Archive for September 2009

A Breeze Toward New Social Media

September 29, 2009

In a survey done by Bob Bergland, which was cited in Bryan Murley’s article on PBS’s “media shift” blog, Bergland states that an alarming 36 percent of the 392 college newspapers in the study did not have an online presence.

That number, in this day in age, is staggering to me, and far too high given all of the opportunity available to newspapers in new social media.

Not having a website for any organization these days is a lost opportunity, and in my opinion, a tad barbaric.

In another article by Murley on this same blog, he lists 5 reasons as to why smaller schools have not yet embraced new media. They are as follows:

1. Small staffs and high churn rate

2. Instructors who don’t get it

3. Old mindsets from the students

4. Not enough payoff for students

5. Sparse resources

Luckily, at JMU, we do have a student newspaper.  The Breeze is constantly attempting to push fellow students to its web page, and even has online only content in the form of video’s and slide show’s. One such video was produced by the “JMU Breeze Network” about fantasy football.

This is a good start for the Breeze, which in mind, is still in the early stages of adopting social media.

When you compare The Breeze’s website with that of The Collegian’s at Penn State and The Maneater’s at Missouri University, you see a drastic difference in the use of new social media.

The Collegian, by comparison, has a lot more multimedia as far as video and pictures go, and also has many different blogs ranging from “between the Pipes” to “MAKE PLAYS.”

The Maneater also has blogs, video’s, audio segments and plenty of pictures, but they take social media even farther. The Maneater, in their multimedia section, has podcasts about politics, sports and general Missouri University News.

Granted, both Penn State and Missouri University have two of the best journalism programs in the country. However, JMU, and especially all of the schools that don’t even have a web presence, need to get with the times and follow the example set by these two institutions.

Much of the problem, in my mind, comes in the classroom. Many journalism classes taught at JMU teach “old” journalism, and don’t really delve into how to incorporate new social media in journalism. Since many Breeze writers come from our program, I think that is part of our newspapers problem.

Julie Posetti, another blogger for the “media shift” blog, agrees with my sentiment.  As a teacher of journalism, she understands the problems with much of the journalism curriculum around the world.

In her article, Experimentation (Not Stagnation) Should Flourish at J-Schools, Posetti makes a very poignant statement that I would like to end on. “In other academic fields, it’s cutting-edge research that drives industry change, not the other way around. In a perfect world, journalism educators would not lag behind industry, but rather would be setting the pace for educational change in response to digital transformations,” she says.


The Twitter Affect

September 27, 2009

Twitter has become the new, hot thing for athletes to use.  The more followers an athlete has, the bigger star he or she has become. Almost every star athlete has an account, and updates his or her thoughts daily, if not hourly.

One would think that the idea of athletes publishing their feelings regularly would hurt a sports journalist. Who needs to watch or read the news to see player reactions when you can look at their reactions online?

Well, surprisingly, Twitter has been a great tool for sports journalists. Under normal conditions, a sports journalist only has access to athletes for a small amount of time a day. Now, just like the rest of us, they have access to them all the time.

Many Twitter post have generated stories for sports journalists. Just this past week, Robert Henson of the Redskins tweeted about his unhappiness with the Redskins fans who had booed the team as they were exiting the field.

Henson’s “Tweet” read: “All you fake half-hearted Skins fan can .. I won’t go there but I dislike you very strongly, don’t come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!!”

This one little tweet blew up, and every major media outlet in the DC area, and nationally, picked up the story.  The DC Sports Bog picked it up, ESPN picked it up, and NBC Sports picked it up. The story was also widely discussed on ESPN programs like Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn. It also reached ESPN radio- this segment is from ESPN Radio show Mike & Mike in the Morning, which is also broadcasted on TV during the day.

The Robert Henson incident, as I like to call it, is not the only story to come from Twitter. Michael Beasley, a basketball player for the Miami Heat, was having depression issues and checked himself into rehab. Beasley made his trip to rehab known through twitter posts.

Once again, sports journalists used twitter as the start point for a story, both nationally and locally.

Twitter has already served as the source of multiple stories written by sports journalists. With so many athletes using Twitter, it will continue to be a great resource for sports journalists to find out what’s going on with these athletes at all hours of the day.

The Blogging Beat Writer

September 23, 2009

Beat writing used to be a lot simpler. You would follow your team around, and write a story for the print edition of whatever newspaper you worked for every night. Their was one deadline. One team. For most teams, one writer.

Before going in to how beat writing has changed, I feel I should provide a quick description of what beat writing is. Hopefully I can do this without patronizing anyone. Anyways, a beat writer is employed by a newspaper and their sole job is to follow that team. Report on injuries, each game, and player reactions. It is a very thorough report on a teams season that is built up over the course of that season.

Just as newspapers have had to adjust to the changing way that people consume news, beat writers have had to meet the expectations of the obsessive fans that follow the team that they cover.

One such way to meet the expectations of these obsessive fans is to blog. Fans can get updates as soon as anything with their teams occurs. One such beat writer who has embraced blogging is Jason Reid of the Washington Post. He is the beat writer for the Washington Redskins, and just like the team, Reid is currently in the middle of his season.

Reid’s blog, Redskins Insider, brings you daily posts about the happenings with the Redskins. He is interactive. Fans leave tons of comments on his blog, and he responds as much as he can. During the season, he will bring you live updates from practices and games, show you players personalities and bring you their comments, and most importantly, will link and often refer to the bigger stories he  and his colleagues write in the print edition of the post.

Similar to the Cowboys vs. Redskins rivalry is the competition between Reid’s blog and the Cowboys blog at the Dallas Morning News. Cowboys Blog similarly brings its group of rabid fans practice and game updates, player comments and interviews, and also posts multiple times a day (when in season). The thing about the Cowboys blog is the fact that they have multiple writers who cover the team adding content.  Just today (9/23/09), the blog has 4 different writers making contributions.

Newspapers are adjusting to new media, and these two blogs are good examples of beat writers finding a way to keep their readership. As Clay Shirky says in his article Newspapers are Thinking the Unthinkable, “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.”