Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sportscasters and Sportscasting

I know it seems somewhat self-defeating to promote a competitor's book, but I did want to mention the book by Linda Fuller titled Sportscasters/Sportscasting: Principles and Practice.

I have not had the opportunity to read the book yet, but I welcome it into the growing field of sports texts. One of the reasons I wanted to write a book on sports broadcasting in 2001 was because there just weren't that many texts on the subject. Linda's book has chapters on economics, audiences, and history; it also has a practical section on how to get in the industry, which I think it what today's students are most interested in.

If you're interested in Linda's book you can find more information here; if you're more old school and want to see the 2nd edition of my book, it's here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Future of Sports Media?

A couple of recent stories (here and here) on the growth of "tweeting" among NBA players, along with Curt Schilling's retirement announcement this week (given not to the mainstream sports media, but posted on his blog) got me to thinking about the new technologies that are seemingly taking over sports communication.

I recently talked to a good friend of mine who's still in the TV business. He says his station is all agog over Twittering, blogging, etc. as a means of communicating with audiences and is pushing hard to get reporters and producers involved. That led me to a discussion with the station's news director, a portion of which follows--

Q: What emphasis are you (organizationally) putting on these new technologies?

A: More than ever we are living in a get-it-now society. Our viewers are no longer interested in waiting until 6pm to get the news. New technologies like Twitter, blogging and Facebook are an extension of what we're already doing online. Plus, these methods give us the added advantage of connecting with viewers on a personal level. That builds loyalty and can often generate great story ideas. Stations that ignore these tools are going to be left behind.

Q: Do you feel like the need to connect to audiences is more pronounced for sports because of the attachment fans have to their teams and players?

A: That's probably the case. I'm a huge sports fan myself and I'm constantly staying in touch with my favorite teams through blogs and websites. The same is true for a local sports department. Using things like Twitter gives us a chance to connect with fans in real time.

Q: Do you have any specific examples as to how you feel this has helped your sports coverage?

A: I don't think we've used it as much in our sports coverage as we could. As part of our efforts to make high school coverage more interactive we're going to want our viewers to become part of our coverage. We'll want them to shoot their own video and pictures and send them to us. We'll want them to use Twitter and get us score updates during basketball or football game. We could conceivably use the power of tools like Twitter and YouTube to deploy dozens of sports reporters to every high school basketball and football game in the area.

Q: How have your sports reporters and anchors reacted to the direction your station is taking?

A: The sports department, and the station as a whole, has been very receptive to these new initiatives. We all understand that the journalism business is changing and if you don't change with it, you'll be lost. From weather, to news, to sports, we're constantly seeking new ways to reach out and connect with our audience. We want them to be part of the process. Thankfully, this newsroom understands that.

Interesting comments, but I'm sure not everyone agrees. I know a substantial number of those in the industry look at all this as a fad. If anyone out there has any comments, feel free to contribute.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CSRI Update

The College Sports Research Institute Scholarly Conference on College Sport fast approaches (April 15-18 in Chapel Hill, NC). The CSRI announced it list of keynote speakers and there are some big names, including William Rhoden of the New York Times, Debbie Yow from the University of Maryland and former NFL/pro skier Jeremy Bloom.

The conference already has a record number of submissions and has sold out its primary hotel accommodations. (If you haven't yet booked alternate arrangements have been made with the Holiday Inn on North Fordham Boulevard in Chapel Hil).

For more information you can go to the CSRI webpage or the conference site. You can also contact conference director Che Mock at mche@email.unc.edu.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dust off those passports ...

If you're like us at Ole Miss you may have had to cut back on conference travel because of the economy. But if you can afford it ... and if you have an interest ... here on some details on the International Conference on Sports Management this summer in Switzerland--

When: May 6-8, 2009
Where: Lausanne, Switzerland
Conference Themes: Leadership, Organization and Administration; Legal Aspects of Sport; Facility and Event Management; Sports Marketing; Communications, New Media and Technology; Olympics: Integrating Success

For more information on the program, speakers, accommodations and registration, please visit the conference website. You can also contact the Conference Secretariat at:

World Events Forum
5030 N. Marine Dr., Suite 2608
Chicago, IL 60640

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sport Media position announcement

Ithaca College has an opening for an Assistant Professor in Sport Media (tenure track) starting in August 2009. Those interested should apply online, attaching a letter of application and a vita. More details below ...

