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SportsCenter’s utilization of social media

23 Apr
SportsCenter Twitter

A screen shot of SportsCenter’s Twitter Account, taken at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

With the ever-increasing role of social media in today’s society, premiere media outlets are using the new medium as a way to communicate with other users. By linking to content, as well as encouraging conversation, these media outlets maintain relationships with their audiences. What is the most effective way to do so, however?

Twitter has come on strong in the past decade, and media outlets everywhere are discovering how to utilize it effectively.

SportsCenter. a show on ESPN, does a great job finding a happy medium between content and conversation by using Twitter. It has 5,074,524 followers, and that number will only continue to grow. SportsCenter tweets breaking news, game updates, quotes, statistics, etc., and its tweets often include either a hashtag of the latest sports trend or a Twitter handle of a prominent person or organization in sports, making it easier for users to keep up with sports news.

In addition, SportsCenter retweets perspectives and content from its reporters and analysts who also have Twitter accounts, such as NFL analyst Adam Schefter and College Gameday’s Chris Fowler. In doing so, users who follow SportsCenter have easy access to other media members, allowing them to read their content and follow their Twitter feeds as well.

SportsCenter’s Twitter feed is especially helpful by encouraging conversation with its viewers. For example, one of SportsCenter’s tweets reads, “OK, now who’s the best No. 1 overall QB draft pick of all time? Use #TopQBPick to answer; YOUR tweets could air & help rank our Top 5.” To go along with this tweet, SportsCenter has another that asks about the worst quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. After tweeting interactive questions, SportsCenter’s Twitter feed explodes with responses by fans across the country who are hoping for their tweets to be televised.

This is a genius idea regarding the optimization of social media use. It increases the interaction between the every day fan and the big-time media giant. I have had one of my tweets aired on SportsCenter and answered by NFL analyst John Clayton.

“Still nothing from the #Packers in free agency. Will they manage to sign Steven Jackson and/or Greg Jennings? #FanForum”

The anchor mentioned me by name, too. It was a surreal experience. That’s the reason why many SportsCenter followers engage in those opportunities. The thought of having a tweet aired on national television is significant to the average fan.

Perhaps the most-viewed portion of SportsCenter is its Top 10 Plays segment. It uses Twitter to ask fans what they think should be the top play of the day.

Clearly, it is SportsCenter’s goal to use Twitter to increase interaction with fans and lead more people to watch the show on a daily basis. It is an essential aspect of SportsCenter’s strategy, because increased viewership means increased revenue. Overall, SportsCenter is doing a great job accomplishing its goals.

SportsCenter was already a massive media outlet prior to the coming of social media and the digital age. That being said, it will thrive even more if it continues to utilize social media to interact with reporters, players, organizations, and most importantly, sports fans everywhere.

Which media outlet do you believe encompasses the proper use of social media?

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Monetization of media: news as a commodity and a public right

6 Apr

Is news a commodity? Is it a public right? Or is it both? One thing is for certain: the monetization of digital news is becoming more prevalent every day.

In Matthew Ingram’s article, “The monetization dilemma for media: Paywalls on one side, advertising on the other,” he discusses the ever-increasing search for an effective method to generate revenue in the online market. He mentions that the Washington Post will release a paywall of its own sometime this year.

“It’s a dilemma that almost every media entity, large or small — both digital and non-digital — is struggling with, as advertising continues to decline and no new source of revenue has emerged to take its place,” Ingram writes.

As revenue becomes more of a focal point for news outlets, news distances itself from being simply a public right.

In his article, “News as a Commodity,” Terry Heaton argues that media is becoming more of a commodity.

“The point is that media itself is being commoditized and, along with it, the content it provides,” Heaton says. “This is a key fruit of the personal media revolution, and already the economics of media are shifting in response. No longer can news content alone carry the burden of supporting the specialized infrastructures and distribution models of media of the past. No longer is “news” sufficient to justify subscriber fees or high dollar ad models, because consumers are increasingly deciding that it’s all the same.”

