeah you can't do that either. Well do you best to make it fair. Like asking us to watch such an unwatchable product.....oh yeah....

Posted by: DaMan | July 9, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse

For the record, Dan, I'm a fan and public supporter of the Bog.

I don't think I need to go into how your stats are skewed; our NJ faithful have already explained this better than I could possibly hope to.

What I want to talk about is the idea of the allocation of resources. I think you make a fundamental error in the calculation here, as you assume we're talking about money - and travel money at that. But we're talking about people here.

What is interesting about your points, though, is that one source of criticism could actually prove to be a solution to the problem. Interns, like Yanda (we're all Yanda fans over at NJ) and Carrera (whose work this week over on CI has been excellent, by the way) could go a long way to shoring up the gaps.

Chico Harlan and Tarik El-Bashir are good writers. They are more than capable of writing the occasional feature. Yanda and Carrera have already demonstrated their ability to fill in on the beat. Why, then, is it unreasonable to expect to see a Yanda/Harlan or El-Bashir/Carrera doubling of the efforts every now and then? I don't Nationals fans would balk (what, too soon?) at the prospect of having a Yanda gamer once or twice a week if it were accompanied by a Harlan feature. Ditto with the Caps.

The kerfuffle has to do with the fact that Redskins fans can rely on this type of coverage. The rest of us cannot.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 9, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

DaMan, I'm not hating on your team. Why does wanting to read more from a paper that makes us expect more means better threaten you so much?

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I don't whine about the Nats because I have LOTS of practice following bad baseball teams: I've been a KC Royals fan since 1977.
As I said last week, to all the Nats fans--hang in there.
GO, NATS! I, for one (out of about 9,000), am watching you on TV as often as I can.

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | July 9, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Also, speaking specifically for Nats and Caps fans, I think readers were a little rankled by the apparent hierarchy of coverage within the Post.

LaCanfora was excellent covering the Capitals beat. He was rewarded by a "promotion" to the Redskins beat.

Svrluga was tremendous on the Nationals beat. He, too, was subsequently "promoted" to the Nationals.

The implication here, then, is that the Nationals and Capitals assignments are effectively the minor leagues of the Post sports desk. If you do well enough, you get the callup to the majors, the Redskins beat.

It makes sense that the paper knows where its bread is buttered, and I do subscribe to the idea that the market does drive coverage decisions. That being said, it's hard to blame readers for feeling a little slighted.

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 9, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for hooking us up, Arlington Pimp!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry about it 506, forget it.

On another note, does anyone have the link to watch Comcast's Washington Post Live through the Post web site? I can never find it, I think that Dan was on tonight along with Barry, and would have loved to watch it from my desk and see whether any of this--or more likely the ratings--was discussed.
* * * * *
CiL: Nope, still don't understand what you're talking about. Hey, look! Shiny things! Over there...

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 5:18 PM

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I do, Bob, I do! I'm also a bit nervous O's Exec peed in it.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 4:50 PM

=========================================

Actually, remember the infamous pool scene in Caddyshack? Big difference here is that I didn't leave a Baby Ruth floating in the pool. It may just be, the real deal.

Posted by: O's Exec | July 9, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Here you go, CiL: http://tinyurl.com/yrdltq

Posted by: John in Mpls | July 9, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

cindy, if you're still lurking take a look at the first version of this morning's nationals gamer story that was posted on the website late last evening and then tell us that we're not justified being piqued at the post. the intern blew acta's main quote and couldn't even get the name of the park correct, calling it nationals stadium.

Posted by: natsscribe | July 9, 2008 6:09 PM | Report abuse

"Sending one of these interns to one of 162 Nats games does not connote a lack of interest in the team" -----How about two games in a row.....How about 3 in a row?

Posted by: JayB | July 9, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, JiM!

Posted by: Coverage is lacking | July 9, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, hold please. Will respond whenever I have a chance. I was actually supposed to be on vacation today, and am trying to feed tender beef spinach to a picky 16-month old.

But I will respond, for sure.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | July 9, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

vacation day = bad timing to start maelstrom. ;)

Posted by: 231 | July 9, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

The United questions would get an immediate response, the Nats fans have to wait for the baby to get fed. What's up with that?

