1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Credentials for Online Only Media

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SharpTusk, May 25, 2012.

  1. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    What are your thoughts on universities and colleges which have a blanket denial of media credentials against online solely media?

    Here's why I'm asking, although please don't limit any response to my situation. I've written for a website since December 2009 which has a decent presence in Arkansas, particularly on historical matters. The site itself was established and updated continuously since 2005, and the site's proprietor edited historical matters one year recently for Arkansas' media guide as a courtesy. Even without credentials, we manage on occasion to scoop stories or to provide content not amenable to print (and I don't mean posting a video). Too, we don't post original material everyday, but I suspect that our reach is larger than many small town newspapers whose writers would not be excluded.

    Last year we requested one field credential without parking to each football game and would have been happy to have them for only non-SEC games. We were summarily denied, but they at least called us to let us know so that we weren't simply getting an email rejection.

    Do any of you all deal with this? Is there a particularly fair way that you've seen colleges or universities distinguish established, followed sites from ones that a guy and his two brothers named Darryl might put on blogspot in a drunken fit?

    Just wondering if it's an issue for anyone else... Thanks, Sharp
  2. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Were you asking for a season credential?
    And are you primarily a sports site, or have a large sports presence?
    The rejection might have had something more to do with the content of your site than your reputation, but that's just a shot in the dark guess. I've seen plenty of web guys, like those from Rivals or the various team sites, at games.
    Getting a season credential might be based on how much you cover the team, too. If you have beat reporters at practice every day or at least several times a week, I have to think you'd get them. If the SID doesn't know who you are and you're asking for credentials out of the blue, it might be an issue.
    It'd probably be easier, too, to get a pressbox credential. If you're not shooting video or photos, they're pretty strict on who's down there.
    Did you call the SID and ask what the problem was, or was it explained?
  3. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    As more and more legitimate media sources either focus more heavily on the web and less in print, this will be an interesting issue.

    Thus far, the real need has been to separate legitimate media from the mom-and-pop guys who do some sort of blog from their laptop. It's a bit of a challenge, for sure, because just about anyone with a computer can start a website and claim to be "media".

    My only suggestion would be to talk with the SID before the season, explain who you are, what you want do and what your coverage will be. Good luck.
  4. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    This is what I was thinking too. Especially with the New Orleans situation and the like. We would never see the T-P not get creds, but you have to wonder what it would be like if they applied and a team or organization had a blanket rule to not give creds to websites and either refused to give them creds or broke their rule and gave them creds because they were the T-P.
    The second option would then open up a whole new bag of dicks [/crossthread]
  5. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I wrote a story last year (for a print and online publication) about being a college sports information director (which I had been back in the 1990s) and what they do. Interviewed four SIDs at area colleges, got some great material and quotes.

    One point I made was how the role of an SID has changed. Used to be, an SIDs primary job was providing information TO the media (in addition to be official record-keeper, etc.). Now, even the smallest of colleges have their own websites. I'd guess that high schools are not far behind. So now one of the primary roles of an SID is maintaining a website, with content as well as stats/rosters. As a result, schools and teams are less dependent on the traditional media to get the message out. Wanna know how your daughter did in her softball/lacrosse game yesterday? Check the website.

    Thus, the question arises.....

    Will the day come when schools/teams see no need for the traditional media? Why invite someone into your house to just stir up dirt on the head coach, stir up a quarterback controversy or some other unwanted publicity? You, as the school/team, can write your own stories with your own spin.... (Superstar center Dwight Howard and his long-time soul mate, coach Stan Van Gundy, teamed up to deliver Christmas gifts to disadvantaged children on Wednesday.)

    So if the media wants to come to the game, let them buy a ticket like everyone else or pay a rights fee, like TV and radio do. No more free passes because, frankly, we no longer need you and you are far more of a pain in the ass than you are worth. We've already seen teams pull credentials following an unfavorable article. Is this going to be a major trend in this new online world?
  6. Mark, I've wondered the same thing a lot. I'm on a beat where the school site now has two "senior writers" who were former reporters in the newspaper biz. They're both pretty good writers, and more and more people are just hitting the school's site.

    In terms of credentials, I know Florida has a policy that you have to have a print publication to get credentials. Most of the team sites get around this by having a magazine, but I think they've loosened up on it recently. I know there was an issue with it when the 24/7 Florida site started up, because it didn't have any affiliated print publication. For a while, they wouldn't credential the 24/7 guys, who were reporters who had been on the beat for a while but taken new jobs at 24/7.