He mentions how last year CNN dropped its pay-per-view service in favor of an ad-supported model because it was not producing the amount of revenue CNN had hoped for.

In “Is Media Becoming a Commodity,” Mike Sweeney supports the premise that news is becoming more of a commodity. He uses the beliefs of others to further enforce this idea.

“The buying business has become much more commoditized,” [Michael Roth] emphasized, “and when you’re dealing with any commodity, the key component of that is are you getting the better price. If there’s a competitor out there that can provide a better price, then quite frankly, we don’t get the business.”

Roth is the Chairman/CEO of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

There is a transition taking place; one that is revoking news as a public right and turning it into a commodity.

A commodity is something that can be bought or sold. In this case, ad space is being purchased by advertisers, while it is being sold by online news sites. News is a public right as well. It is important for the public to educate itself about current events. People deserve to know what is happening in the world, but due to the inability for online news outlets to generate significant revenue, news is becoming more of a paid commodity than it has ever been before. Nowadays, it is hard to find news without having to subscribe or pay for content.

News is still, in fact, a public right. However, it is becoming more of a commodity because of recent monetary difficulties.

What do you think is the role of the news?

 

Story time not only for kids

5 Mar
Truman Capote

Truman Capote sitting comfortably. He is one of the most well-known narrative journalists. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Everyone loves a good story. Or so we’re told. There once was a time during the 20th century when people adored narrative journalism – with its long stories, character development and various scenery. It changed the perception of the journalism industry for readers and writers alike. Change; it is an all-too-familiar word in journalism, and perhaps it is the reason narrative journalism is becoming a dying art form. Let’s hope not. Journalists like Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Gay Talese made a living by using their unique storytelling abilities. Magazines and newspapers, particularly the New York Times and the Washington Post, featured stories with elaborate detail and development.

Then, the journalism industry changed yet again, paving the way for digital journalism and online news consumption, ever changing the way readers obtained their information. Sites such as buzzfeed.com, Gawker and huffingtonpost.com are taking away narrative journalism’s thunder, featuring shorter, simpler stories that are more reader-friendly. In today’s society, clicks and online traffic determine the success of an online news outlet, thus essentially making long-form narrative journalism a thing of the past. The shift to digital journalism is jeopardizing the future of narrative journalism. Outlets do exist for readers to get their hands, or eyes, on narrative journalism stories, but the revenue is not there.

In “The Sequester Is Terrible For Traffic,” McKay Coppins, a staff writer for buzzfeed.com, says there is little demand for the recent sequestration headlines, simply because people do not understand the concept and do not want to spend their time reading about it.

Sam Stein, political editor for the Huffington Post, says, “I’d give you a quote about the traffic generated by sequestration stories, but will anyone click on your sequestration-related story and read it?” Coppins included in his article that “a poll found that just 27 percent of Americans have heard a lot about the mandatory spending cuts to take place next week.” As it relates to narrative journalism, today’s readers do not want to engage in a lengthy, lack-luster story that might do nothing but confuse them and waste their time. For example, a scoop about Paul Ryan blaming spending cuts on President Obama received around 4,000 page views, whereas a story about how government contractors are responding to the cuts received nearly half as many views.

“The biggest problem, though, is that the sequester fight basically defines the kind of political story that is only of interest to the people who are paid to be interested,” said Gabriel Snyder, editor of The Atlantic Wire. “There are lots of people interested in politics. There are far fewer interested in political theater.”

If the interest is not there, people will not want to consume news, let alone pay for it.

“It’s clear we need a new business model when it comes to media, but it’s been unclear what that model will be,” says NPR Planet Money’s Zoe Chace in the story, “Can Andrew Sullivan Make It On His Own?” This is the center of conflict for digital journalists. Sullivan is attempting to reach out to his followers to earn enough money to keep his blog going. No one knows how to make money online. Of course, money is generated by clicks, but what leads to those clicks?