Posted by: PB | July 9, 2008 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Bad timing, definitely. Meanwhile the tender beef spinach hits the fan, so to speak. ;)

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 9, 2008 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Great post, Dan, but c'mon. You know I've complained and wanted more Virginia Tech coverage. ;)

It's unbelievable to me that Nat fans are complaining about lack of coverage and I'm a Nationals fans. Maybe it's because I'm a fan of all of the local pro teams or follow high school, college and other amateur levels as well. When compared to the other teams and sports, the Nats are over covered(as are the Skins of course). The quality of the coverage is debatable, but it's hard to feel bad for a fan base that gets so much coverage and has so many outlets available to them. I'm not normally a fan of the Post's big writers. I think a lot of it has to do with the writers not being from the area so they don't necessarily understand what we want and how we want it. That is even more evident with the high school and college coverage(whenever there actually is high school or college coverage). I may not mind more quality complaints, but the Nationals are not under covered and it's silly to complain about quantity and "boycott" the Post. If the Times' coverage satisfies you, there is nothing stopping people from reading their articles in the first place. Readers aren't forced to read one or the other.

Posted by: sitruc | July 9, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I am forced to. By standards. Forces me to avoid the Times.

That and Leonard Downie, Jr. had me chained to a motorcylce in his basement eating banana and peanut butter sandwiches for the last four years. At last I'm free!

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 9, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

CiL, a lot of us have been on your side of the coverage thing, at least since the infamous Saslow article (which, as I recall, ran the day after a relatively consequential Nats victory in the middle of the playoff chase).

Some of us objected to repetitive posts on the subject on the grounds that NJ was not the appropriate venue. But you long ago proved yourself to be more than a one-trick pony when it comes to Nats-related posts and I think many of us appreciate your contributions (including the occasional well-placed complaint about coverage).

As for myself, I have been absent for a few extended weekend periods over the past six weeks or so, and I plead work, a funeral, a wedding, kids at camps and swim team events, and, well, at times yard work (often with Charlie and Dave on the radio) has been more interesting than many of the games of late. I try to read most everything but sometimes I'm so late to the party that somebody else has said whatever I would have said anyway.

Like the esteemed JMpls does at 5:41 above.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Actually, to be clear, in this case, JMpls said something smart that I agree with, and wish I had said, not something I thought of and was going to say had he not said it.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 10:25 PM | Report abuse

One more thing, I'm throwing this post into this thread because if I knew it existed at the time I posted it, I would have posted it here instead of on NJ:

So the Nats' doc points out that there is a "constellation of misfortune" in the Natosphere, and 214's kid amends a baseball classic to fit the 2008 Nats("Root, root, root for the Nationals; if they don't care its a shame.") Classic.

On the coverage debate, I actually thought that the gamer that made the paper was pretty solid.

Also, I don't like the lack of coverage any more than the next person, but I'm wondering whether we're staring at a new set of facts that we haven't truly comprehended yet. Virtually all print media have taken a huge financial nosedive. News for the sake of news is going the way of the dodo, hence, the Newseum. That's right, the news as we once knew it belongs in a museum.

News is now entertainment. It's not driven by what we should know (i.e., what's actually happening), it's driven by what we show we want to know, which is evidently stuff that generally falls under the label of tabloid journalism. Papers literally cannot afford to cover everything, so they're beginning to focus on the stuff that drives the bottom line. And the bottom line is that people don't buy the Post for its baseball coverage. The Post knows this. That's why they reassigned one of their most talented, dedicated writers to the Redskins beat and gave the Nats beat to a newbie and some interns.

Now, could the Post have made a different decision? Sure. I wish they had said wow, there's a new team in town, a potential niche here, let's make and investment and see if good baseball coverage sells more papers in the future. They didn't do that. In fairness, they might not have been able to do that at the same time as they are having to lay off hundreds of experienced writers, reporters and editors. So they did the prudent thing and focused their declining resources on what they saw as their core assets. In the sports section, there is only one core asset, and we all know what that is.

I'm afraid we're not going to be able to count on the Post to help us make this into a better baseball town. At the end of the day, to paraphrase Stan, the Nats will get the coverage they deserve. And right now, well, they just don't deserve very much, at least as determined by the court of public opinion.