Primary duties include undergraduate and potentially graduate instruction in the Sport Management program, and placement of Sport Media interns; teaching at least three of the following courses: Sport Media Relations, Sport Publications, Evolution of Sport Media and Sport Video Production. Candidates must also demonstrate a commitment to student advising; substantial involvement in scholarly activities and service activities is also expected.

Qualifications include earned doctorate in communications, sport media or a related field (including Ph.D., Ed.D., or J.D.; ABD considered). Evidence of teaching effectiveness at the collegiate level; scholarly accomplishment or potential; and professional service record or potential (this may include previous experience working in the sport industry).

Questions about the online application should be directed to the Office of Human Resources, 607-274-1207. Additional inquiries about the position may be made by contacting the chair of the search committee Ellen Staurowsky at 607-274-1730. Screening of applications will begin March 23, 2009 and continue until the position is filled.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Break

I only wish I was going someplace like this for spring break ...

Our break starts today, and I'll be spending it in beautiful Oxford, MS. I'll be in and out most of the week and will try to post a few notes. But before break actually starts ...

There is a Call for Entries for the Global Media Awards for College Sports sponsored by NATAS. Deadline for entry is April 10 and you can find more information about the call here. BEA is also looking for judges for this competition. If you're interested please contact Mike Bruce of Oklahoma Baptist at Mike.Bruce@okbu.edu.

Finally, a warm welcome to those coming to Oxford for the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, which starts next week. Congratulations to Drs. Kathleen Wickham and Nancy Dupont for putting together what looks like an outstanding program.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Reflections of Comrade Fidel

On Monday, ESPN Senior Writer Wright Thompson talked a little bit about the new technologies influencing sports media, including blogging. I was going to include more of our conversation until I came across this -- apparently Cuban leader Fidel Castro is blogging about the World Baseball Classic. There really isn't anything deep or revealing about his writing, but it is a good example of the interactivity and audience participation of today's sports media. (No words yet from Fidel on perhaps the most stunning sports upset in quite some time--the Netherlands WBC elimination of the Dominican Republic).

Fidel's blog got me to thinking about what other sports world leaders might blog about ... which led me to this ... and if you're a Texas Longhorns fan a funnier version here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Wright Stuff

Sorry about my lack of posting last week. Things at work are catching up with me, including a commitment to co-author a book on sport communication. Related to that, I did get a chance to talk last week with Wright Thompson, a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine who graciously agreed to appear in the book. His thoughts on the current state of the sportswriting industry are very interesting, especially the impact of new technologies--

"I read all the e-mails and they go straight to my Blackberry. It helps me relate with readers and I have gotten some good story ideas, but I don't let people second guess my story process and I don't try to guess what America wants to read. (The blog) hasn't changed the way I write, but some journalists feel they need to change their tone for the blog. They feel like they need to be funny, pithy or entertaining. If they can write funny and entertaining they should write funny and entertaining all the time."

I guess it's fair to say Wright is "old school" in that he places a very high value on the fundamentals of writing, storytelling and reporting, and I agree. I think we make a mistake in higher education trying to "teach the technology" by placing so much emphasis on the tools. All that stuff could be obsolete in 5 years anyway. For example, we're spending a lot of time teaching students digital editing, but a lot of them start their careers in some small market editing tape-to-tape. (And not just in small markets. A former student told me that WAGA in Atlanta just switched to digital editing within the last year).

More later ...

Monday, March 02, 2009

All talk ... and then some

We live in a world of niche sports media where audiences seemingly can't get enough of their favorite team or athlete. But that was severely put to the test Saturday by the NFL Network.

The NFL free agency period started that day and it was treated like the kickoff of a Super Bowl. Actually, there was some notable activity, including the Patriots trading QB Matt Cassel to Kansas City. But the NFLN went on the air live at Noon to give the report ... and didn't stop talking until after 6pm! I watched for a couple of minutes, came back an hour or so later and then checked back in that evening and there they were--the same studio talking heads talking about the same trade! (For all I know they may still be talking; I tuned out around dinner time). There was precious little news to report; just continuous 'in depth' analysis of the same event.

Hey, NFLN ... the season is over! Is there anyone that is going to sit through six straight hours of the NFLN dissecting these off-season deals? (Wait a minute ... this is the same network that televised almost the entire NFL Combine--guys running wind sprints in shorts--which some people found compelling television).

The only reason I kept checking back with NFLN was because they had scheduled an entire day of their "Top 10" shows, which I find interesting. (The "America's Game" and "Missing Rings" shows are also top notch).

I guess NFLN figures it has to go live (and stay live) with this kind of stuff to stay ahead of the competition. But in this case 'more' was not necessarily 'better.'