By Joe Baird, Sports Editor, The Salt Lake Tribune
Back in the day — heck, maybe just a few years ago for some of us — we competed mostly against our rival newspaper for scoops, or a local TV or radio station if they were on their game. Generally, though, we flooded the zone with talented reporters and columnists, got access to the movers and shakers in our sports markets and delivered a product that was tough to beat for breadth and depth.
But that was then. In late 2014, the landscape has shifted. Seismically. Digital has changed everything, including readers’ desire for news as quickly as they can get their hands on it, in a variety of formats. Newspapers have responded to this demand by shifting their resources to the web and social media, be it laptops, phones or tablets, and away from print, if ever so gingerly.
However, as this shift has occurred, some new competitors have gotten into the game. And quite often now, they are the very sports franchises, college athletic departments and individuals we cover. Turns out that they, too, have websites, beat reporters and shoot lots of video. And they have plenty of resources to keep cranking out more.
How do we deal with these interlopers? That will be one of the topics of conversation when the APSE West Region gathers on Nov. 10 in San Francisco, at the downtown headquarters of Bleacher Report.
It’s still a little disconcerting for some of us to wake up on a Sunday morning and see our twitter feed jammed with game stories, video recaps and “inside access” from the contests our staffs covered just the night before — courtesy of the very teams we covered in those games. Turns out they want web hits, too.
And here’s the fun part: since we’re all now “competitors,” many of these teams and schools no longer feel compelled to open up their operations to our prying eyes. Closed practices? Check. Limited interview availabilities? Check. Restrictive policies about who we can talk to and what we can shoot? Check. Check. Check. They’re trying to save all the good stuff for themselves.
In some cases, they’re right. The Salt Lake Tribune, for instance, couldn’t get into the wildly celebratory Utah locker room last week after the Utes took down mighty USC in Salt Lake City. But a University of Utah videographer sure did, and captured the moment. Before the night was done, it was posted on the team’s website and all over social media.
Yet, all is not lost. Not hardly. We are adapting to the new terrain, just like we always have. And the San Francisco panel discussion will be a good jumping off point — not only for how to do it, but to remind ourselves that we still retain many coverage advantages these teams and schools will never be able to match.
So let the conversation begin.
Other San Francisco discussion topics will include the maximizing of our social media skills and tools; the breakdown of a story, from reporting to writing to multimedia; and we’re going to grill some millennials. What does this growing demographic think about the state our industry? What are we doing right and wrong? What do they think about our future.
So join us next month by the bay.
Here’s a look at the details and agenda. For more information, contact APSE West Region chair Melissa Geisler of Yahoo! Sports at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When: Monday, Nov. 10
Where: Bleacher Report offices, 153 Kearny Street, San Francisco
Directions:Downtown San Francisco, near the corner of Sutter Street. Two blocks from Montgomery BART station. Three blocks from Union Square. Sixth floor. No pass card needed. Ask for Mark Smoyer.
9:30 a.m. – Arrival, welcome
9:45-10:45 a.m. – Competing with teams, schools, leagues we cover. Includes discussion on ethics, access, social media, speed and accuracy (Leader: Joe Baird; Panelists: Larry Graham, Tom Moore
10:50 a.m. – Welcome students
11-Noon – Grill the millennial: What does one of the main growing demos think about the state of the industry; What are we doing right and wrong; How do they feel about the future, etc. (Leader: Todd Adams; Panelists: 5-6 students)
Noon-1:15 p.m. – Lunch with students
1:20-2:20 p.m. – Emerging media – Bleacher Report (Leader: Mark Smoyer)
2:30-3:50 p.m. – Training – Let’s get social: How to make a GIF, optimize those Facebook posts, best structure a tweet or Tumblr post and other social media tips and tricks (Leader: Melissa Geisler; Panelists: Yahoo social media editors)
4-4:30 p.m. – Wrap up: Vice chair nominations, 2015 Western Region meeting, Judging, News