The Athletic today announced six new verticals and expanded football coverage in four cities. This means the group of remaining sportswriters who haven’t joined the site shrinks even more. They can perhaps now hold the support meetings in a college lecture hall instead of a high school gymnasium.
The Why I’m Joining The Athletic pieces have become ubiquitous and fodder for so-so jokes. So it was really only a matter of time until we got the opposite: A Why I’m Not Joining The Athletic.
The News & Observer’s Luke DeCock wrote that piece.
I had an opportunity to join The Athletic, but I’m staying at The News & Observer. There are several reasons, but the most important, and the one that matters most to you as a reader, is this: I still believe in newspapers and the absolutely essential role they play in the life of communities like the Triangle, a role a sports-focused website like The Athletic could never fill.
Newspapers and The Athletic have been oil and water ever since the subscription site’s co-founder, Alex Mather, laid bare his desire to let print “continuously bleed until we are the last ones standing.” DeCock using his apparent job offer to push digital access to his newspaper seems within the parameters of the feud, if not a little jarring to those surprised The Athletic’ growth has brought us to this point.
DeCock also makes it clear that he wishes his friends and colleagues now with The Athletic success before going into more detail into the advantages of local outlets, in his eyes.
But they can’t do what we do: Cover a community from top to bottom with the kind of depth and analysis you can’t get from two minutes on TV and the expertise your neighbor posting on Nextdoor doesn’t have. There’s a reason newspapers have thrived for hundreds of years: There’s no better way to get a digest of the news than to have it reported, collated and curated by people who know what they’re doing, whether that’s in print or online.
The next content trend on the horizon? Probably “Why I Left The Athletic” essays, like those oh-so-beloved New York think pieces of a few years ago.