Leaping across the border, today we look at the New York Times online Soccer page. Sustainable or no, the Times has the sort of resources newspapers like the Globe and Mail can only dream about. But the difference here is one of degree, not of philosophy.
As with the Globe, the mainpage is littered with Reuters and AP wire reports, although the layout is much more attractive and the news more up-to-date. The stories are also more interesting if a little obvious to the non-hardcore, for example this piece on the negative effect Europe is having on Argentinean club football (hardly a recent development). Meanwhile the league results widget is out of date and the multimedia slideshows are stuck on South Africa 2010, which are again understandable if regrettable resources issues.
Better is the ubiquity of Rob Hughes, a real life NY Times writer whose in-house stories, while not exactly reliant on primary source reporting, mix in well with the match reports. Again, the Eee Pee El is overly represented here, but there is a nice bit of periphery like Hughes' report on the "softness" of the Old Firm derby in light of the anniversary of the Ibrox stadium disaster.
And then there's the NY Times' "Goal!" blog, which includes a number of other voices in addition to Hughes including the excellent Jack Bell. Newspaper blogs serve a good purpose—they give the paper a bit of traction with scatterbrained hardcore soccer readers, something they can quickly add to an RSS reader and move on. The downside is the inconsistency of the blog entries; an update on the USMNT is welcome, but is nestled in next to an unnecessary Christmastime state of the union in the Premier League. It's also hard to fault other North American papers for not featuring independent blogs, considering the cost.
In all this is a good soccer page, although there is little to distinguish what's on offer here from the rest of the football blogosphere. Again, the idea seems to be that the page is meant for idly curious Times' readers and, with the exception of the blog, not for the unwashed masses arriving from across the web. There's nothing on soccer on the Times' page you'd read because you couldn't find it elsewhere—for example, no smaller, out-of-the-way stories from across America that would be an interesting gap to fill in the non-MLS winter months, stories that that the New York Times traditionally does well. So in the end it's really just the Globe again with an NY Times budget.