The Need for Speed: How Readers Get News is Affecting the Way Sports Journalism is Reported and Written

Over the last ten years, the way fans get news about their favorite sports’ team has changed considerably. Gone are the days when people had to wait for the morning newspaper so they could read a sports article about what happened to their team. Today, people are getting news from different mediums.

What has replaced the old model of gathering news for printed newspapers is the increased role of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging. People want news as fast as possible. They want to know what’s going on all the time, so reporters and writers have to do everything they can to make that happen, or they’ll lose readers and interest.

In addition, digital media is a tool that’s becoming very commonplace with reporters too. They’re using phones or a personal camera to make video and pictures of their subjects.

The catch to this new form of journalism is that putting together a project with video, audio, pictures and a written story can be done fairly fast depending on the size, and it’s usually done by one person. Unlike writing for a printed publication, a reporter personally edits what he or she has, and uploads it almost immediately onto an online blog or social media platform.

This is the direction that sports journalism is going in. The use of social media, blogs and digital media has affected and changed the way sports journalism is written and reported on. It’s all about getting news out quickly and efficiently before anyone else does.

“[Blogs] also allows for immediacy,” said Paul Flannery, an NBA writer for the sports blog SB Nation and former Boston Celtics writer for sports radio WEEI in Boston. “When I used to cover Celtics’ practices, I would turn around the basic nuts and bolts of the day in a couple of hours, and that wouldn’t be the kind of thing that would show up in your newspaper until 16 hours later, but it would already be up on our site.”

What Flannery means by “nuts and bolts” is that he could post news quickly about what players were hurt, who was going to play in that night’s game, who was mad, and what quotes were being said in the matter of hours. That’s something, which is completely different and couldn’t be done by someone writing for a printed newspaper.

Chris Forsberg, a Celtics writer for ESPN Boston, is one of the top, young and up-and-coming sportswriters in Boston. He writes game analysis, and game reactions for his blog on ESPN Boston. He said social media has changed a lot in the way sports news is reported on.

“[With social media] it helps facilitate how quickly we can distribute the news because of the 24-hour news cycle,” Forsberg said. “Essentially you got news you don’t want to wait to put in the newspaper anymore. There’s no more waking up to the news. You got to get it out there quickly whether it’s through Twitter, blogging or Facebook so that people can react to it.”

In fact, Forsberg said one of the best social media platforms in general for covering the Celtics is Twitter.

“Everything goes through Twitter now regardless of whether it’s a reporter breaking a story or it’s a player saying something,” Forsberg said. “Reporters would’ve called us crazy if you told us 20 years ago that a lot of stories, or a lot of what the athlete is thinking, would come through this 140 character site. It’s always intriguing to watch.”

In addition, he said that the one thing that social media and Twitter has done is foster a great sense of community with readers.

“You now have to have an audience,” Forsberg said. “You put the news up and you not only tell people about it, but now you’re getting them to react to [it] and to get outsider opinion, which sort of [starts] the conversation.”

It’s also interesting to note that Forsberg said players might not always be straight with reporters on camera. Instead, they might post interesting tweets by voicing their opinion about an incident, or something that happened during a game. Tweets like that could lead to another story too.

Jimmy Toscano, a Celtics and New England Patriots’ writer for Comcast Sports Net New England (CSNNE) and a blogger for CelticsBlog.com, went along the same lines as Forsberg, and said Twitter is very important for a reporter.

“If you don’t have a Twitter account, I suggest you get one,” Toscano said. “That’s the first place to get news today. I have a Twitter account and I follow [a] wide range of people that I get news so quickly compared to when it’s up on a website. [Twitter] really is the first place to get news depending on who you follow and what type of news you’re looking for.”

Toscano continued by saying if a story isn’t ready to be published, but there’s important information to get out there then tweeting is important. He said having your name attached to breaking news is important, and it gives you a leg up on the competition.

Since news has to be constantly updated and put on the web regularly, many reporters are approaching interviews differently too.

Toscano said nowadays digital media has made it so that interviews are on tape or video only.

“No longer is it just showing up [to interview someone] with a pen and pad and taking a couple of notes of what a player says,” Toscano explained. “It’s common to see bloggers, and online reporters in the locker rooms after games holding up a video camera, and recorder to a player who’s talking.”

Toscano might be referring to Forsberg as the one who uses only a camera and microphone.