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 1:10 PM

Posted by: Bob L. Head | July 9, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

this blog gets 10-15 comments a post normally, but over 160 when this guy writes about Nats TV ratings, someone has to be interested in the team, at least discussing them if not watching them

clearly Steinberg has an axe to grind with the Nats, his coverage has a nasty, sarcastic tone you don't see in other posts or among other people covering the Nats like Fischer

guess good journalism means less to him than airing his grievances against a harmless, last place baseball team

Posted by: Is this a joke? | July 9, 2008 10:32 PM | Report abuse

@Is this a joke?

Or at least 6 really dedicated ones that are willing to keep up their point.

Posted by: Kim | July 9, 2008 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I want more coverage of Liga de Quito! Get to it, Steinberg!

Posted by: mab | July 9, 2008 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Vacation was getting a little boring, so I decided to check in on some of the blogs tonight. Wow.

Really quick -- re: the blog posts featured on the home page (I'm assuming you guys mean the "Latest Posts" flyout with the plus sign next to it, below the "News Columns and Blogs" list), that list comes from an automated feed. I just shot off an email to the folks who run it to find out if some blogs have accidentally been excluded. I'm sure that will be remedied quickly -- we want all the site's blogs to show up there.

So many other things I could talk about, but I'll stick to the stuff I directly oversee -- online content -- and make one point: Chico is providing pretty darn good blog content. Not making any comparisons to Barry, who was great at NJ, just sayin' Chico gets the medium and has really hit the ground running. Enjoy.

Ok, back to vacation. Not sure if I'll have much time to pop back in here before Monday, but I'll look for more comments here and on the NJ when I do. And I'll update you on the homepage blog-link thang ...

Jon

Posted by: Jon DeNunzio | July 9, 2008 11:36 PM | Report abuse

FWIW Jon, that is a problem that has come up several times. I believe every blog has had it happen and later fixed for it to be a problem again a few days later...

Posted by: sitruc | July 10, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

@ is this a joke

clearly Steinberg has an axe to grind with the Nats, his coverage has a nasty, sarcastic tone you don't see in other posts or among other people covering the Nats like Fischer

------------------------

That's exactly why I read Steinberg. It's something other then that monotonous Nats coverage in the rest of the Post. I may not agree with it, but it entertains me and facilitates a response.

Posted by: Fushezzi | July 10, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Dan, your analysis changed my mind. I thought the Post covered the Nats poorly. I now know that the Post covers sports poorly.

BTW The Nats have the most blogs in MLB devoted to them. This speaks volumes about how much the fan base cares about the team and how far Nats fans have to go to get news about the team because of the substandard coverage in the Post.

Posted by: Smirkman | July 10, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

We have in this town a small segment known as the baseball geek. These obnoxious and condascending types, typlified by people such as George Will, Phil Wood and Tom Boswell, think that baseball reveals the meaning of life. They also think that DC fans should be falling all over themselves to watch (and DC media should be falling all over themselves to cover) an atrocious team in what is, frankly, a servicable but overall disappointing new stadium. In their minds, DC sports fans and media should just be thankful that MLB finally deemed the area worthy of a baseball franchise. They can't believe that this isn't happening. They also refuse to recognize that MLB gave the DC area the finger for over 30 years while the other local pro sports teams were loyal to the area and built their respective fan bases. They will ALWAYS whine about media coverage of the Nationals because they view baseball as the center of the universe and don't recognize other sports as worthy. The baseball geeks are just going to have to get used to the fact that the Nationals are on a level with all the other teams here except the Redskins. You win, you get a lot of coverage. You lose, you get pushed to the back pages. That is the way it should be and, frankly, the Redskins would be a better franchise if their coverage and attendance was more tied to their performance as well.

Posted by: Jim | July 10, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Jim, I repeat a question from above. How does it hurt you for my favorite team to get a little more coverage? Not a lot, not all front page, maybe a lot of backpage since they lose a lot, but a few more thoughtful analysis pieces not at the expense of learning what happened in the game.

How does that hurt you?