“You can get even more viewers, more traffic, volume, volume, volume… and how do you get volume? Two words: celebrities and sideboobs,” says NPR’s Robert Smith.

Will readers pay for online news stories? That is the million dollar question, no pun intended.

In “OurBlook Roundup: Journalism Will Survive in Digital Age” by Sandra Ordonez on pbs.org, Ordonez gathers quotes from journalists trying to solve the industry’s problems. As it relates to journalism in the digital age, some journalists believe the style of reporting has changed.

“To date, newspapers have, for either the strangest or most inexplicable reason, chosen to either downplay or ignore their strengths: Reporting and writing. Newspapers have a virtual monopoly on those two attributes. ‘Aggregating,’ and its tedious synonyms, is not reporting nor is it writing; it’s cutting and pasting,” says Bruce Austin, professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Austin makes a valid point. In today’s digital age, many reporters are taking content from other journalists and pasting it onto their sites in hopes of their content receiving more clicks and more revenue. There is not nearly as much original reporting as there was many years ago, and the digital format is to blame. Journalists today may be lacking the creativity and/or the raw ability that journalists possessed in the past. Narrative journalism is a great example of those two characteristics, but it seems to be fading away.

In his blog post, “Verification doesn’t threaten narrative journalism,” Director of Community Engagement & Social Media at Journal Register Co. Steve Buttry discusses his own journalism experiences and reflects on narrative journalism.

“Verification in narrative doesn’t have to grow from suspicion, just from a commitment to learning the story and getting the facts right, even those details,” Buttry says.

In this respect, narrative journalism may indeed by in trouble. Because of the digital age, journalists place less emphasis on getting the facts and details right, which Buttry says are important components in narrative journalism.

“See, here’s the point about narrative journalism: Your first job is to learn the full story, wherever it takes you,” Buttry says.

Buttry talks about the Manti Te’0 hoax and how that presented a great opporunity for narrative journalism. Many writers did not take advantage of it.

“Narrative journalists learn and tell stories, and the sportswriters who swallowed the story of [Te’o’s] girlfriend’s death didn’t bother to learn the story of the girlfriend they thought existed and as a result failed to learn and tell the story Deadspin told about their gullibility,” Buttry says.

While the future of journalism appears to be strictly digital and much lies in question, there is always room for quality storytelling. After all, there are many stories waiting to be told. It is just a matter of finding a journalist dedicated enough to present them.

What are your thoughts about narrative journalism itself and its role in the digital age?

Blog Review: Chicago Blackhawks

22 Feb

The blog I will be reviewing is the Chicago Blackhawks blog through ESPN.com. Being a Blackhawks fan, I read this blog to learn about the latest team news. I will be taking a closer look at the blog to determine its strengths and weaknesses compared to other news outlets.

ESPNChicago (Blackhawks Blog)

A screen shot of the Chicago Blackhawks blog. The blog runs through ESPN Chicago, and its main contributor is Scott Powers. Credit: http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/blackhawks

Nuts and Bolts:

  • The blog follows a traditional format, with most recent stories appearing first. On the right side of the page, there are features such as the next game, including links to tickets, a game preview and conversation. There are a couple advertisements, such as a download of ESPN Radio and finding a local bar. There is a brief “About This Blog” section, which talks about the blog’s primary journalist, Scott Powers. He is “an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997. He has been a reporter for ESPNChicago.com since 2009.”
  • There are menus for categories and the blog’s archives, as well as a “Recent Updates” section which lists the most recent publications. In addition, there is a Twitter feed with access to latest news and updates. A schedule of upcoming games and team leaders for certain statistics are included as well. Other team resources — such as schedule, stats, roster, rankings, transactions, tickets and forum — are on the right side, too. It appears as if the blog is mainly supervised by Powers, but because it is run through ESPNChicago.com, I would think he receives assistance with editing, multimedia, etc.
  • Powers posts on the blog on a daily basis. Most days, he will post about three stories.

