While the entire sports press world went nuts with LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland when the news broke last Friday, the New York Times wanted to stand out from the pack. So how does the most venerable newspaper in the United States compete in a sphere that has a seemingly infinite number of blogs and papers dedicated to sports? By looking to the New York Post and Kanye West’s marriage to Kim Kardashian for inspiration.
The Post played against expectations when it came to the Kimye marriage. Instead of going for a grand 12 page spread, complete with huge headlines and incredibly snarky photo sets, the paper went for something much more minimalist (though just as snarky as ever):
Said NYT Depute Editor Jason Stallman, “The New York Post covered Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding in very unlikely, un-tabloid fashion. You think they’d go wild, but instead they did a small, brief, very mean-spirited and snarky announcement.”
So, the New York Times decided that the best way to do coverage for an event filled to the brim with bizarre unsubstantiated rumors and sources was to be as understated and snarky as possible (for The New York Times). Hence, this was what the NYT’s actual SportsSaturday page looked like:
The highlighted yellow snippet is how much print the New York Times initially dedicated to LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland. A simple, dry transaction piece. LeBron got less ink than Shaun Livingston.
“By the end of the day [on Friday], against all the hype about the LeBron decision, we wanted to go in the totally opposite direction,” Stallman said. “Most publications had big displays about LeBron, with huge photographs and headlines. We wanted the simplest, crudest possible representation of what happened.”
Well played, New York Times. Well played.