Finally, in response to the idea that the Nationals will get the coverage they deserve:

Nationals
2005: 81-81 (.500)
2006: 71-91 (.438)
2007: 73-89 (.451)
Total: 225-269 (.455)

Redskins
2005: 6-10 (.375)
2006: 5-11 (.313)
2007: 9-7 (.563)
Total: 20-28 (.417)

Again,not saying I hate the Skins, just that "you get what you deserve" doesn't tell the whole story.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 10, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

The skins went 10-6 in 05 not 6-10.

Also per my post yesterday my point is that until the playoffs (which the Nats have failed to reach) there are few seminal moments in a baseball season unless you are up at the top with a realistic change in the last 20 games or so.

Posted by: Skinz | July 10, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Not sure under which post to add this update at this point, so I'll put it in a few places: The tech team tells me that a few sports blogs, including Nats Journal, were left out of the feed that fuels the "Latest Blog Posts" flyout on the site homepage. That has been fixed, and as of 9:30 am, I saw that a Nats Journal post was at the top of the list ... one small step forward.

I am headed to the beach. Please enjoy your day and feel free to hit me with other web-related questions here, on other blogs, or by email (jon-dot-denunzio-at-wpni-dot-com).

Jon DeNunzio
Sports editor, washingtonpost.com

Posted by: Jon DeNunzio | July 10, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah -- sitruc, saw your comment. I'll keep an eye on it in the coming days ... thanks.

Jon

Posted by: Jon DeNunzio | July 10, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Skinz, I thought that sounded a little weird, too. Brunell wasn't THAT bad, though I was always a hater of him.

Skins corrected record is 24-24 since the Nats arrived, about a ten percent increase in wins from the Nationals. Not a ten percent increase in items, though.

I feel I have to repeat this over and over: not a slight against the skins, just think the Nats could do with a little more. As well as the rest of DC teams.

Posted by: Section 506 (Before moving) | July 10, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Jon,

Thanks for being responsive and fixing the blogs on the front page issue. Great to see Nationals Journal finally listed there.

Posted by: Fingerman | July 10, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

You all are aware that Steinbog added a new post on this subject, right?

Posted by: natsfan1a | July 10, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Section,

No worries. I was just saying why i felt it wasn't that lopsided.

Posted by: Skinz | July 10, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

1. Who is this "Nats" that everyone keeps referring to?

2. Is it accurate that the Sportsbog has THIS many comments and how many of them are aliases of Mr. Steinbog himself?

Posted by: dcsween | July 10, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Some posters have asked how does it hurt if the Nationals get more coverage. The answer is that there is a limited universe of available coverage in the Post, local media, etc. Any coverage that the Nationals get takes away from more deserving local teams. I'd be the first to admit that the Redskins get way too much coverage, especially when they suck. But, on the other hand, they (and the Wiz, Caps, DC United) stuck with DC during all that time when baseball took a hike. So I have little sympathy for the whining about baseball coverage. The baseball people want special coverage because they view their sports as being a major sport. Sorry, a team should EARN its coverage, just like the Caps did during their compelling playoff drive of last season.

Posted by: Joe | July 10, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

As is so typical of the media, when faced with complaints you trot out a convoluted defense without pausing to consider that your customers are usually right. They want something and they don't believe you're delivering it. Your response in a real business wouldn't be, "Look, we're actually giving you what you want, you just can't tell." In a real business, you'd give them what they want.

Of course, if you knew that newspapers wouldn't be going out of business while pointing fingers at the interwebs, right?

Posted by: Bye-bye, newspaper boys | July 10, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Hmm.

Posted by: B.A. | July 10, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

what are you Nats fans complaining about? you guys have a splash page on washingtonpost.com. you sissies.

Posted by: MNMNT | July 10, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

RE: trying to look at the number of stories divided by the number of games. Pretty much all major sports are a year round business nowadays. All the pro teams and the college teams have articles written throughout their off-seasons about drafts, free agent signings, trades, training camps, pre-season games, etc. So averaging it that way isn't particularly valid to my mind.

But if you're going to do that, for one thing you've got the DC United numbers wrong. Everyone who doesn't follow soccer seems to not realize that many years United not only plays 30 league regular season games, but also playoff games, regional champion's tournament games, SuperLiga and US Open Cup games that all are just as meaningful as regular season games. In 2007, that made for 41 games I believe rather than 30. In 2008 United could play up to 53 meaningful games, depending on how far they go in the Open Cup, Superliga and the playoffs. And yes I know this still isn't anywhere near the number of games the Nationals play.