Tone and Language:

  • Powers uses simple language and targets Blackhawks fans, mainly those who are up-to-date with the team. He views his audience as educated, and his insights provide readers with further knowledge about the team. Some stories are long. Others are short. It all depends on the significance of the story and how many details the reader needs to be fully informed. He includes many names, statistics and other information to familiarize readers with the players, coaches and team in general.
  • For example, in his brief article about Goaltender Corey Crawford backing up Ray Emery against the Sharks, Powers says, “Crawford has missed the Blackhawks’ last three games due to an upper-body injury. He is 7-0-3 with a 1.65 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage this season. Emery will be making his fourth consecutive start. He has a 6-0-0 record with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage this season.” This provides the readers with information enabling them to compare the two goalies and make their own assumptions as to how the team will be affected.

Use of Multimedia:

  • Powers uses various forms of multimedia, including text, video and photos, although most of his content is text-heavy. Powers includes links that say, “Read the entire story,” taking readers to a location where they have additional content at their disposal. Multimedia typically enhances posts, but Powers relies on his words to help readers understand the main point of the story. His use of multimedia is rather dispersed, and he uses it as a tool to add more insight and perspective to stories that are hard to describe using only words.

Comparison to Competition:

  • Because ESPN is the most prominent media outlet in the sports world, Powers does a good job reporting stories in a timely manner. However, other sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, beat Powers to the news in many instances. Social media has the upper hand for breaking news stories. For example, the news about Marian Hossa being available for tonights’ game against the Sharks was released on Chicago Blackhawks Nation’s Facebook page before it was reported on the blog. That being said, Powers reported that Steve Montador has practiced with the team for the first time this season, and the Chicago Blackhawks Twitter feed did not even report that.
  • Powers’ stories include more in-depth reporting and have more credibility than either Facebook or Twitter, both of which report the initial news quick but without further details. Twitter is better for in-game updates, while the blog is better for post-game analysis. They work together to give Blackhawks fans everything they need to know. In comparison to other sites, like secondcityhockey.com, there is not a noticeable difference between which is the first to report a story. Both do a good job with in-depth reporting and consistent delivery to their respective readers.

In conclusion, the Chicago Blackhawks blog through ESPNChicago.com is an effective outlet that provides reliable news. Its only problem is social media often breaks news stories before it, but it makes up for the issue with more detail in later reports. The battle against social media is to be expected with any blog. Overall, this blog is a great way to consume news about the Chicago Blackhawks.

A digital revolution

15 Feb
Digital Media Outlets

Digital media icons. Digital media is changing the role of the journalist. Credit: bestpsdfreebies.deviantart.com

There once was a time when the future of journalism appeared grim. Now, it could not be more bright.

With a wide variety of media at our disposal and an overabundance of information at our fingertips, journalistic practices and tendencies are changing. In the long run, it may be for the better. The Internet is responsible for altering the ways in which our brains function, thus affecting the way journalists approach their readers. Journalists must be prepared for change.

In “Is Google Making Us Stupid,” Nicholas Carr discusses how reading habits in print differ from those online. Print readers often consume content on a more in-depth level, engaging in the story. Online readers typically skim or browse a number of different stories. Because of the efficiency and immediacy of online media, it weakens our ability to “deep read.”

In “The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete,” Chris Anderson says that the great deal of data online changes our perception of the world. As it relates to Carr’s article, Anderson says Google’s founding philosophy is that we do not know why one page of information is necessarily better than another. This leads to our inability to determine which information is credible or not credible, making us “stupid,” so to speak.

In “New Rules” by Thomas Friedman, he claims that “technology and globalization are wiping out lower-skilled jobs faster, while steadily raising the skill level required for new jobs.” I find it difficult to argue with his idea. It is a given that the world is changing right before our eyes, and new patterns are emerging. Journalists have to work longer and harder to do their job effectively.

