Is there any point to match reports in the print media anymore? Jake Harrison
Match reports are the cornerstones of sport sections in daily newspapers. But they are quickly becoming redundant. A match report has two primary target audiences; those who weren’t at the game and therefore want a vivid, descriptive account of the match and those that were there and want to relive the experience or fill in missing gaps. Match reports can provide other perspectives and reactions to things that are impossible to either see or analyse effectively from the stands. But by the time newspapers have hit the newsstands, bloggers will have given a full rundown of events in the match, Twitter will be a-buzz with everything that happened, news channels will have informed viewers of the major talking points, and television highlights will have been shown, with added comment and discussion too. Of course, if the report was beautifully written, it would still be worth reading. But quite often they’re not - journalists have to file copy minutes after the final whistle and the report is often rushed. This then leads to bland, generic reports, detailing what happened with a few paragraphs running through some context. This information is barely relevant by the time we flick through the morning paper. Reporting news in newspapers isn’t enough anymore, due to the ever-increasing speed at which information is circulated. What is needed? More comment pieces. Newspapers need to comment on news rather than breaking it. Newspapers like The Independent and The Times in particular have realised this already and are upping their own game - they provide analytical features on matches and related issues instead of reporting the sequence of events that most people have already seen and read. Clearly, many readers still enjoy match reports – not everyone is privy to Twitter, or the multitude of blogs out there, or even highlight shows – so match reports won’t be killed off straight away. But that generation of non-digital media consumers will disappear soon enough. In ten to twenty years time, everyone will be tweeting, everyone will be getting information instantly, not waiting until the next morning to visit their local newsagents. Newspapers need to prepare for that. The end of the narrative-based match report is nigh.