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Frisco Thunder's Junior Journalism Program

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daytonadan1983, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    I'm plugging the work of my high school program this year, if you esteemed professionals don't mind.

    You can view their work on the home page of www.friscothunderifl.com

    FRISCO, Tex – As far as Frisco Thunder spokesperson Dan Ryan is concerned, participants in the inaugural season of the team’s Junior Journalism Program officially joined the sports media fraternity following the May 27 appreciation reception at Cantina Laredo.

    “You’ve just received free food, a SWAG [Stuff We All Get] bag and verbal praise from management in lieu of financial compensation,’’ Ryan kidded. “Welcome to the show.”

    Students and advisors from Frisco and Centennial High School were recognized for their contribution to the pilot program (“Adult-speak for `We’re still working on it’’) that provided students the opportunity to cover the Thunder’s home games and gain valuable real-time experience.

    “When they [Thunder owners Jake and Vinita Reed] told me I’d be overseeing a program with high school students, the first thought was `Let’s see how this will fly,’” Ryan told the students. “It flew all right. You have provided broadcast quality work this year – there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be in some college arena in four or five years watching you graduate something cum laude and seeing your work on my television immediately afterwards.”

    Jake Reed complemented the program with one of the ultimate show of respect the Thunder has received from other Intense Football League teams.

    “Everyone has been trying to copy or steal our idea,” Mr. Reed said. “You represented us and yourselves very well this season. I’m glad we gave you the chance to do this. Our players truly enjoyed having you interview them this season – everyone likes to be on camera.”

    Vinita Reed echoed her husband’s sentiment.

    “I watched you on the field after the games doing your interviews and it was a thrill to see how professional you were,’’ Mrs. Reed said. “The thrill continued when I saw the final product on our web site. We’re proud of the work you did.”

    Programs such as the Junior Journalism will be beneficial for minor league sports teams, especially those such as the Thunder located in or near media markets with major league franchises.

    “Given the current state of the newspaper and television industry, if minor leagues teams want the coverage they think they deserve, then they’re going to have to do it themselves using new media … and the good thing is they can. We’re doing it in Frisco, thanks to your help,” Ryan told the students.

    Each participant received a certificate and SWAG – a sacred rite among sports media – that include Jake Reed’s trading card from his NFL days and gifts from Hawaiian Falls water park, Smoothie King, First Choice ER, Frisco Online, Sheridan’s Frozen Custard, the McKinney Blue Thunder and Frisco Ruff Riders baseball teams. Advisors Eva Coleman (Frisco) and Karen Walker (Centennial) were treated to dinner certificates at Randy White’s Hall of Fame Barbeque.

    Stacey Welsh of Centennial was recognized for the “Soundbite of The Year” for her asking Thunder QB Wes Cooper “if there was any truth to the rumor he was also dating Jessica Simpson.’’ Brittany Beamon of Frisco was honored for the “Get” – an interview with former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

    Two gameballs were presented – one to Frisco’s Michael Boren for pulling double duty as a broadcaster and gameday feature writer. Local media judged the best segment was done by Beamon for an interview with Thunder LB Chris Glenn.
  2. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Hmm. So much for feedback.
  3. 2muchcoffeeman

    2muchcoffeeman Active Member

    "Doing it themselves" is not the same as "coverage from the media."

    "Doing it themselves" is "public relations."
  4. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure the implication that sports journalists are in it for the free food and collecting goodies from the home team goes over that well.

    And I'm not sure that team management personnel who operate on that assumption have a real good handle on what's going on, either.

    And I'm REALLY not sure that too many people on this board think journalism, sports or any other variety, is the wisest field for kids to enter these days. Or that asking QBs about Jessica Simpson rumors is much of a basis for "Soundbite of the Year."
  5. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    The words of someone who has no idea what sports journalism actually is.

    Let me see if I've got this right. You insult professional sports journalists in an online forum for professional sports journalists, using stereotypical humor, and you expect to win friends? Are you tone deaf or just plain stupid? Even sadder, the quips aren't even funny -- which may be the bigger crime.

    Daytonadan1983, please get something straight -- you're not doing journalism, you're doing public relations. Journalism and PR are not the same thing.

    I recognize you're trying to do a good thing for your organization, and the fact that you've been able to build something in Frisco, Texas, such as it is, is a testament to your creativity. But, for the love of Pete, grow up already. Be a professional.

    No one begrudges your efforts to generate publicity. I've done PR for a living and I know how difficult it can be to get it. But if you want serious press coverage, the first step would be to stop insulting the people you're trying to court -- both directly (with the comments about food and swag) and indirectly (by implying your Mouseketeers are doing our jobs for us).
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    That's why it was best when people just left this thread alone.
    After one sentence it was apparent the poster held stereotypical misconceptions of naivete.
  7. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    Fair enough. My flippancy in an attempt at light-hearted humor has gotten me into a modicum of trouble here and for those offended, I do offer a sincere apology. Remind me to never, ever post a rough draft on a public message board again. (It will be tweaked before being released this week)

    So when it come to poking fun at this industry, the gist of this conversation comes down to that classic scene in Animal House:

    "He can't do that to our pledges"

    "No, only WE can do that to our pledges"

    Now, answer me a second question, fellow professionals:

    What's the difference between quality game-day coverage and day-to-day coverage on a team web site or team publication and game-day coverage and day-to-day coverage in a newspaper or on television or radio? Have the lines of public relations and journalism become that blurred?

    It's hard for minor league teams to obtain a maximum amount of coverage, given the media's shift to covering poker, athlete's efforts on reality shows and the social life of Dallas Cowboy quarterbacks so we're trying to utilize new media. While I may rightfully criticized for my public disdain of the industry on this board, I'm going to take some pride in what we're acheiving.

