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Frustration of reading the morning papers

This morning at 5.30, I struggled out of bed to catch the UEFA Champions League match between Tottenham Hotspurs and Inter Milan. There were 7 other matches, but obviously ESPN could only show one.

Being a soccer fan, I wanted to know the results of the other matches to see who would progress into the next round.

Frustratingly, ESPN did not show the results in a corner of the screen as the matches were being played.

So like many soccer fans, what did I do? Go online, of course.

With my iPad logged into various soccer sites and ESPN’s own soccernet.com, I kept track of all the other matches. I knew the result of every one of those 7 matches they were being played. Why, if I wanted to, I could also have watched snippets on internet TV.

It was only at the end of the Spurs-Inter match that ESPN showed all the other results. Except for one – that between Manchester United and Turkish club Bursaspor.  Why? Because ESPN was going to show the match right after the one being telecast live and didn’t want to “spoil” the thrill for ManU fans!

Now, isn’t that pathetic?

Does ESPN think fans would not know the results before watching the delayed telecast? Are they dreaming? The irony is that its own website has a live commentary on all the matches!

The same can actually be said of newspapers.

Yesterday, the morning newspapers carried the story about Canadian Air Force Colonel  Russell Williams’rape and murder of two women, including a photo of him cross-dressing in one of the many lingeries he had stolen from these and other victims.

The story was no more than 600 words long. But it was a gripping story that made Page 1 in many newspapers around the world.

There were numerous stories in Toronto’s  National Post and The Star. You could get all the juicy details in as many papers as you like, especially Canadian ones like the National Post and the Ottawa Sun (below).

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Ottawa Sun: Typical tabloid treatment. But wasn’t the news all over TV and radio the day before?

In fact, if you were an online fanatic, you could read the story well before the morning papers hit your breakfast table.

Which brings me to the following questions: Why are newspapers and TV news so awfully bad at coping with the instant availability of online news? What are they doing to counter this massive threat to their existence?

Almost every “news” story we read in the morning papers is more than 24 hours old. You can name as many stories as you like – from the rescue of the Chilean miners to 911.

More importantly, why aren’t editors thinking of how to bring a story forward instead of merely rehashing what they get from the wires?

Imagine the frustration that readers, especially younger ones who are well plugged into the internet, feel as they flip through the pages of newspapers (if they do at all). No wonder they aren’t reading and buying newspapers.

Editors should wake up before they find themselves outplayed. Like Spurs who lost 4-3.

P/S: The National Post carried the story on Page 1 as a single column. Its main image was the skyscraper home of the Ambani family in Mumbai. I first saw this photo and read the story in Forbes magazine and several other Indian newspapers and magazines more than six months ago. Are Canadians so way behind the times?

The Ottawa Sun’s Page 1 is a typical tabloid. But the killer colonel story was all radio and TV the night before.