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Washington Times section comes out of retirement

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Over a year ago, the Washington Times joined a growing number of newspapers shedding their sports sections. Although Washington, D.C., has several sources of online and print sports coverage, the loss of a newspaper voice seemed to indicate that newspaper sports coverage was closing in on the end of an era.

However, the print industry continues to prove its ability to endure. On Monday, the Washington Times will once again have a voice in sports when it re-launches its section. Although some old faces will return like columnist Dan Daly and outdoors writer Gene Mueller and his Thursday fishing report, the Times sports section won’t merely be a reproduction of its former self. “The way we do it may be a little different than people are a bit used to. The newspaper business has changed dramatically and we have to find new and different ways to bring in readers,” said Mike Harris, Washington Times sports editor. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think people read newspapers like they did when I grew up.”

Loyal Times sports readers may notice that the section will be lighter, and more focused on analysis, features, commentary and the people involved in sports, as opposed to your typical straight game reporting. Today, scores can be found in real time via television, Internet and phone, Harris noted. “No one picks up the newspaper anymore to find out who won. They know who won,” he said. There will be changes, but all main aspects of metro sports will be well covered, especially D.C.-area professional and college teams.

The sports staff has already begun blogging, which will be a big part of their coverage online, Harris said. He also added that the online and print sports coverage will serve as separate entities. With professional teams in all four major leagues, Harris believes there is plenty of room for one more voice.

That’s a sentiment Andy Pollin can agree with. The sports director for D.C. ‘s WTEM-AM and host of “The Sport Reporters” noted he can see no downside to the Times sports section returning. Although from a business standpoint, he wonders if it’s the best time to re-launch a newspaper section. The additional Washington Redskins coverage is the most important detail in Pollin’s eyes. Indeed, he’s waiting to see how Redskins owner Dan Snyder will respond to the section’s return. According to Pollin, Snyder has favored the Times since the Washington Post gave him negative coverage. “I think he’s still mad at the Post,” he said. He also welcomes the return of columns he previously enjoyed and an added resource to aid him in preparation for his talk shows.

In an area with an abundance of not only professional sports, but also college leagues, D.C. is sure to benefit from an additional competitive voice. Meanwhile, the re-launch of a newspaper section provides further hope for the print industry as a whole. “I firmly believe there is still a place for a great newspaper and still believe a great sports section should be a part of that,” said Harris.

— Katrina M. Mendolera

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