“A lot of veteran reporters make fun of me because I don’t have a notepad or pen when going into the locker room,” Forsberg said. “Nowadays I carry three things. I carry my cell phone, a video recorder, and an audio recorder. Essentially that’s all I need when I’m in there, because those tools allow me to tell stories differently.

Forsberg said that using his digital equipment over using a pen and notebook allows him to tell stories not through just words, but by giving people pictures, sights and sounds of what’s going on in that environment.

Despite how quick stories get put onto the web and how sports journalism is changing; editing and the quality of writing are still very important.

“There’s great responsibility when posting online,” Flannery said. “Your writing has to be clear and without mistakes and sloppiness. I think the best part of sports journalism on the internet is taking the old school values that you learned and applying them into a much quicker medium.”

For more of an inside look at sports journalism, take a look at this video below. Some of the top Celtics’ writers and a student speak about the ever-changing world of sports journalism.

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Impressions During a Visit to the Boston Globe

I’ve never visited the Boston Globe in my entire life. In fact, this visit would make it my second visit to a newspaper headquarter in the past week. Last week I interviewed Bill Burt at the Eagle-Tribune, so it interesting to see what newsrooms were like.

Anyways, as a class we toured the entire Globe facility. It was pretty neat to see the printing press area, and even neater to find out that the Globe not only prints their newspaper, but it prints out the Boston Herald and The New York Times as well.

After touring the printing area, we toured the newsroom and learned about some of the interactive media that the Globe is participating in.

My favorite feature they have in the newsroom involves Twitter. Throughout the newsroom, there are TV monitors set up on the walls and posts. On these TVs are tweets from Globe writers. Each tweet has some comical or interesting news related to their beat. Their tweet stays active on the screen until another writer tweets.

I like that feature, because it’s just interesting to see what’s on a Globe writer’s mind and what’s going with their beat. In fact, Bruins writer Kevin Paul Dupont had a funny tweet about the NHL labor strike, and the disagreement between the player’s association and the league.

Another feature at the Globe I found fascinating was a program they have called SNAP. The Globe has a $25,000 interactive display that shows every Instagram picture taken around Boston. The pictures are used as a source for stories. The pictures at the Globe are also shown on a map of Boston, so if a picture was taken at the Old North Church, than a picture will hover over the location of the church on the map. In a way, SNAP is like an interactive version of lifestyle and culture in Boston. You can bet if people visited a bar or tourist attraction and took a picture, then uploaded to Instagram that the Globe media lab will use it.

I like how people can put captions within their picture, which captures the essence of the photograph. For example, if someone goes to Halftime Pizza, takes a picture and writes a small caption saying how good the pizza is; the Globe technically gets a picture along with a small review.

SNAP is such a neat feature for the Globe.

Although confusing, the cascading of tweets was interesting. The Globe keeps track of all the tweets about its articles. Who is tweeting about what and what tweets are gaining a lot of interest are also focal points of cascading.

I found “open captioning” to be interesting. This is a feature where a media outlet can tap into the Globe’s network so that any speech that’s being presented on their channel will appear as text on the Globe’s “open captioning.” I was confused by this, but my impression of this feature is that if Fox News is having Mitt Romney on to speak, and are tapped into the Globe, the speech text will appear. I might be repeaing myself, but I’m trying to clarify what I was told this program is. It’s confusing, but a unique feature.

Finally, I got to see Adam 12 do his radio show for Boston.com radio (RadioBDC) and I was intrigued because I’d love to have my own sports radio show here in Boston. I love talking about sports and I’m pretty knowledgeable. If I had a dream job, this would be one of them.

I liked visiting the Globe. I’ve been reading it since I was able to read newspapers, so it was fun to see how things work. I definitely want to work here one day, that’s for sure. For now, I need to concentrate on the rest of this semester and next semester before I walk in that direction.

Picture is from the author of this blog’s personal media library. Some rights reserved.

Celtics sign “The Brazilian Blur” Leandro Barbosa

The Celtics bench just keeps getting deeper and deeper.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has reported that the Celtics have signed 6’3″ combo guard Leandro Barbosa to a one-year deal for the upcoming season.

The 29-year-old played for the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors, in a combined 64 games last season. He averaged a total of 12.2 PPG, while shooting 44 percent from the floor.

His best season came during the 2006-2007 season, where he averaged 18.1 PPG with the Phoenix Suns. Barbosa’s shooting was deadly as he shot 43 percent from 3-point territory and 48 percent from the field. His play earned him the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. Overall, for his nine year career he has averaged 12.5 PPG.

