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SPORTS IS A FULL-TIME BUSINESS FOR THE OREGONIAN
Published September 21, 1994
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.