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.


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