Barbosa earned his nickname The Brazilian Blur because of his speed and how he blows by defenders with flashy moves.

Analysis

So the move to release Dionte Christmas led to an opening in the back court and the Celtics signing Leandro Barbosa. This is a solid, low risk/high reward move. The Celtics get him at the league minimum, so they don’t have anything to lose if he stinks.

Anyways, after the surprising retirement of Keyon Dooling, the Celtics are left with Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to anchor the backcourt.

However, until Avery Bradley returns from double shoulder surgery in December, the team doesn’t have anyone to back Lee up, as Terry is the defacto back-up point guard until then.

Here’s the bright side to Barbosa.

He brings amazing speed and sharpshooting ability to a team that already has many good shooters. He also has exceptional ball handling skills and I think that was an important factor with Danny Ainge bringing him in. Like the rest of the Celtics roster, Barbosa is versatile and can also play point guard where his ball handling skills would definitely shine.

Now with Bradley out for the time being, he could see 10-15 minutes a game. Once Bradley gets healthy though, Lee will be the first guy off the bench.

Ainge brought Barbosa in solely for depth, which is something Barbosa completely understands. He wants to win and Boston is the right place for that. For now though, he’ll provide solid scoring behind Lee. On any given night, Barbosa is capable of dropping 10-15 points when he plays a solid 20-25 minutes. He adds solid depth, and gives opposing teams something to think about when he and Rondo are putting defenses through hell with their speed.

Unfortunately, the downside is why was a talented player like him still a free agent a mere two weeks before the season starts?

For starters, his shooting was absolutely horrendous with the Pacers. After he was acquired from the Raptors, he shot just .399 percent from the field. In fact, it was worse during the playoffs.

How bad was it?

Barbosa was basically rendered useless against the Miami Heat during the Eastern Conference Semi Finals last year. He shot 32 percent from the field and didn’t make one single three-point shot. For a guy who prides himself on 3-pointers and shooting, his performance seemed like his career was reaching the end at a mere 29-years-old. Barbosa was no longer that guy who could put up 18 points a night like he did six years ago.

That’s why he was a free agent.

If he’s playing 20-25 minutes every night, then the odds of winning Banner #18 will be pretty slim. The goal for Barbosa is to be ready when Doc Rivers calls his name. As most knowledgeable sports fans know, a team can never have too much depth. Like Lee and Terry, he probably could start on most teams. However in Barbosa’s case, being on a team like the Celtics, he’ll be serviceable.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

Overall in the grand scheme of things, his job will be taking over for Marquis Daniels as the head cheerleading bench player.

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Storifying the NFL Referee Fiasco

Well putting together my Storify wasn’t too difficult at all. I enjoyed putting together all the relevant pieces to make an interesting and shortened down story about the NFL referee and NFL owner labor situation.

This topic was so recent that the internet was abundant with all sorts of articles, pictures, videos and tweets about the whole labor situation. Therefore all I had to do was place the right pieces into the right slots. Kind of like a puzzle.

To recap real quick, the NFL owners and the NFL Referee Association (NFLRA) couldn’t come to an agreement with a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), so the referees decided to go on strike.

The strike began in June and ended on Sep 26. A total of three weeks of regular season games were officiated by replacement referees.

For about a month, they had control of games and were indecisive about a lot of things, which led to botched calls.  Overall, the missed calls, the indecisiveness, and their inexperience would cost one team a game.

The result was players, fans and the media basically asking for these referees head’s on a silver plate. Twitter also became the place where fans and players vented their frustrations.

My Storify is exactly what I just said, except I tried to put it in the best chronological order I could. I gathered tweets, pictures, videos and news articles from across the internet and wrote some accompanying text for everything I posted.

Basically, if someone wanted to know what happened during the entire labor dispute and how the replacement referees fared, than all he or she would have to do is read my Storify. They wouldn’t have to search the internet for hours at a time to find examples of them screwing up. Everything is broken down on my Storify.

What made this fun was some of the videos and tweets I posted were pretty comical. If someone has a good sense of humor they’ll chuckle at what a farce this whole situation was.

The most challenging task was finding angry tweets from NFL players that took place two or three weeks ago. Luckily, I was following Twitter and was able to gather several very memorable, expletive-laden angry tweets that basically summed up how NFL players as a whole felt about the situation.

An issue I did have with Storify was that when I was trying to find information on Twitter or even on YouTube, I would get an error message saying “Twitter is not responding, request timed out.”

