Are we finally seeing the death of the sports tabloid?South Korea does not need four sports tabloids. And we may see some of them die. Last year, close to 500 employees of five sports tabloids in the country were laid off because of financial difficulties, and one tabloid declared bankruptcy.
Now, under the guidance of the Journalists Association of Korea, a task force has been created to try to save the remaining four. Workshops and regular meetings among media experts, managers and journalists are expected to take place over the next six months to find a solution to this crisis.
On the surface the problem seems to be Internet portals that also carry sports news and the rise of free newspapers handed out in the subways.
“Until now, [sports tabloids] didn’t respond properly to the changes in the newspaper market but through this opportunity we hope to form a platform to respond,” said Lee Sang-ki, the president of the association.
I doubt that. While newspapers struggle to adapt to a changing market, I believe there is a difference between the dailies and the sports tabloids. One reason the Internet has become a threat is because newspapers can’t beat it in regard to breaking news. But newspapers can provide in-depth analysis. What they fail to deliver in speed can be made up for in depth because readers still want to read more than just straight news.
In that respect, the country’s sports tabloids have miserably failed to distinguish themselves and become true sports media along the lines of Sports Illustrated.
They provide a mix of entertainment industry rumors and trivia such as what sort of dance a baseball player might like.
College sports are rarely, if at all, covered. And once the season is over, the tabloids turn entirely to the entertainment industry, feeding nameless rumor after rumor to readers who can get the same information on the subway for free.
As I see it, while there is enough straight news on the scoreboard during the season, there are a lack of features that give the reader a real insight into the country’s sports world or individual athletes.
People read stories about people because that’s what interests them. It’s something that never fails. Articles not only on athletes but also on the fans could help the papers become more interactive with readers, but all these things are missing.
The trademarks of sports tabloids are the big colorful headlines, often using cheap sexual slang, with pictures two-thirds the size of a whole page and two lines of text attached to it. Nationalistic slogans and articles overhyping the performance of our athletes abroad or at international competitions are the norm. Pictures of girls showing lots of skin are a must.
This shows that besides “stimulating” visual effects, tabloids have no strong content to offer their readers. It’s very sad.
Would anyone have the guts and put a stop to the rumor mills in the sports tabloids and instead try to write real stories? I don’t know.
If they keep doing what they do, we may see more sports papers going out of business. Nobody but the tabloids themselves should be blamed.
by Brian Lee