We all know what most of the news is like today.
That’s even true on sports pages and websites, when you sometimes struggle to find out who won or scored the points, because so much space and energy is dedicated to controversy.
If it’s not scandal, its angry debate. Tune in any sports talk radio program, and you won’t have to wait long to hear somebody screaming at somebody about why this quarterback should be benched, or why that coach should be fired.
I turn off the radio when that starts. It gives me a headache.
Why is the news always so negative? Ask professional editors, and you will receive a stock answer: Happy news doesn’t sell. They will tell you that people want to read or hear about crime, scandal, tragedy or controversy. Otherwise they are bored and disinterested.
Well, here at Local Sports Journal, I believe we have shattered that notion, at least on a small, local scale.
We focus on writing game results and positive feature stories on athletes in the Greater Muskegon area. We believe they are worth writing about, all by themselves.
The athletes work extremely hard, year round, to improve their games and represent their teams and schools. In the process they are making themselves better and more successful people, bringing credit to their communities, and setting a great example for youngsters.
And there is plenty of exciting news to report within that realm.
It was awesome to follow the Muskegon, Mona Shores and Montague football teams all the way to the state finals last fall. It’s been fun covering the Muskegon Lumberjacks as they dominate their opposition and run away with first place. It’s cool to tell the story of Da’mari Scott, the young Muskegon Heights man who overcame a lot of adversity to make the NFL.
But when scandal rears its ugly head, we leave it to the mainstream news media.
There were several recent scandals within the local sports world, and several readers wondered why we didn’t address them. One involved an area high school athletic director being forced to resign due to personal conduct, and the other a longtime coach in the same type of situation.
Our simple response is this: We don’t do scandal. If people want to get the dirty details, there are plenty of other news services that will fill them in.
In the beginning it was a little different. A few years back, when LSJ was only a few years old, we came across a wire story about a former local high school athlete who was arrested and charged with a crime in another state. Coming from a traditional newspaper background, I decided to write and publish our own short version of the story.
That same day, we received an email from a local reader who wrote, “I’m surprised Local Sports Journal wrote something like this.”
That stopped us dead in our tracks, and prompted an in-house conversation. We had to ask ourselves if we really wanted to be like all the other news organizations and report every dirty tale we hear, or if we wanted to buck the trend and focus exclusively on our fundamental goal – to shine a bright, positive light on as many local athletes as possible, to the degree that our budget allows.
We chose to take the high road and leave the bad news to others. We figured it was a gamble, and we might be ignored by readers who snore at positive stories.
Well, that hasn’t happened. For the last few years, in fact, LSJ has been gaining in readership, as well as sponsorship from many local businesses who care about local schools and athletes, and want their stories told.
So for any of our readers who wonder why we never write about the bad things that sometimes happen in our local sports community, there’s your answer. We believe it’s good to have a news service exclusively reserved for the many positive stories produced by our teams and athletes.
My personal guess is that a lot of people like LSJ because it’s a relief to occasionally get some happy news, after being plowed over, day after day, by constant crisis, bickering and tragedy.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that a lot of people check out our work, and we’re glad they do. Despite all the ugly headlines, there are positive things in the world, and we are happy to report just that.