That happened numerous times while I was looking up Twitter handles. When it came to YouTube, sometimes a search for a video couldn’t be found, yet I was watching it directly through YouTube. That was the most frustrating part of using Storify.

Overall, that explains my Storify. The topic was straight-forward and news worthy. It was also fun to create. If I knew about this earlier, I would’ve created one about the Red Sox, which probably would’ve ended up as the longest Storify in history.

Photo (cc) by Ed Yourdon and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Storify: The Future of Social Media and Journalism

Social media has taken off like a rocket over the last six years or so. It all started with MySpace, then Facebook came around and made the process of being friends with someone ridiculously easy. After that, photo and networking sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr started popping up. All these networks made connecting with the world unbelievably easy. Now the future of social media is upon us and it’s a fun website called Storify.

Mostly everyone, at least in the western world, loves social media.

They love the ease of connection, the feedback and the interesting debates about the news that’s currently taking place. Now imagine taking all the interesting parts and making them into a blog post, a story or even an article for a news network. That’s exactly what Storify does.

After listening to Josh Stearns, of the Free Press, talk about Storify and his 2011 Storify of the Year, I was thoroughly impressed at the potential Storify has in creating a new type of journalism.

Listening to him speak and through my own judgements, this type of “new media” can allow a user to take all sorts of tidbits of information from across the internet, such as tweets, quotes from news articles, videos from YouTube, pictures, and feedback from the public etc. to go and make a very interesting and interactive news article, similar to what Stearns did with his Storify of the Year project.

In his Storify, he was able to narrow down the journalist arrests at the Occupy movements all across the U.S., and make it into an interesting story by capturing quotes and tweets from the journalists on the ground who were getting arrested. He learned of these journalists by tracking them on Twitter, and then captured their direct tweets.

By doing this, he was able to show his viewers a visual of what was actually going on was for real and that the tweets backed up his claims as legitimate sources. This helped make his Storify more concrete and relevant as a news story.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe Storify is the future of social media and journalism.

Old-school journalism where a reporter goes to an event, covers it, and writes a 900-word story on it at his desk, or gets information from the AP wire, will one day become a thing of the past. Social media has connected the world and everyone has tapped into it to connect with each other.

Even the media networks and reporters are connected. Using those sites have enabled them to share information with the world at a much quicker rate. Storify will allow a social media geek to put stories together as soon as news happens by the second. News happens quick, but it takes a network a little bit of time to get on the air to report something and it takes journalists at least an hour or so to write a good story or blog post. Storify will decrease time.

Imagine if Storify and social media was around during 9/11. A second-by-second log could be recorded. Videos of the chaos and the scene in NYC could be uploaded. Tweets from people inside the Twin Towers or at the scene could be pooled together. Since everyone is connected, someone could’ve made a Storify to track this devastating event to show everyone what was going on without having them search all over the internet for news.

Plus, Storify allows a story to grow.

In other words, a journalist can keep adding to it where it’ll eventually become a chronological journal of the event. Traditional articles can’t technically grow, as a writer would have to pen another article to keep things relevant.

Another thing Storify does is it allows anyone to be a journalist.

The pros are it allows people who understand social media well and who understand journalism ethics to quickly make an interesting story that can clarify things for readers and viewers. Journalists will find this tool to be extremely helpful with their job.

The cons are anyone can do it. Someone who uses a computer all day and doesn’t have many responsibilities can put together something as relevant as a journalist and take full credit for “reporting” it without having the credentials, or having done the tough work. All people have to do is take the relevant social media tidbits they find and put it together as a story and call it their own. Like Stearns said, Storify attributes sources so no one can really claim plagiarism or that they weren’t cited correctly.

In the future, I expect many, if not all, news groups to have Storify as an integral part of their corporation. Just the site allowing someone to bring all sorts of information together is such an amazing tool to have. It’s reasonably easy to use so the learning curve wouldn’t be too hard, especially for anyone who has knows how to use Facebook or a computer.

In an age where everyone is online, many news organizations might find it easier to utilize than using old-fashioned reporting techniques. Combination reporting could be a new way to report events. Having journalists out on the ground tweeting and taking videos then having them send them to a social media reporter to put together a Storify could be a new wave of revolutionizing reporting that takes covering news to a whole new level.

Using Twitter Is Quite Fun

Well my plans to cover to the 13th Annual Beer Summit sponsored by my favorite beer Sam Adams were dashed by unforeseen circumstances, which include tickets being sold out.

Oh well.