As far as travel costs spent per team, I think it's a valid argument. At the end of the day, the Post is a business, not a charity. Yes, if they do cover the Nationals with a traveling writer, the Nationals should have the highest travel costs. But what seems to be assumed by Nationals fans is the Post has to send a traveling writer with the team to every game. Many papers, even some in big markets covering major sports teams, farm out road game coverage to free-lance writers in the road market or have associations with newspapers, radio or tv stations in other markets and just get a writer there to cover the game for them. It seems to me the Post hasn't gone that route with the Nationals even in these days of shrinking newspaper revenues.

Posted by: TH | July 10, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Washington baseball fans have not forgotten that while we were workign to bring baseball back to DC, the Post was regularly regaling us with articles telling us that we didn't need a team because we had the [BALTIMORE] Orioles. We have noticed that you put the AL standings and coverage on the page BEFORE the NL standings and coverage. You still insist on treating Baltimore's team as if it played down by the Navy Yard, or at least at RFK.

We know that the Post never wanted this team to be here, never wanted it to get a ballpark so it could stay here, and regularly writes articles about how there is no reason to be interested in the Nats, while writing paeans to Baltimore's team. (It must be the freebies at Contaminated Yard.)

We know who our friends are, and the Post is clearly not among them. It is clear that you don't support this team, don't want it here, and will do everythign you can to destory it.

Many of us, myself among the, prominently boycotted the Baltimroe Orioles due to their opposition to Washington baseball and we kept that boycott going until e Nationals arrived (and perhaps beyond in some cases.) There is no good reason NOT to boycott the Post's grossly (and deliberately) inadequate coverage of the Nationals until we get the kind of coverage that the fans of this city want and deserve.

That means upping your coverage of the local coverage and diminishing your coverage of that team up the road.

I was just up in the Lehigh Valley visiting my sister-in-law. The paper up there, The Morning Call, used to hve daily game sories on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team. Now the Valley has its own AAA team and the only time there is an article on the SWB club is when they play Lehigh Valley. They basically dropped off the CAll's radar.

The Post could learn something from The Morning Call.

Posted by: Tim | July 11, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Chico Harlan simply goes for the cheap shot with a style that is far too wordy. Not a good start for a guy new to the beat. When he tried, Barry dug a little deeper. As other posters have noted, the WTimes Nats coverage is just better these days (except for the paper not getting in late games).

Posted by: Pedro | July 11, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

That 9,000 viewers number comes from MASN, i.e., from Havana Pete, who desperately wants the Nats to disappear so he can have his monopoly back and who famously said that "there are no real baseball fans in Washington." (Which is, of course,why the Nats outdraw that team up the road.)

Nobody should take anything Peter Angelos tells you seriously. The man is not known for having a close relationship with the truth.

Posted by: Tim | July 11, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the Post ask the same questions it asked t Ryan Church about his religious beliefs to other players like Mariano Rivera and Muslim players in the NBA and NFL. I think the Post hounded Church for no reason.The paper is a force for ill in this town. It is little more than a college rag.

Posted by: David Moore | July 11, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

The big complaint I have is that the Post spends too much time covering the Orioles as if they were a home team. Take the Orioles space and use it for more Nationals coverage. The Orioles should be covered as any other out-of-town team. If you want coplaints about lack of coverage in the Post, try being a Maryland football fan. Sometimes game day stories and day-after stories are shoved way back in the section.

Posted by: Matt | July 11, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Please don't make it harder for me to ignore Major League Balco's All-Steroid Game!!!

Posted by: auto1 | July 11, 2008 11:56 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: sally | July 12, 2008 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Dan,
the reason UVa fans don't complain about the Post's coverage of UVa is that we gave up on the Post a long time ago. I can't remember the last time I chose the Post over the Times-Dispatch or even the Cavalier Daily for my UVa sports news.

Posted by: FS | July 13, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

RTD might as well type those articles in blue and orange.

Posted by: sitruc | July 13, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Unless I missed something. There wasn't a single article on the NATS in today's paper but there was a large article on the O's.

Posted by: Dave | July 17, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

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