    Again, my apologies and also my appreciation for what is a healthy exchange of ideas.

    BTW -- Mousekeeters was a good line. I'm going to order ears for everyone next year.
  8. Jersey_Guy

    Jersey_Guy Active Member

    No, Dan, the lines are still very obvious to those of us doing actual journalism. The difference is that a media outlet with no stake in the team's success - be it a newspaper, website or broadcast outfit - is always going to have more credibility with the public and much less incentive to slant stories to the positive.

    Coverage on a team site is public relations, plain and simple. Obviously there are folks at MLB.com who disagree, but that's a whole other conversation (and one we've had here before).

    Well, actually, minor league teams usually receive an amount of coverage that's in line with the public interest in that area. There are teams that are covered on a day-to-day basis by their local media, mostly because those teams are big news in their area and people really care. When teams get little or no coverage, it's because folks in those areas simply aren't interested. The red herring of poker, reality shows or gossip only further demonstrates a fundimental lack of understanding of both the business of journalism and the supply/demand aspect of media coverage.

    As for what you've accomplished ... I certainly think it's laudible that you've given high school journalists the chance to experience what it's like to cover minor league baseball, but I also wonder how you'd have reacted if, one of those days, one of your players was suspended for popping positive on a steroid test and the kid wanted to lead his story, "The Frisco Thunder beat the Visiting Bobos 4-3, but the real story of the day was top prospect Clubber Clemons being suspended for the next 60 days for testing positive for steroids and cocaine."

    My guess is, you'd have killed that story if it was within your power to do so.

    And that, my friend, is one example of "the difference between quality game-day coverage and day-to-day coverage on a team web site or team publication" and real journalism.
  9. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Blame your bosses for putting a football team in a location where you'll get overshadowed everytime Matt McBriar breaks wind ... even in May.

    Just a fact of life. Minor teams are an afterthought in a metro with four majors, plus MLS. :D You'd get a lot more coverage in Little Rock, let me put it that way.

    The RoughRiders are learning that fact, now that their newness has worn off after 5 years. They average 5K, which for Double-A is slightly above average, but they sold out their opening year in 2003 10K-plus per night.
  10. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Apology accepted. Along those lines, let me offer one bit of advice from someone who has worked on both sides of the journalism/PR fence: Treat someone like a professional, and you'll be treated like a professional in return. You can start by accepting the fact that you're in marketing, not journalism.

    The difference between your own coverage of the team and local media coverage of the team is that you have a vested interest in making your employer look good, even when the news doesn't. If all you're doing is providing game stories and daily practice notes, there's probably not much actual difference.

    But the true test of your efforts will be the first time bad news befalls your organization. Say your star player is accused of a serious crime. Say your ownership threatens to move out of town unless the city builds a new arena. Can you handle that objectively? Of course not. No one can be objective when there's a paycheck on the line.

    Does the public care? Sad to say, but probably not. But they do know -- and resent -- when they're being spun, marketed to, or lied to. That's what you have to be careful of.

    The media will cover whatever the audience is interested in. I have no idea what your attendance is, or how many hits you get on your website, or what the listenership might be on the local radio broadcast if you have one, but if you're drawing interest first, you'll draw media attention second.

    It's not the local media's responsibility to generate publicity for your organization. You don't deserve attention just because you're here -- you'll get the attention once there are screaming thousands in your bleachers and it becomes impossible for the local sports editors and sports directors to ignore you.

    Their job is to REPORT, not SUPPORT.
  11. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    I truly appreciate these responses. This is good stuff.

    May I share with you how I handled a crisis situation last year?

    My former league had an on-the-field death last year -- broken neck after a helmet to helmet hit.

    Knowing what I would be up against that day, I went against conventional judgement and called up the bullpen -- intern writers -- to help me with the coverage.

    While I dealt with official communication -- working with the county medical examiners, the police investigation, the ownership group and most importantly, the family of the player -- the interns filed three stories. One was coverage of the media briefing, player reaction and outside reaction to the player's death.

    With everything going on -- try dealing with news side instead of sports side on a sports issue -- I simply didn't have the time or creativity to write the copy the situation warranted. The interns did a decent job -- I just had to do some touch-up work on each article and we provided what I thought was coverage that presented the team and league side of the story as accurately as we could in conjunction to what the "journalists" were doing at the same time. It took me a long time to deal with how the news side tried to cover this and if wasn't for Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel and Randy Rorrer and Sean Kernan of the Daytona Beach News-Journal, it could have been worse.

    If there was a crisis situation, I'd send out an official statement and than work with my writing and broadcasting staff on how we'd cover it. Our audience deserves that.

    I will tell you this, there is no way I'd kill a story if the media also has it. If a player makes a decision that affects his team and his future career, dealing with the media is part of the process. And if it's a stupid decision that keeps me at the office late ...
  12. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    I'll agree with nearly everything that reformedhack had to say.

    I understand that it can be tough when you're trying to do something, promote your product, gain awareness, etc. and the media isn't there to cover you. Such is the pitfall of minor league sports, where many newspapers and television stations feel that more people care about the major leagues than the minors (and that, unfortunately for you, is true).

    I've seen the work you've put together on the Web site so far and I say that you are doing a good job with it. The plus, as you're aware, is that you don't have a limit for how long, how far, how deep, etc. you can go. But the problem comes when, as reformedhack said, you find out that the star player was arrested at a club or whatnot. What will you do then? It's an issue that you're likely going to find out you'll have to brush under the rug, so you're going to have to deal with the backlash from that, especially if something big happens.

    It appears that the work that you're doing in the community is invaluable, which is a plus. I'm not sure of the franchise's situation, but I still believe that if you can get enough people to go to the games, and a strong following, the attention will come.
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