The three articles above bring me to the main question: What is the role of the journalist in today’s society?

In “Rethinking the Role of the Journalist in the Participatory Age,” Alfred Hermida admits that defining who is a journalist in today’s society is a difficult question to answer. Questions such as “Who is a journalist?” and “What is journalism?” are open to an individual’s interpretation, simply because the field is more involved than it has ever been before.

In “Changing journalism, changing Reuters,” David Schlesinger discusses the loss of value and respect in the journalism field, stating that more than half of Americans do not trust mass media to do what has always been its primary goal – to report the truth. There was once a time where most news organizations stressed the accuracy of a news story over its immediacy. That was before the technological revolution of today. Now, while accuracy is still the most important attribute of a story, far more emphasis is placed on being the first to report a breaking news story. Competition in the journalism field is fierce.

The journalist’s job is far more complex than it has been in past years. He or she must be able to report the truth quickly and be able to use various technologies to provide audio and video content. It is not a world for the weak. Truth is, until the technological revolution slows down, which may not be for some time, it will be fairly difficult to cast journalists into a specific role because they are constantly adapting to change.

What do you think is the role of the journalist?

Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII

8 Feb
Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco

Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco holding the Lombardi Trophy. Flacco was named Super Bowl XLVII MVP, completing 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and 3 touchdowns. Credit: Sportsunbiased.com

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII, 34-31. The Ravens dominated the first half. Jacoby Jones added a 108-yard kick return touchdown to begin the second half, a Super Bowl record. The Ravens led by 22 points. The largest deficit a team has ever overcome to win the Super Bowl is 10 points. The game was essentially a lock for the Ravens. Then the lights went out in the Superdome.

The 34-minute power outage slowed the Ravens’ momentum and gave the 49ers an opportunity to make a comeback. The 49ers overcame a 17-point deficit to win against Atlanta in the NFC Championship game two weeks before, so another second-half surge was not unthinkable. When play continued, the 49ers scored 17 unanswered points in less than 4 1/2 minutes. The Ravens appeared to be letting the game slip away, especially after a Ray Rice fumble that led to a field goal for the 49ers. In the end, the 49ers could not muster enough points to beat the Ravens.

News and Notes from the game:

  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco gave himself a great deal of praise at the beginning of the season, calling himself the best quarterback in the NFL. With a Super Bowl title, and playoff wins against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady this postseason, Flacco may indeed be relevant in the “Elite QB” conversation.
  • Ravens head coach John Harbaugh faced his younger brother, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, on the game’s biggest stage.  This was the first time two siblings coached against each other in the Super Bowl.
  • The 49ers lost their first Super Bowl in six appearances. They have won five Super Bowl titles and trail only the Pittsburgh Steelers for most championships in the Super Bowl era with six.
  • To conclude his impressive 17-year career, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis walked off the field for the last time as a Super Bowl champion. Lewis is arguably the best linebacker to ever play in the NFL. His 13 Pro Bowl appearances, Super Bowl MVP in 2000 and NFL All-Decade honors provide a strong argument for a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • During Media Day, 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss said he is the best receiver to ever play the game. Former 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice, who is now an ESPN NFL analyst, holds all-time records with 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns, not to mention three Super Bowl rings. Moss claims he does not care about statistics but the impact a player makes on the field. Sorry, Randy. Rice wins this one.
  • After an unimpressive finish to the regular season, the Ravens entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the AFC. With games against the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round and AFC Championship, respectively, the Ravens were written off as Super Bowl contenders. A few weeks later, the Ravens are standing atop the football world with the franchise’s second Lombardi Trophy. Who would have thought?

Super Bowl XLVII had everything a football fan could want. Brothers faced off. Points were scored. Records were broken. Legends were made.

The offseason has begun. Who is your pick for Super Bowl XLVIII?