The Blogging Beat Writer
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.”