Monday, August 30, 2010

A Blogful of Headaches

We have previously discussed the new realities for sports reporters regarding using new media technologies. I got a first-hand look at just one example on Saturday night.

While the Cowboys were playing the Texans in an NFL exhibition game, I decided to see how the bloggers at the Dallas Morning News were handling the game. I was especially interested because the Cowboys were playing poorly, which is usually cause for complete panic among Dallas fans, even in a preseason game. As I read through the blog, two things jumped out--

--The sheer volume of people taking part in the conversation. It was a vivid demonstration of how sports reporting truly has become two-way and interactive; people want to have their voices heard. In fact, so many people were involved that the DMN staff simply couldn't keep up. A sampling of their responses:

8:56 pm
I hope you guys can be a little patient. The number of comments is making it almost impossible to keep up.

9:35 pm
Almost 1,300 in the chat tonight when last I checked.

--Interacting with fans sounds like a great idea, but it can drive sports writers to distraction. Reporters have a myriad of things to do covering a story, so their stress level is already high. Answering blog questions, especially the same ones over and over, can put them over the edge. Look at some of the responses of writer Todd Archer; he's trying to be as nice as possible, but you can almost sense that the people writing in are driving him nuts:

7:31 pm Todd Archer
Really, we're going with the 'no fire' stuff on Aug. 28? Really? Geesh. Not saying you shouldn't be upset with what's going on, but just have some perspective.

7:33 pm Todd Archer
PA Cowboys fan--you must not be able to read. I just wrote that they've allowed two sacks, had three negative plays. Try again.

8:27 pm Todd Archer
Why do we put up with some of the posts we do?

After listening to the panelists at the AEJMC convention in Denver, I made the comment that I don't think I could do what today's sports reporters have to do. Based on what I read Saturday, I'm more convinced of that than ever.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

BEA Deadline

A little longer post this time than usual, because I couldn't get Google Docs to work correctly ...

Be aware that the BEA Sports Division has moved up its paper and program submission deadline from December to September. If you're interested in submitting for the April 2011 BEA convention in Las Vegas, the information for both calls appears below.

56th Annual Convention & Exhibition
9th Annual Festival of Media Arts
Call for PAPERS

Submission Deadline: September 15, 2010

Note: The program and paper submission deadline date is the now same.

The Broadcast Education Association invites scholarly papers from academics, students and professionals for presentation at the 56th annual convention, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The BEA2011 convention spotlight is BEA:HD. HD has become a metaphor for the rapidly changing media landscape. The HD paradigm encourages critical examination of all aspects of media education—technology, content, research, pedagogy. HD offers multiple interpretations—from high definition to hyper-dynamic—and we encourage BEA members to creatively interpret BEA:HD.

BEA:HD serves as a focus for the convention, but papers are not limited to this area of research and discussion. All sessions must adhere to the goals and objectives of the interest division(s) to which they are submitted. Descriptions of each Interest Division are listed on the online paper submission site. Each division selects up to six papers - four for presentation and two as alternates – for presentation at the convention. In addition, a few papers may be selected by divisions for consideration in the Scholar-to-Scholar (poster) session.

Once again, through an online system by All Academic, Inc., BEA members can upload papers online for the 2011 paper competitions. In addition, reviewers will be able to go online and blindly judge the entries. Papers can be submitted to the BEA 2011 competition site . Papers are submitted directly to the relevant divisions as either “Debut” or “Open”papers. The Debut category is open only to those who have never presented a paper at the BEA2011 convention. First and second place winners in Debut categories receive $200 and $100 to help defray their costs of attending the convention. If you have previously presented a paper at a BEA convention, your submission category is “Open”.

Papers must be submitted through All Academic, Inc. by midnight EST on September 15, 2010.
Submission Deadline: September 15, 2010

Note: The program and paper submission deadline date is the now same.

The Broadcast Education Association invites program proposals from academics, students and professionals for presentation at the 56th annual convention, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The BEA 2011 convention spotlight is BEA:HD. HD has become a metaphor for the rapidly changing media landscape. The HD paradigm encourages critical examination of all aspects of media education—technology, content, research, pedagogy. HD offers multiple interpretations—from high definition to hyper-dynamic—and we encourage BEA members to creatively interpret BEA:HD.

