The Los Angeles Times headquarters in El Segundo, CA. (@Jengod on Wikipedia.) Credit: @Jengod on Wikipedia.

While it’s not as drastic as The New York Times‘ announcement Monday that they’re doing away with their standalone Sports section and replacing it with coverage from The Athletic, The Los Angeles Times is also making major changes to their sports coverage. In particular, their printed sports section is doing away with several elements that had long been standbys: game stories, box scores, and standings. This move comes after changes to their print deadlines from the sale of their printing press, but also comes with them billing their print sports section as taking on “the look and feel of a daily sports magazine.”

Here’s more on that from the Times‘ own “Dear Readers” letter announcing this, from sports editor Iliana Limón Romero:

Today, we are introducing a new era for the Los Angeles Times sports section.

The printed sports section will take on the look and feel of a daily sports magazine, with a different design showcasing our award-winning reporting and photography. Our new layout highlights our best, most ambitious sports journalism — distinctive work you cannot find anywhere else.

We are making this change to adapt to how readers follow news and sporting events each day while managing rising production costs. You no longer will see box scores, standings and traditional game stories, but those will be replaced by more innovative reporting, in-depth profiles, unique examinations of the way teams operate, investigations, our distinct columnists’ voices, elite photography and more.

…You can still find local game results, breaking news, instant analysis, commentary and more as games and tournaments are unfolding at and via our L.A. Times app. And please sign up for our sports report newsletter at to get the latest developments delivered to your email inbox early each morning.

The LAT is far from the only paper to make these kinds of changes to sports coverage in its print editions. And many of those have been spawned by changes in printing press setups (sometimes thanks to consolidation, a long-running and ongoing issue of its own) that have required earlier and earlier deadlines for content to make the print paper. That’s quite difficult to deal with in sports in particular, with a lot of games taking place at night, and it’s led to fewer and fewer games from the previous night getting print edition coverage in many papers the next day.

But the degree to which the Times is shifting their approach here is notable, and unusual. While many papers have had to reduce the amount of recent game coverage in their print editions, and have had to put in notes about “Find the results on our website,” that hasn’t always come with this level of announcement of what would replace it. And that raises the question of how the Times will balance focusing on their “best, most ambitious sports journalism” for this magazine-styled print product while still offering “local game results, breaking news, instant analysis, commentary and more” online.

Ambitious sports journalism of the kind the Times is promising here takes a lot of time and effort in writing, editing, and design. The latter in particular feels like a new hurdle with this magazine-style focus. But it also takes time and resources to provide the more traditional coverage that the Times is saying they’ll maintain online. And it will be worth watching to see how the paper allocates resources after this, and how their new print and online approaches are received.

One other thing that’s worth noting here is that the LAT’s shift to highlighting “our best, most ambitious sports journalism—distinctive work you cannot find anywhere else” in print comes right around the demise of another prominent publication’s sports section that had made a similar pivot. That would be the aforementioned move from The New York Times Monday to kill their standalone Sports section, reassign those writers and editors, and replace that sports section with coverage from The Athletic. And that came after a couple of years where NYT Sports had devoted a lot of its focus to sports business stories, investigative stories, and features on more off-the-radar athletes rather than just coverage of local teams.

Of course, the NYT situation is not fully analogous to the LAT’s. In particular, the LAT does not have a sports-only publication they bought for $550 million that they want to integrate with their paper. But it is notable to see the NYT opt to move away from coverage that sounds like some of what the LAT may be trying here. (However, the degree of that shift isn’t clear and depends on what The Athletic coverage is used as a replacement. Amidst recent layoffs there, the NYT said The Athletic would also be shifting some reporters away from some particular local team beats to more regional or general-assignment coverage, so it’s possible they’ll also increase their focus on features,)

At any rate, this is a notable change for the LAT. And it’s going to lead to a dramatically different version of their print product. We’ll see how that’s received.

[The Los Angeles Times]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.