What would you kill? Jocks?

Michael Fioritto was nice enough — and skilled at Excel enough — to compile results from my little survey that asked you what you’d kill from a newspaper’s budget. Keep in mind that it’s unscientific as hell and that respondents could pick as many suggestions as they liked. I need to do a proper survey and probably will at my New Business Models for News conference (this one was just a demo of Google Forms). In any case, when Michael did the tabulation, 425 people had responded and here’s what they wanted to ax:

Financial tables 43.06%
Sports section 21.65%
Sports columnists 8.00%
Entertainment section 3.76%
Movie critic 3.76%
Business section 2.59%
Syndicated features 2.59%
TV critic 2.59%
Music critic 1.88%
Book critic 1.65%
Comics 1.65%
Foreign bureaus 1.65%
Lilfestyle section 1.41%
Washington bureau 1.18%
Editorial columnists 0.71%
Copy editors 0.47%
Online site 0.47%
Top editors 0.47%
Editorial page 0.24%
Photographers 0.24%

Financial tables are obvious (which is why it’s all the more appalling that all papers haven’t killed them).

What fascinates me most is the large number who want to kill sports. I’m one of those who doesn’t read the sports section (you always knew I was neither a real man nor a real American). So I just throw it in the back seat. But sports sections are also expensive to produce — lots of staff — and bring in few endemic advertisers. Granted, some people buy the paper to get the sports section alone. But this makes me wonder whether sports should be a separate product. If it’s a great one, perhaps you could charge even more for it than you charge for the paper. Could it work as a free paper? Well, the lack of related advertising could be a problem there. Should sports live only online with the opportunity to have more media and interactivity? Should newspapers go out of the sports business? Those seem to be the questions to ask.