In the interest of full disclosure, I would not identify myself as a traditional member of the media.
Far from it actually.
You wonâ€™t see my name in a newspaper or on your local news. That is just not what I do, nor what I want to do.
I would honestly identify myself as a fan who loves to study what makes the sports world so compelling, and how it continues to change.
While most of my thoughts are related to college athletics, I believe they can pertain to media as a whole. We live in a world where information is being transmitted faster, and in forms we never imagined years ago. College athletics is not shielded from this transition.
I haveÂ observed this media world from both sides of the spectrum. I spent the majority of the last year working in media relations and concurrently as a member of the press.
Iâ€™ve seen my fair share of press conferences, both in preparation and as a journalist. I am not the prototypical hardened, experienced journalist. But I think that allows me to have a fresh take on whatÂ it’s like, and also share myÂ thoughts andÂ frustrations with what a new journalist will see when they cover their first game.
Iâ€™m not going to sit here and give you the stereotypical bullet points about the lack of money in the profession or the long hours. You know what you are signing up for, and the passion to stick with it is a must.
The Good: Â When people say they would love to be closer to the action – or more specifically the coaches and players – that isnâ€™t some false image of grandeur. You are given access that isnâ€™t shared with the general public.
If you are respectful to the people in charge, theyÂ may grant you interviews one-on-one with specific players. In non-revenue sports, the opportunities are endless for interviews as they welcome the exposure. I recommend covering smaller sports firstÂ to allow yourself to get comfortable in the media setting.
The general perks are a given withÂ the free food, which I learned is always a great topic of conversation on gamedaysÂ as to how much the athletic department will shell out for the press. Then you have the press row seating, which is generally comfortable, albeit crammed in some places. But in Assembly Hall, a good seat is often a rarity.
The Bad: Have any of you ever listened to a post-game interview and heardÂ a coachÂ or playerÂ use the phrase, â€œWe played a really good team tonightâ€ or â€œWe just have to keep getting betterâ€?
There is a lot of that in the sports world.
As a fan you may just roll your eyes at it, but in the media it is waiting for you at every turn. As someone who tends to look for what is new or innovative, there is way too much political correctness in this profession. Yeah, as a journalist you are searching for that â€œnuggetâ€ of a quote, but often you keep looking only to get some generic talking point that is ultimately meaningless.
The Good: Â If I would have written this maybe 2-3 years ago, I would have harped on about schools not treating bloggers like journalists and how Twitter is treated like a second-class medium. But in 2011, I can finally say Iâ€™m pretty happy with how both collegiate and professional organizations have allowed bloggers to be included in the press.
I would be shocked to find a school orÂ professional team that didnâ€™t credential some sort of blogger. Just take a quick look across press row, and the majority of the press has Twitter opened up on their laptops and phones, covering the game.
The Bad: While some freedoms have been allowed in the past few years, I donâ€™t want to lie to aspiring journalists and say members of the press have free rein to be creative. The restrictions range from the fine print on the back of the credentials limiting the amount of video that can be used after the game, to where certain media members may sit on press row.
As someone who is well aware of the importance of brand management, many of these rules do serve a purpose. I see why the Big Ten would frown on media members posting live video clips during a game, which makes sense as it is infringing on their product. But having worked from the side that makes the rules, much more could be allowed.
I have to be honest and say that having been on the side that controls the brand,Â often public relations is treatedÂ as if someone is watching over them ready to strikeÂ at the moment someoneÂ says something negative or does something unusual. Â I may be in the minority that feels strong enough to make my opinions known, but it needs toÂ noted when talking about collegiate media as a whole.
However, the bottomÂ lineÂ is that those in charge make the rules, and you have to respect them or you wonâ€™t be given any access at all.
As far as whether or not you should be a member of the media in todayâ€™s age, my answer is a resounding ‘most definitely’. I always encourage underclassmen to try things out, and see what happens.
That is what this crazy thing we call college is all about. You see if you like it and if not, you move on.
I also have to make it clear that as a media member, try to think outside the box. Donâ€™t write the same story everyone else writes. Find a new angle, use a new medium, have fun with it.
This is strictly one personâ€™s opinion, and your editors and bosses may question my advice to play with the rules a little bit, but that is my advice for those who are coming into the sports world with no idea of what to do. Get yourself noticed and enjoy the experience.
I look forward to the coming years and seeing how the rules will change. Think of how different things were just five or ten years ago without Twitter.
Itâ€™s a changing world, will you keep up or will you let it pass you by?