BEA:HD serves as a focus for the convention, but program/panel proposals are not limited to this area of research and discussion. All sessions must adhere to the goals and objectives of the interest division(s) to which they are submitted. Descriptions of each Interest Division are listed on the online paper submission site. Click here to submit your proposal online.

Programs must be submitted by midnight EST on September 15, 2010.

Program Submission Process:

* New account: All users will need to create an account to start the submission process.
* Submit a program: Click on the link for “Submit or a Paper or Program Proposal.”
* Select a Division: Read the division descriptions and select the primary division to which you will submit your program. Programs can have up to one (1) interest division co-sponsor.
* Title/Abstract/Program Information: Follow the guidelines to submit the title & abstract and additional program information.
* Review your information and submit: Don’t forget to review your information. If accepted, this is how it will appear in the program.
* Editing Abilities: You will be able to edit and or re-submit the description and panelists until the system closes at midnight EST on September 15th.

Program Session Types

Program proposals of the following types will be accepted from individual members:

• Invited panel/paper sessions: These are the standard convention format sessions with a moderator, 3-5 presenters and, if possible, a respondent (and sponsored by Interest Divisions).
• Invited plenary sessions: These panel or speaker sessions should be of broad interest to all convention attendees and would be scheduled in stand alone times. Of particular interest are
plenary sessions related to the broad topic of ethics and how it cuts across various strands of
broadcast education, technology, production, news, and other relevant areas.
• Showcases: These sessions highlight student work in which faculty have been involved. Showcases are to be more "show" than "tell" and require preparation of audio-visual material before coming to convention. (These sessions are sponsored by Interest Divisions.)
• Technical Demonstrations of hardware or software. An equipment or software manufacturer/ vendor brings in the latest communication technology to demonstrate. Often, faculty who have worked with the technology are included to talk about their experiences with the equipment/ software in the classroom or lab.
• Workshops involving intensive training and professional development.
• Other ideas? Contact us if you have other alternative innovative ideas for program sessions, such as off-site tours or technical training at and we would be happy to talk about them.

Proposal Procedures

The Interest Divisions of the BEA significantly shape the convention program. Individuals submit program proposals online and they are able to be viewed by the indicated “sponsored” Interest Division leaders - or multiple Divisions leaders in the case of co-sponsored proposals. Division leaders evaluate and rank the proposals and forward the evaluations to the 2011 Convention Program Chair, Michael Bruce. Michael Bruce can be contacted at

Every effort will be made to give each division several invited panel sessions, a competitive paper session and a division meeting. All program slots are competitive so if information is not provided in a complete and timely manner, those program slots may be assigned to other session proposals. Priority will be given to proposals forwarded by the Interest Divisions especially those panels sponsored by more that one Division.

**IMPORTANT** Note for Co-Sponsored Panels

Co-sponsored proposals are encouraged. Co-sponsorship occurs when more than one division recommends a specific panel for inclusion in the program. No more than two (2) Interest Divisions
will be listed for co-sponsorship on a particular session. Panel producers must indicate each division being proposed as a co-sponsor on the “Review your submission information” page. Go to the bottom of the page and click on the green link that says “Add a Co-Sponsor.” Panel proposals with multiple interest divisions indicated for sponsorship will be made available to each division for consideration.

Panel Participants

In an effort to maximize opportunities for diverse participation, panel proposals should seek participants representing a mix of genders, ethnicity, institutional affiliations, and nationalities. Proposals should also seek to include participants new to BEA and the Convention. Professionals in the industry also are encouraged as participants. Please visit our “Panelist Seeking Panels” and “Panels Seeking Panelists” sites to help populate your panels.

It is BEA policy that a person is limited in the number of appearances he/she may make during the convention.

1. An individual may have only one appearance as a panelist during the convention.
2. A person may have one additional appearance as a panel moderator or respondent.
3. A person may have unlimited appearances as a presenter of competitive papers, productions
or other competitive sessions.

Take note that all rooms will ONLY have projectors and screens and will NOT have monitors and DVD and/or VHS players. If you plan to play a DVD, please bring your laptop. Right now, we will have limited internet availability. We will keep you posted as/if this changes.

