SBD/21/Sports Media

SPORTS IS A FULL-TIME BUSINESS FOR THE OREGONIAN

     The Portland OREGONIAN is conducting a nationwide search for
a sports business reporter.  The "big gorilla" in Oregon is Nike,
but there are other important players in the local sports
community -- ranging from Paul Allen's Trailblazers, to hot ad
agencies such as Wieden & Kennedy, to manufacturers such as
Adidas, Avia, and Columbia Sportswear.  THE SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY
interviewed Judy Rooks, Business Editor of the OREGONIAN, on the
search and the newspaper's need for a sports business reporter.
     THE DAILY:  Why has the OREGONIAN decided to hire a full-
time sports business reporter?
     ROOKS:  We figure there are three areas of local business
news in which we need to shine:  wood products; high-tech
electronics; and sports business -- primarily because of Nike,
but also due to the presence of other companies, such as Adidas,
Avia, Columbia Sportswear, and the Portland Trailblazers.  This
critical mass creates a focus and energy that you don't typically
find in other markets. ... Nike is the hub of the wheel, but
there are more and more spokes coming off that hub all of the
time.
     THE DAILY:  What exactly will this reporter cover?  What
issues will he or she focus on?
     ROOKS:  In some ways this will be a traditional business
beat, because the companies we're going to cover are primarily in
the manufacturing industry.  But, since Nike and the others are
renowned for their marketing savvy, there will be a heavy
marketing component to this beat. ... We will also cover our
local advertising industry, which is not terribly large, but has
a national reputation because of Wieden & Kennedy and up-and-
coming agencies such as Cole & Weber and AKA Advertising.
     THE DAILY:  Who is your audience for sports business news?
Fans or insiders?
     ROOKS:  We are writing for a business audience.  Last year,
Nike was the top-revenue producing public company in Oregon and
what Nike does affects a lot of people's working lives -- either
employees, suppliers, would-be suppliers or other ripple-effect
companies. ... We will be covering the industry as a business,
but that doesn't mean we can't have fun.  These businesses are
something we have a cultural familiarity with, and that gives our
audience an immediate entre to the news we will be reporting.
     THE DAILY:  What does your move say about the sports
industry?
     ROOKS:  In a consumer society with sportswear, sports
equipment, and sports as entertainment, sports has reached a very
high level of public consciousness.  Everyone knows what Air
Jordan's are, whether or not they give a darn about sports. ...
Sports marketing has been remarkably successful at making these
products and these companies a part of our everyday parlance, if
not our lives.  And in the Northwest, we see a synergy developing
where there are spinoff companies coming up because Nike is here.
... There's a growing realization, especially with developments
like the baseball strike, that sports is a business, just like
Hollywood.
     THE DAILY:  How will Nike respond to this new coverage?
     ROOKS:  Nike's spokespeople seemed very receptive to the
idea.  I think it would be a great advantage to them because we
have covered them in such a hit or miss fashion over the years
and they've had to deal with a number of different reporters. ...
This is not to say that everything we write will be terribly
flattering, but I am hoping that what we write will be more
professional, sophisticated and thorough than in the past.
     PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Experienced reporters with an interest in
sports business issues, and who want to reside in "one of the
most livable cities in the country," should contact Judy Rooks at
the OREGONIAN -- 503-221-8200.
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