14 February 2011

Local Coverage of Curling

As of this writing, the USA National Curling Championships are being contested in Fargo, ND.  Here at the Rochester Curling Club, we are following them intently, for one of our own - Caitlin Maroldo - is there, competing as a member of Team Lank.  Patti Lank herself is from Lewiston, outside of Niagara Falls, NY, as is her daughter, Mackenzie, who is also participating.  Team Lank is doing quite well - undefeated so far, and certainly one of the favorites to win it all and go to the World Championships in Denmark.

Discovering the information in the above paragraph is easy if you know where the USA Curling website is, or you follow Terry Kolesar on Twitter (@terry_usacurl).   Terry is the Director of Communications for the US Curling Association, and a frequent tweeter.  However, I am a curler.  I know where to look for curling news. If I were not a curling fan, how would I know that there was a strong local connection to such a large sporting event?!

I turned to my local television station websites. In Rochester, we have four.  I expanded the scope to also include the major Buffalo news stations.  The Rochester stations, save for one reference to a special curling event on the Erie Canal in nearby Palmyra (being put on by members of the Rochester Curling Club, but not the club itself), there was nothing about curling in the past year.  The Buffalo stations tended to fair only slightly better - one station had a story about the Niagara Falls Curling Club... in Canada.  None of the three stations covered this event, however.

WGRZ-TV, Channel 2 in Buffalo, does deserve some special merit here.  They have not yet covered the US Nationals, but they DID cover the USWCA Championships (which is a club curling championship) by link from a sister station in Cleveland, OH, where the event was held.  They also have a story from 14 February (the day of this writing) about the Brier, which is, for those who do not know, the Canadian Curling National Championships.  The Brier gets plenty of media coverage in Canada.

I then turned to local newspapers. Both the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and the Buffalo News are actively ignoring the event in Fargo.  The Niagara Gazette had this story about Patti Lank... from 2007.  Nothing current.  Even the Lewiston-Porter Sentinel isn't saying anything.  Neither are the tiny hometown Messenger-Post newspapers in the Rochester area.

So, getting a bit desperate to find anything, I typed the term "patti lank" into Google, and did a news search.  I found only ONE hit, anywhere in the last week - The Bemidji Pioneer, a local paper in Minnesota.   For those out there unfamiliar with Bemidji, MN, let me give you some demographics, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Bemidji has less than 14,000 people, but is one of the largest towns in northern Minnesota.  More apropos to this story, though, is that it is the Curling Capital of the US.  Both the men's and women's US Olympic curling teams in 2006 were based out of the Bemidji Curling Club.  Not coincidentally, both of those teams are participating in the 2011 US National Curling Championships (Pete Fenson is the odds-on favorite to win on the men's side, and I think he will).  In other words, not really your typical community, in terms of curling fandom.

In all fairness, the Fargo, North Dakota and surrounding area media outlets seem to be doing an excellent job covering this big event in their own backyard.  Both television and newspaper coverage are excellent there.  And, also to be fair, according to the Chicago Tribune, 70% of the teams participating are from Minnesota, Wisconsin, or North Dakota.  In those places, a quick search of their media outlets showed slightly better print coverage - however, I didn't scrutinize them as much as I did the Rochester and Buffalo outlets.

I am picking on the Western New York news outlets, because I am in Western New York.  Recall, however, that I picked on national media outlets in a previous post.  Social media has been the best way to get news on curling in the United States, outside of Olympic coverage.  Hopefully, these news outlets are just blissfully unaware of these curling event and local connections.

Maybe we need to let our local news outlets know that we want local coverage of curling.  I, for one, will be letting the Rochester and Buffalo outlets know of their oversights, and I hope you will do the same in your hometowns.

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