Like my time in the Army, we learn to improvise and adapt to the situation and the hand we’re dealt, so I took it upon myself to cover the Red Sox and Orioles on Friday night at Fenway Park.

Fenway Park from my seat

Now before I talk about my experience, this is the first year in my entire life that the Red Sox have become a blip on the radar. I have never seen a team so dysfunctional, distracted and detestable since maybe 2001 to an extent. Losing stinks, but when someone or a team chooses to make up excuses for bad play or to blame others such as the media, than they’re quite unlikeable. I could go on about this forever and make some good points as I’m passionate about my teams in Boston, but this isn’t the time nor place to do it for the moment.

Anyways, back to using Twitter to cover this game. The main thing I was hoping while covering this game was getting all the relevant information tweeted. That means tweeting about key moments in the game such as when either team scored a run, or when there was a pitching change. Things like that.

I mean if you’re going to cover a game, than you might as well get down all the relevant information. That was my goal and I accomplished it. I was able to tweet about Jon Lester’s performance easily as well as how runs were scored, such as Orioles’ catcher Matt Wieters driving in three runs during the Orioles’ 4-2 win. I even tweeted about interesting people, including Jim Roosevelt, grandson of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch. That was nice.

It also didn’t hurt to have some of the best seats in the house up in the Pavillion Box above the State Street Pavillion Club on the first base side. That helped a lot when it came to my vantage point.

Here are my tweets:

6:39 p.m.6:41 p.m7:04 p.m.7:11 p.m7:19 p.m.7:32 p.m.7:36 p.m.7:48 p.m.8:09 p.m.8:13 p.m.8:18 p.m.8:47 p.m.8:49 p.m.8:57 p.m.8:59 p.m.9:06 p.m.9:11 p.m.9:23 p.m.9:27 p.m.9:31 p.m.9:43 p.m.9:48 p.m.9:58 p.m.9:59 p.m., 10:01 p.m., 10:04 p.m., 10:12 p.m.

Now here are my positives and negatives about using Twitter to cover an event.

Positives first. I found it fun. I liked it and would like to do it again, especially if it’s sports related event. I don’t know why, but maybe because baseball is slowed paced that I had an easy time tweeting things about the game. Like I mentioned earlier, I was able to tweet about ALL the relevant information from the game, so if someone’s following me, they’ll get all the relevant information about the game and what’s going on at the park. It was also easy to take a picture and post it to Twitter using their mobile app. When you do that, it makes you a link and it gives you a chance to write a relevant tweet to accompany your picture. Pretty neat. I felt like I was reporting, well I was, and getting information out to the masses. All I needed was a computer to type on and I would’ve been a full-fledged sportswriter.

Some of the negatives were it isn’t easy to type on my phone. I don’t like touch screen keyboards at ALL. I made a few mistakes with spelling and had to delete some tweets. I could’ve made links to other websites using my phone, but it’s a process and for some reason I can’t copy and paste with the Twitter app. I usually can copy/paste on my phone, but I couldn’t with Twitter. Another downside was repeated use of my phone drained my battery. By the seventh inning, I was down to about 25 percent power. By then I couldn’t tweet a lot, and if I did; I wouldn’t have had a phone to use until I got home to charge it. That was a bad negative. I also wasn’t paying attention to the game as much when I was tweeting, because I was obviously forming a tweet. I didn’t want to miss anything, so I kept digressing from tweeting to watching the game, but I want my tweets to be relevant so I did my best to get a tweet out. Outside of a drained battery, these negatives are just minor and me nitpicking.

Overall, this was a fun experience. Twitter is an excellent tool for the media and for reporting news and even rumors. It’s also an excellent tool to get out information, by the second, to the world and your followers. The positives outweighed the negatives in my opinion. I’d like to try this with other sports too, especially fast-paced ones to see how that experience goes.

Photo is from author of this blog’s media library. Some rights reserved.

Marquis Daniels Signs with the Milwaukee Bucks

It seems small forward/guard Marquis Daniels has found a new home.

Boston Globe and NBA writer Gary Washburn reported via Twitter that Daniels signed a guaranteed deal with the Milwaukee Bucks for the upcoming season.

Daniels played three injury-riddled seasons with the Celtics, including a campaign two seasons ago where he fell awkwardly, which resulted in spinal surgery. Not many people knew if he’d ever play again, but he resigned with the Celtics before last season and came off the bench when needed.

In those three seasons, he averaged 4.9 PPG in 138 games.

Who could forget Daniels and the flexing gang during the playoffs last year.

Photo (cc) by therob006 and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.