Division Chairs are to evaluate the eligibility of the participants in those proposals submitted to that division. The Program Chair shall determine participant eligibility across divisions once the proposals are submitted.

COMPLETED Program Proposal Submissions must be submitted online by midnight September 15, 20

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Lesson from Little League

The NFL, NHL, NBA and NCAA all do it ... so why is Major League Baseball so reluctant to use instant replay to help umpires make calls? Maybe the majors could take a lesson from the Little Leagues.

The Little League World Series in going on now with expanded use of replay. The system is much like what is already in place for several sports--managers can challenge almost any call except balls and strikes--and it depends on the 14 to 16 cameras ESPN has at the game.

Currently, MLB only allows replay on contested home runs, and there have been instances where such calls have impacted the outcome of games. Would it slow the game down? Probably, but MLB games have never been known for their quick pace, so taking a little extra time would not hurt, and could even add to the excitement.

Change in baseball takes place slowly and with much opposition; the Questec system of measuring balls and strikes wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms. But if the technology exists to make sure the calls are correct, it's insanity not to use it. There's simply too much money involved to do otherwise. If nothing else, it may have given Armando Galarraga a much-deserved perfect game from earlier this season.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

More Paranoia

It's been quite a week for the sports media and college football. First we had Gorkgate--the firing of a radio sports reporter in Arkansas because she wore a Florida hat to Bobby Petrino's news conference. Now, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini gives us yet another instructive lesson on how (not?) to deal with the media covering the team.

Reporters watched two players leave practice with injuries Tuesday, and made follow up calls to confirm the information. That apparently drove Bo, a man not known for his love of the media, over the edge. Pelini had to confirm Wednesday night that Sean Fisher broke his leg and is out for the season. He also said backup cornerback Anthony Blue tore his anterior cruciate ligament Tuesday and is out. Pelini said he was upset with reporters who called Fisher's family and high school coach to get confirmation of the injury. "The kid was still on the [operating] table last night, and people were calling the family," he said. "That's crossing the line."

Pelini said he should be the one to release that information, so he barred access to players and coaches for three days. Athletic department spokesman Keith Mann also told reporters this week to not use the open period of practice to compile injury lists. The next step is apparently the burning of printing presses in and around Lincoln.

I get the idea that the players are to be protected because they are 'student-athletes' and not doing this for money (right, Reggie Bush?). But this kind of paranoia is not only naive, it's totally unworkable in the era of Twitter, Facebook and blogging. A generation ago, a Woody Hayes or Bo Schembechler might have been able to keep a tight lid on what goes on behind the scenes, but no more. There are just too many reporters and even ordinary fans with cell phones, laptops and Twitter accounts. We can debate about whether the reporters acted ethically in calling family members, but they were doing their jobs--finding out more information about a potentially big news story affecting their beat. If they didn't report the story, certainly some enterprising fan or blogger would.

Pelini's not a bad guy for wanting to protect his players. All coaches do, although there are perhaps better ways of handling this than a total media lock down or a Mike Gundy-type rant.
Because in the end, this mess has only created what Pelini didn't want in the first place--more media attention and scrutiny.

The truth is, teams and coaches are scared to death of Twitter and other new reporting technologies, and don't know how to deal with them. For example, the Denver Broncos have prohibited reporters from tweeting from the practice field. So if a reporter sees someone get hurt, like what happened to Elvis Dumervil a couple of weeks ago, he or she has to run back inside to the press area and tweet from there. Meanwhile, fans sitting in the stands can tweet and blog all they want.

Crazy? Of course. But that's the new sports media world we live in. Once the genie's out of the bottle, Bo, there's no way to get him back in.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It seems hard to believe that a sports reporter could be fired for wearing a hat to a news conference, but welcome to football in the SEC. Renee Gork, a reporter for Hog Sports Radio in Arkansas, was fired by the outlet for wearing a University of Florida hat to Bobby Petrino's news conference Saturday. The University of Arkansas coach made a point to refer to Gork, saying, "That's the last question I take from someone with that hat." The incident provoked major outrage among UA supporters, and now Renee Gork, a Florida alumnae who did nothing more than choose the wrong hat to wear to work, no longer has a job.

