What does a newspaper do when it has a big story on Day 1?
It looks for ways to carry forward the narrative on Day 2. While your competitors are scrambling to catch up, or trying to knock down your story, you push it even further along.
So, for this morning’s newspaper, we had David Beckham and Sheikh Mansour, owner of Manchester City and chairman of the UAE club Al Jazira, in the same room the previous night.
And what do we do to expand the story further, for tomorrow?
I think this is one of the great tests of print. X has happened. How do you broaden and reinforce the story, and give it more context, the next day?
We went with three concepts.
1. A think piece on how Beckham would fit in … in the league, in the team, in local football history. The story starts with the recollection of the ruckus created in January of 2009, when Beckham spent a week in Dubai while on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy to AC Milan. The Italian club came to the UAE for a winter camp, and fans here pretty much ignored everyone else on Milan’s team.
2. An opinion/color piece, in which I recalled the excitement when Beckham was introduced by the Galaxy, in 2007. I was there for that, and it made an impression on me. I also buttresses the piece with attendance numbers — up 14 percent since he joined the league. And also, check this: The league had 12 teams when Becks arrived in Major League Soccer, 19 when he left.
3. And the hard news piece. In a perfect world, our reporter goes down to the Al Jazira’s stadium and someone there tells him, “Yes, David Beckham was here today and looked at the facilities.” We couldn’t find anyone to say that. Instead, we gave the club a chance to express their agitation at the hubbub our story in the paper that morning had caused. (And, really, I envisioned that the media relations guy answering the phone all day and denying the story … is also completely out of the loop.) We printed their guy insisting it was one huge coincidence that Beckham was in Abu Dhabi, and that it had nothing to do with playing for Jazira.
(And we could note that the third story, at the very end, has a non-denial-denial from the Jazira coach — who most certainly could use David Beckham, given that one of Jazira’s new foreigners, a Brazilian attacking midfielder, is a bust.)
If the story gains enough momentum, then you come back with the third-day package. And then what you suggest will happen does happen, you feel proud for having followed it all the way in.
David Beckham in the UAE. It could happen. Jazira’s media guy just doesn’t know it yet.