A Wolfpacker's Perspective

Last week, controversial sports columnist and ESPN talking head, Jay Mariotti, quit his job writing for the Chicago Sun-Times after 17 years.

And he did it with just two words in an email to his boss… "I quit." He brazenly announced that newspapers are dead and that he wanted off that sinking ship. Despite 17 years of featured status and support, he wanted out. Sounds crazy, huh?

Well, Mariotti has a point. Newspaper circulation is down and ad revenue is steadily declining. The mass layoffs are reminiscent of Flint, Michigan in the 1980s. No doubt the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the Raleigh News and Observer and countless other newspapers across the country are feeling like a cassette player in an mp3 world. With the Internet and 24-hour cable stations injecting the populations' veins with their news fix on demand, people no longer look to newspapers for breaking news. So why get a newspaper other than to house train a dog? For me, it's to read entertaining and insightful articles.

Which is why I don't subscribe to the L.A. Times (I live in LA). It blows. I can relate to a Buddhist monk setting himself on fire before I can relate to the opinions of the L.A. Times columnists. Not just a few of their columnists, ALL of their columnists. I don't get it and I don't want to (which is why I- and hundreds of thousands of Angelenos-literally don't get it).

All one has to do is take a quick glance at any of the N.C. State-oriented websites to see that practically every Wolfpack fan from Raleigh to Rocky Mount despises (or at least distrusts) the "hometown" paper. That would be the Raleigh News & Observer (and it's sister publication, The Charlotte Observer). People generally don't pay for things they don't like. I have never bought a pink button down and I never will. I don't like them. However, the solution for newspapers is simple (the Raleigh News & Observer, in particular)… preach to the choir!

This will probably make the editors of the Raleigh N&O throw up in their mouths, but they need to actually start writing pro-N.C. State articles. I know it sounds crazy (as was the notion that the earth was round years ago), but crazy ain't just a Seal song.

Write pro-N.C. State articles NOW. And not just articles about N.C. State, but PRO-N.C. State articles. Articles about how Tom O'Brien has been successful everywhere he's been. Articles about what a great student/athlete Russell Wilson is (the epitome of student/athlete). Articles about what a great story former walk-on, Robbie Leonard, is. Leonard not only secured a scholarship but is a starting linebacker (his senior year) for the Pack this year. Priceless. Preach to the choir!

"Articles about what a great student/athlete Russell Wilson is (the epitome of student/athlete)."

Don't just leave it to websites to motivate the State fanbase. Welcome to the 21st century. Think outside your baby blue box. And no, by pro-N.C. State, I don't mean the typical N&O way of sticking some guy who drew the short straw onto the State beat assignment. Putting some poor sap who holds their nose as they enter the Murphy Center and looks at their watch to see when they can leave. Put a real pro-N.C. State writer on the job. Someone who bleeds red and white. Where Pack wins and losses don't effect their nights but their lives. C'mon, it doesn't take Woodward and Bernstein to get those AP stats and quotes. But an effective writer, who can energize a disenfranchised fanbase would be unprecedented (and a smart business move). Preach to the choir.

The N&O already endorses this philosophy when it comes to UNC athletics, so why not do it for State athletics? Why dismiss thousands of potential subscribers? And believe you me, nobody will be harder on NCSU when they're underperforming than somebody who pulls for the Pack.

Take a page out of the Gregg Doyel playbook. He may be a pariah on most N.C. State message boards, but he's smart. Here's the scenerio: Mr. Doyel writes an article. He calls his mom, "did you read my new article?" She says no. Doyel calls his life partner. "Did you read my new article?" No again. So Gregg calls his boss, "did you read my new article?" "No," he/she says. "And neither has anyone else." So what does Doyel do? He goes back to the one place he knows will get a response. The well that will never go dry. He writes something bad about N.C. State. And voila. His email/phone is lit up like a Christmas tree. Doyel is a national sports writer (online) so positive reaction is meaningless…however, SOME KIND OF REACTION is everything. With one smart, anti-N.C. State article, Doyel has made himself relevant again (mainly to his employers). In a backward way, Doyel knows to preach to the choir.

But the N&O doesn't even do that. They do something far dumber and far more unforgivable. At worst, they ignore N.C. State fans. At best, they condescend to them. I'm a N.C. State fan. I don't want to read about how Butch Davis is the greatest architect since Howard Roark or how Roy Williams walked across water on his way to the Dean Dome. I'm an N.C. State fan. I don't care about anything UNC related (unless they lose). I want to read about all State, all the time. I'm a straight man, therefore I don't subscribe to Playgirl. See how that works? Preach to your choir.

I don't hold anything against all of the pro-UNC articles in the N&O (and Charlotte Observer). There are a ton of UNC fans in North Carolina. Go to any Wal-Mart and you'll see them in their full glory. But why would you alienate half of your base? You can be pro-Paul McCartney but still showcase John Lennon, too. Preach to your choir.

Throughout the years, the N&O's NC State beat writers have done a fine job of filling the quota required by management regarding Pack sports. But those articles are like the Hillary Clinton speech at the DNC, they do what they're asked to do and nothing more. They're hardly a ringing endorsement designed to motivate. Which is a shame. People know the difference between a home-cooked meal and some left over Ramen noodles and stale bread. There is only one way for the Raleigh News and Observer to keep from going the way of the vcr... preach to the choir. Trust me, the faithful always come back.

And if any of the UNC journalism alums running things there happened to get a minor in business, they'll know what I'm saying makes sense. Dollars and sense. If they don't get it, then Mariotti was right. Newspapers are irrelevant except to line a catbox. I hope that's not the case, because I need something to read on the throne and I'm sick of reading my fiance's "O" magazine (but I do feel like I'm more in touch with my strong, inner-woman now).

Stay safe and stay tuned...

*****

Pack Pride's Austin Johnson will write a counter argument to Brewster's column tomorrow so stay tuned!


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