A few reactions spring to mind, namely: spineless, wishy-washy and self-serving.

Fired over a hat? I've seen reporters fired for all kinds of dumb reasons, but this one reeks of homerism. Radio general manager Dan Storrs didn't even try to pretend why Gork was fired. "This radio station is Hog Sports Radio," he said. "We are very biased. We support the Razorbacks 100%."

Such much for journalistic integrity. Yes, it's just a hat, but what about when something big happens? Is there any doubt that HSR would sweep potentially bad news under the rug to protect the Arkansas football program? Why even bother to cover the news conferences if you can't report the news? This is exactly why so many people don't listen to their "home town" outlets when they really want to find out what's going on with their favorite team.

And lighten up Arkansas fans. Remember, this is the same group that ran Houston Nutt out of town because of what ESPN's Pat Forde referred to as "thy psyche ward that is Arkansas football." It's almost exactly like a 20-year old episode of Seinfeld, in which Elaine has to remove a Baltimore cap because she's sitting in the Yankee's owner's box. Apparently, life does imitate art.

What's really ironic about all this is that the whole incident has now done exactly what Petrino and the Arkansas fans didn't want -- become a major distraction that's focusing attention away from the team. Please, let bygones be bygones ... and let sports reporters honestly report the news.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

PGA Drama

Hope you got a chance to see some of the final round of a dramatic PGA Championship, in which the 18th hole claimed two victims who thought they had the championship won. Leading by one, Dustin Johnson took a 2-shot penalty by grounding his club in what he thought was a trampled area but turned out to be a bunker. Then in the playoff, Bubba Watson took a gamble and shot for the green, but it went in the water instead, costing him a double bogey and handing the championship to Martin Kaymer.

From a media standpoint, there were two interesting issues that came out of the tournament--

1) Televised professional golf can be interesting even without Tiger Woods. Once again, Woods was never a factor, finishing nine shots off the lead. But even without Tiger's storyline, the several 20-something up-and-coming stars put on a great show. The lead changed hands several times in the last hour, and it didn't hurt to have Johnson's drama on the final hole. The PGA Tour might not need to worry so much if Tiger never regains his dominance.

2) It's interesting to see how media technology continues to impact the game. While the PGA was trying to make a ruling on Johnson's situation, CBS continually replayed the incident from several angles and in slo-motion. All the time, PGA officials were watching the CBS feed to see if Johnson had indeed grounded his club. There have been several instances where viewers watching at home have called in rules violations they saw on television.

Nothing new here; technology impacts every game, including the NFL, MLB and NHL. But as the technology gets better and the picture sharper, we're going to have many more instances like we saw at the PGA on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More on AEJMC panel

I briefly blogged after our AEJMC panel last week, giving you some of the highlights. I wanted to
give some more details in the form of quotes from the panelists. Some very interesting conversation to say the least.


Graham Watson, formerly of
Lindsey Jones, Denver Post (Broncos beat writer)
Ben Hochman, Denver Post (Nuggets beat writer)

Reggie Rivers, Channel 4, Denver/Former Broncos running back

Lindsey Jones:

Twitter has completely changed our beats. I can’t remember what the job was like before it. The whole mentality has changed. Who cares when you get it on the website? Twitter is what matters.

(Jones has 11,000 Twitter followers; on August 1, 2010 she started Tweeting at 8am and didn’t end until 9pm).

(Denver Post has hired a Social Media Editor. Dan Petty started as a 22-year old intern. Six months later he was SME).

I’m not going to tweet something I wouldn’t put in the paper.

Ben Hochman:

The way you approach the workday is completely different than just a few years ago. If Carmelo Anthony sneezes, people want to know. A lot of people care. This is the new journalism and changes the way we approach the newspaper. If it’s already appeared on Twitter, why read the newspaper?

The new dynamic is media and fans. People are tweeting me constantly and I’m encouraged to interact with them. I’m not just writing for them, but communicating with them.

Tweets are now quotes. Tweets are now news.

Graham Watson

The ESPN policy was, “Don’t break news on Twitter. That’s what we have the web for.”

