Yesterday on Twitter, The Inner Ring mused thusly:
“Whilst we’re all going, ‘Yeah, so what’, millions of ordinary TV viewers and newspaper readers will get the Cav to Sky story today/tomorrow. It’s these people whom most team sponsors count on in order to justify their investment in a team, reaching households across Europe and beyond.”
This got me thinking. Yes, the papers will all run the story, but would the British newspaper readers of tomorrow (i.e. literally tomorrow, not some undefined point in the future – d’ya get me, yeh?) even notice it? Because it’s not as if he won a race or anything, and the move was widely reported in various sports pages months before yesterday’s official announcement. They might not give it any prominence, which would be a shame for the team’s sponsors, because as Mr Ring points out, they require the exposure. Then tomorrow (i.e. today) came along and I was able to find out for myself, via my eyes and – let’s not forget – my hands, which helped turn the correct pages. I really couldn’t have done it without these guys, and they did an incredible job.
Anyhoo, the good news is that (clockwise from top left) The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent all gave the story half a page. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of them also had a half-page ad for Team Sky and British Cycling underneath.
Which raises two questions: would all four broadsheets have given as much prominence to the story if Sky hadn’t paid for a large-ish ad which complements the editorial? And, less importantly, don’t you think the layout of the pages – Cav on top, Wiggins below – unwittingly suggests what may be the billing of the two Sky men next year?
The redtops all buried the story to varying extents at the back of their sports pages. The Sun, owned by Cavendish’s new paymasters, had the largest of the smaller stories, giving it seven paragraphs plus a pic at the top of page 67. The Mirror has four pars and a headshot of Cav at the bottom of page 56, while the Daily Star, masters of economy, managed to convey the news in a mere 65 words on page 49.
You could say that the prominence each paper gave to the story reflects its readership’s interest in cycling. But look at the Daily Mail – next to the paper’s brief, 80-word story on page 76 is a ragout of its June exclusive, “GB DREAM TEAM, Cavendish in shock move to join Wiggins.”
It was a page lead – perhaps the strongest indication that Cav’s move would’ve got bigger coverage this time round had the story not dragged on for four months.