    That problem went away when Landmark's deal with Rivals ran out and 24/7 acquired the accompanying magazine the Rivals Florida team site previously had. I don't recall the Rivals guys ever getting denied credentials despite the lack of a print publication, though. So I think it's starting to get more lax or maybe they adjusted the rule to account for established networks like Rivals, Scout, etc.

    Seems like the standards aren't quite as rigid, but what they do to keep the distinctions between "traditional media" and the more blog-like writers is anyone's guess.
  7. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Yeah, Thomas, I've seen that too. Lots of good reporters getting hired away from newspapers to work for schools/teams or their special publications/websites. I can see why. Pay is usually better, hours are usually better, and you don't get stuck at some crappy prep track meet or soccer game when your sport is out of season.

    So if you want to cover a particular sport, or school, or team, this might be the better gig.

    There is a national organization called CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) that has an annual convention every summer. While they have no legal authority, they tend to set some sort of industry standards that are widely respected in the business. There are some really smart people there. I really hope they will address this topic as soon as this summer and write some guidelines for dealing with online media and how to decide who is "legit" and who is not.

    Given recent developments at major, established newspapers, it appears clear this issue of online-only coverage is only going to grow.
  8. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    Thank you for your reply. Questions are input to me and are helpful.

    Season credentials? Actually the site (through the proprietor) applied and I applied individually as well. When I sent my request in, it was for two games in Little Rock, one of which was a cupcake game. The site sent in the request for all games. Arkansas splits its games between Fayetteville and Little Rock. I'm in Little Rock so I would attend the games here. The proprietor is in Fayetteville and would attend the games there.

    I could understand maybe how I wasn't known, but the proprietor had edited historical portions of the University of Arkansas' media guide at the department's request in 2009.

    Field creds? We checked around first and understood that pressbox space was at a premium, so we elected to request field credentials. We were planning on shooting photos. The site has a small archive of 5,000-6,000 photos. We wanted ones we took.

    Explanation from the Director of Football Media Relations.. First, without question the director knew the site well and knew the proprietor. He took the time to speak with me, and I gathered from links that I sent him that he knew my posts but didn't put me and the posts together.

    The pointed reason for the denial is that strictly online media are not permitted press credentials under the University's policies. It's simply a blanket exclusion.

    The director didn't treat me with kid gloves or necessarily with sympathy, but I felt like he knew that more conversations like this were on the horizon and that it wasn't necessarily within his personal control to change it. He seemed somewhat concerned that I not get riled up.
  9. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    Thanks. I think we'll take another run at it again during the summer and before hand I might send him quite a few examples of university policies which do make distinctions. I can cover the credentialing policies of all 120 DI schools, but referral to any helpful policies would be great.

    I get the feeling that there's a sense of skepticism (probably rightfully so) about whether I'm just someone with a computer who is running a mom-and-pop site who's joined a site with real professionals. I came to this site by a referral from an Arkansas journalist because I was looking for possible sports writing work.

    Maybe Reply No. 4 from SportsJournalists.com will help to allay some of those concerns.. because I didn't ask for the comment but certainly appreciate it. http://www.sportsjournalists.com/forum/posts/3346104/
  10. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    The NCAA wasn't far from this with the women's basketball tourney this year. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette did exactly as you suggest and bought tickets instead of agreeing to the spartan media terms for their photographs. Of course, coverage suffered locally. It's all around a bad deal.

    The way I see this coming down is that state-funded universities will never be able to exclude the media as a "private event" and should the access continue to be restricted, then universities may be prohibited from joining such organizations as being in conflict with state laws, i.e. the university cannot abide by organization terms which are in conflict with state laws.
  11. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    You bring up an interesting aspect of my situation. About two or three years before we applied for credentials, I remember seeing a University of Arkansas policy online for press credentials.

    When I went back to find it, I did, but it was the same one. I searched for a newer one and only found one for the SEC.

    I asked the media director where I could read a copy of the policy, and he said that they were still following the one I had seen.

    Arkansas' policy sounds similar to what you're describing as Florida's policy except that the "other media" included television and radio in addition to print publications.

    It made me wonder whether there is a practice to follow SEC Media Credentialing if at all possible and what exactly the interplay was between the SEC and university policies.
  12. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    Mark, You've given me something new to look up. Thank you! Sharp
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page