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Throughout the world there are thousands of daily newspapers and far more semiweeklies, biweeklies, and weeklies, circulating millions of copies on a regular basis. In the international context, the average newspaper is usually heavy with sensational news, light on serious criticism, and burdened by all types of problems (especially economic). Outside Western Europe and North America there are very few ultra-serious newspapers. Most of the world's newspapers are privately owned, but some degree of government control is evident in many countries.

Magazine journalism has been a potent force in the United States (and internationally) for decades, appealing mainly to the elite, the well educated, and opinion leaders. At least this is true in the sense of "journalistic" magazines. Generally more incisive, more articulate, and more interpretive and comprehensive than newspapers, magazines have supplied an important intellectual dimension to news-oriented journalism. Whereas the main function of newspaper journalism is to inform or summarize in brief fashion, the aim of most magazine journalism is to fill gaps—to explain, interpret, criticize, and comment. Magazine journalism in its many types and styles supplements newspapers and fleshes out the bare bones of newspaper journalism.

Most magazines and newspapers have sections that focus on sports; others, such as Sports Illustrated, focus entirely on sports reporting. In either case, sportswriters are needed to write articles about athletes, teams, and sports competitions. Sportswriters are employed by both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States.

Today, the growth of the Internet and social media have created increasing opportunities for sportswriters to publish their work on blogs, newspaper and magazine Web sites, and other digital venues.

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