College football realignment was the best example of false reporting in the new media. Ninety percent of it was just not true and irresponsible.

One thing I’ve learned is to play nice with others. We’re taught to be competitive in journalism, but in the blog world we need to share, like linking to other people’s stories. Then they will link back.

ESPN makes millions. During the football season, they get 18 million unique page hits per month. And the NFL is twice that.

You wake up at 7am and put your face into the computer until 10pm. It’s a grueling, demanding job and burnout is a real danger.

Reggie Rivers

The way people experience sports media has changed. They can tailor it to the way they receive information; the way they follow certain teams.

The relationship between the players and the media is well established, but it’s changing. Now, players have their own blogs and tweets.

We’re losing the vetting process and a degree of journalistic integrity. There’s no time to consider or edit anything. A good example is someone who shoots an interview in a locker room. The person behind them may be naked or say something profane, but in the rush to get it posted it may go unnoticed.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Going Mainstream

On a pretty bland sports Saturday night, one of the headline television events was a replay of WWE's Wrestlemania XXVI on NBC. (Interesting how Wrestlemania and the Super Bowl are the two annual sporting events using the Roman numerals).

Wrestlemania XXVI actually took place in March and was another mega-hit for WWE, with live attendance of more than 72,000 in Glendale, AZ, and pay-per-view revenue of around $39 million. But why put a five-month old event on network television when almost everyone already knows what happened?

Primarily, WWE wants to expand its audience and grow its brand. Pro wrestling is already a ratings leader on cable, especially among younger viewers. The move to NBC is an attempt to reach the larger, but older, network audiences, especially those stay-at-homes on Saturday night. NBC and WWE tried this last year with mixed results, but what do either have to lose by doing it again? It certainly gives WWE a more mainstream image, and provides NBC something to program during a lull on the sports calendar.

Both ESPN and NFL Network were carrying the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the same time slot. It will be interesting to see which carries the ratings day.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Live from Denver

Well, almost live. We're at the AEJMC convention where it's been a busy day for the new sports interest group.

The panel on 'Social Media and the Future of Sports Journalism' was terrific. Lindsay Jones (Denver Post writer for the Broncos and Benjman Hochman (Denver Post beat writer for the Nuggets), Reggie Rivers (former Bronocos player and local NBC sports reporter) and Graham Watson (former ESPN college football blogger) was a lively 90-minute give and take with a good audience on hand. I'll save some of the details for when I get back, but the highlights include:
  • Sports journalism has changed drastically in just the past two years, primarily because of the blogging, tweeting and other new technologies reporters must now use. Hochman said the entire approach of the sports reporter has changed. No longer does he/she build for one story at the end of the day. The process is continuous and immediate.
  • The work is longer and harder than ever, and can lead to burnout. This past Sunday, Jones posted her first Broncos tweet at 8 a.m., and her last at 9 p.m. In between, she had to keep up with her normal writing and reporting duties. Jones estimates she's now working around 70 hours per week.
  • The demand for speed and updating has a down side in that sports reporters do not have time to carefully consider what they're reporting. Rivers said the "vetting process" has suffered and that causes some obvious ethical problems.
  • Social media has changed the fan-journalist and athlete-journalist relationship. Fans are more involved and more demanding for information than ever; many athletes see the new media as a way to shape and control the content they produce.

Like I said, I'll have in the next day or two. The only downside to the panel was the Woody Paige was unable to attend. Woody contacted me during the afternoon and said he couldn't make it because he had to cover the breaking news in Broncos camp Thursday. I'm sorry Woody was unable to attend because I think he would have been great.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Off to Denver; Call for JSM Editor.

I'm off to Denver Wednesday for the AEJMC convention and the first-ever meeting of the new sport interest group. Thursday the 5th is the big day if you're in the Denver area; our panel with Woody Paige meets at 5pm, then the business meeting of the interest group is at 6:30. Everything is at the downtown Denver Sheraton.

One of the things I'll be focusing on there is a new editor for JSM. I'll have more on that at the business meeting, but there's also more information about the call here. Ideally, we'd like to have someone in place by next February at the latest; certainly earlier, if possible.

If you have any questions about the call, just let me know ( Hope to see you in Denver!