By: Governor Sonny Perdue
If anyone still wonders why newspapers are losing subscribers in droves, Thursday’s AJC provided another case study.
Thursday morning I found myself in an unusual position. Even though my picture was splashed across the front page, I skipped straight to the AJC’s Sports section eager to read the coverage of Georgia’s back-to-back Little League Softball World Series champions. Unfortunately, it didn’t take me very long to read the one sentence, 39-word, description of this fantastic accomplishment. As I flipped through the pages, I noticed the paper found plenty of space for a story on the Pan-Pacific swim meet and an article on the never-ending saga of Brett Favre’s indecisive future. They also had a lengthy write-up on a trade between the Seattle Seahawks and the Detroit Lions, two teams that went a combined 7-25 last year.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think most Georgians would rather read about the true heart-warming success stories coming from towns within our state’s borders. However, unless you scoured your AJC with a microscope, most readers probably missed this great news. Let me put this in perspective for you – the entire world had a chance to watch this game in a two-and-a-half-hour broadcast on ESPN2, but the AJC devoted only one sentence, 39 words long, in the Sports section to this incredible feat. Moreover, had my office not put the game on the paper’s radar screen, I doubt they would have even given Georgia’s only reigning world champions that measly sentence.
As a grandfather to six girls, including two softball players, I’ve also noticed a disheartening double-standard in the coverage of Little League Baseball and Little League Softball. Last year when Georgia’s boys’ team lost a heartbreaker in the semi-finals, the AJC devoted 529 words to the loss from a staff reporter. When the girls’ team won that very same year, the championship game received a mere 140 word write-up, and half of that story was built around the bet I made with President George W. Bush over the outcome of the game. There was even a story today previewing the Columbus Northern boys starting play tomorrow in the baseball World Series. Total coverage of the girls’ run to the championship still remains at one, 39-word sentence.
As a former little leaguer I know that the lessons of teamwork, perseverance and learning how to win and lose gracefully are just a few of the things young boys and girls take with them for the rest of their lives. In an age where professional athletes have hour-long TV specials to announce where they are going to earn their next nine-figure pay check, little leaguers play with an innocent joy, the pride of representing their town, state and region, and for the love of the game.
These are the stories that we want to read. All Georgians – our world-champions, parents, brothers, friends and sports fans – deserve better from the state’s largest paper.