By Tim Stephens
John Bednarowski is the award-winning sports editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal and serves as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors. He recently answered 3 Questions for INFLCR, a platform for sports team properties to store, track and deliver their content across their influencer network of athletes, former athletes, media, etc.
1. In your role as president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, what do you see as the major challenge facing college athletics and the relationship it has with traditional media outlets such as newspapers?
The most challenging thing I see with covering college athletics is access. Nearly every major Division I college is using its website as a news site now. That is all fine if you are a fan and only want good news, but to get the complete story, traditional beat writers are still needed.
That said, the writers are finding fewer opportunities to talk with coaches, players and administrators, and with that, every little thing is getting reported. With more access, writers could do more in-depth pieces instead of some of the feed-the-beast stuff that is done now, and it’s usually the feed-the-beast stuff that irritates the coaches and administrators that then curtail our availability even more.
2. In what ways has social media changed the job descriptions for sports reporters and editors?
Social media is a double-edged sword. It is great for getting the word out and getting stories in front of our readers. The overwhelming way our readers get their news these days is through social media — via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and our analytics show that.
It is also great for mining story ideas, like recruiting, or community service type acts. However, it concerns me when a writer is asked to blog, chat, and tweet while they are at a game or some other event. How can you watch what is going on if your head is always looking at a screen?
Outside of journalism, and I say this only slightly tongue-in-cheek, social media is going to be the end of our society as we know it. There is no civility, and I personally try to limit my use of it.
3. What trend or issue do you see facing college athletics that will receive much more media coverage in the coming years?
It is going to be interesting to watch college football over the next decade for two reasons — gambling and the new four-game redshirt rule.
As states bring sports betting to their residents, the NCAA, like the NFL, NBA and MLB, are all going to want their share of the pie. How the gaming industry is regulated, and to what extent will be interesting to watch.
The redshirt rule is already showing to have some interesting unintended consequences. Players like Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant transferring because he lost his starting job. I can see many more athletes doing the same thing — only it won’t be just for seniors. I think sophomores and juniors will really start to use this rule as a type of college free agency if they aren’t happy with their playing time.