Posts Tagged ‘College Sports’

Journalists are currently abuzz about the University of Washington men’s basketball team– not for its play but for how it’s allowed to be covered.

Athletics officials at the school recently told a local sports reporter to stop live-tweeting so much during an early season game.  The weird warning revealed a new official rule instituted for all live coverage of UW games by outside press– 20 tweets tops at basketball games and no more than 45 tweets during football games.

Hmm.  The restriction, known formally as a “live coverage policy,” is apparently similar to those being enacted or considered by other sports programs at colleges and universities nationwide.  On spec, it seems to be an attempt to have more netizens check out the school’s own live online coverage.

It is also undoubtedly a larger push to control as much of the in-the-moment media coverage of its teams as possible, in exchange for reporter access to the fun and games.  As former sports reporter Brian Moritz confirms, “Yes, every reporter who gets a press credential signs a release that includes the rules. No, none of them ever read it. Seriously, when’s the last time you read the terms and conditions when you update iTunes?”

It is the latest sports reporting body blow at the college level brought to light this semester, including increasing limits on reporting on team practices and student-athlete injuries.  Heck, University of Kansas head football coach Charlie Weis does not believe the KU student newspaper should provide any negative coverage of his dismal gridiron squad at all.

So, big question of the day: Does your school have a social media policy for live sports coverage?  And bigger question: What other limits, if any, do sports reporters at your news outlet face, especially when covering your school’s A-list players and teams?

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The campus press and the campus athletics program have long co-existed at the epicenter of student life at schools worldwide.  Think about it: What other two entities on a typical campus bring students together as passionately and as regularly, entertains them or informs them quite as well, and creates a collective college experience that goes beyond the classroom and dorm?

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One grabs eyeballs and another plants butts in seats.  Both provide students with shared things to talk about.  Both ignite passions and stir debates.  Both give students something to do other than studying or paying attention in class.  And one needs the other: Especially at larger schools, the sports section is the student newspaper’s bread-and-butter.  While at smaller schools, student press coverage may be the only attention teams can hope to generate.

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All this by way of an introduction to a rah-rah editorial that I randomly came across and really enjoyed.  The Signpost student newspaper at Weber State in Utah ran an editorial in mid-month about the paltry attendance at student sporting events and the need for greater undergrad support, not simply for athletes’ sake but for the spirit of the school itself.

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The editorial’s start especially caught my eye.  Although aimed at introducing its pro-athletics pitch, the words to me ring deeper as the very purpose of the student press in general: “Being the student newspaper of Weber State University, The Signpost has an obligation to help students get the most out of their experience on campus.”

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Forget Soundsliding, podcasting, vlogging, geotagging, and a-Twitterin’. New media tools are important, but without kick-ass content Journalism 2.0 is still deader than Cuba Gooding Jr.’s acting career (seriously, what happened to him?). Everything journalism was, is and will be rests on our ability to tell a story. And every story starts with idea.

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Below is a brief list of what I’ve found to be timely, pertinent, and interesting recent reports from student and professional media that I hope you might be able to localize, adapt, or otherwise draw inspiration from for story ideas of your own:

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COLLEGE WATERGATES: The recent death of Watergate’s famed anonymous source Deep Throat led me to wonder about the biggest and most scurrilous administrative, athletic, and student scandals at universities worldwide over the years, especially those exposed only through student journalists’ shoe-leather reporting.  Maybe the symbolism of his death and the term break provides a decent timeframe for your media outlet to look back at your own college’s Watergates and what, if any, impact they continue to have on your school today.  By the way, apropos of nothing, here’s a snippet about Deep Throat’s death in a Washington Post appreciation piece: “Felt had breakfast Thursday at his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., he took a nap and disappeared into the evermore. As we in the newspaper biz say, he took the buyout. Good for him, and thank you.”

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LAST LECTURES: On Christmas Day it was exactly five months since the passing of famed “Last Lecture” professor Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University.  He was an inspirational figure for many in large part due to the YouTube-sensation of a lecture he gave about pursuing dreams after learning his cancer was terminal.  Again, possibly with the added time of reflection provided by break and in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, get professors’ (or even students’) take on what their own last lecture topics or even simply their last words to the world might be.

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BRANDING IN BAD ECONOMIC TIMES: A recent Salt Lake Tribune piece touts the near-ubiquitous branding efforts carried out by universities across the U.S. in the past decade via advertisements and larger marketing strategies.  The economy has turned.  Schools’ finances are tightening.  What does it mean for your school’s brand and the behind-the-scenes work done to project it?

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CAMPUS SPORTS SECURITY INCREASE: A governmental push to increase security at college athletic events and a related $3.5 million Homeland Security grant is funding workshops on sports event security training for officials at roughly 1,000 colleges and universities in the states.  Is your school involved?  What’s the current security plans in place at your school for various athletic events?  What have been the biggest security lapses or concerns at athletic events over the years?

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