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Is this any good?

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by MNgremlin, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    Wrote a story on how the local university deals with social media accounts of student-athletes. Your thoughts?

    MARSHALL - Imagine having a conversation. However, instead of there being only one person on the other end, the conversation can be heard by an innumerable amount of people. Welcome to the world of social media, where anything can be read by anybody.

    A world where anything can be misinterpreted by anybody.

    Add in a higher-profile status as a student-athlete and that magnifies the number of possible views and misinterpretations.

    That's why university athletic departments across the country are educating student athletes on being aware about what is posted.

    Southwest Minnesota State University is one of those schools.

    At the beginning of each school year, SMSU student-athletes meet with compliance coordinator Ross Webskowski, director of athletics Chris Hmielewski and athletics communication director Kelly Loft.

    Discussed in this meeting are guidelines and procedures, and reminders of what is acceptable social media use.

    "Never embarrass your team in public, when texting or tweeting, all that stuff," Loft said. "Be cognizant that you have a lot of fans. What you say as a joke can come back a different way."

    "We do a good job of talking to student-athletes and telling them that because you're a student-athlete, you're under the eye of a lot of people," women's basketball coach Allison Kruger said. "People are going to nitpick and take out of context. You open yourself up to a whole new world."

    Coaches also assist in the monitoring, as they have access to the student athletes' accounts.

    "Knowing staff can see it usually puts a stop to it," said baseball coach Paul Blanchard.

    However, things do still get posted that need to be addressed.

    "If we see something, we can tell them right away it needs to be taken down because it's not acceptable," Kruger added. "We self-monitor before anyone major can monitor us."

    The NCAA keeps a close eye on social media in order to catch any violations.

    Twitter can make student-athletes famous for all the wrong reasons. There are plenty of examples of this at the Division I level.

    Cardale Jones, quarterback at Ohio State University, put himself in the spotlight in October 2012 for voicing his displeasure over attending classes.

    The tweet read: "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS."

    His punishment? Jones was suspended for a game and his Twitter account was deleted.

    According to Webskowski, gambling and drugs are big emphases of the NCAA.

    "The NCAA has people tracking social media, and those are two big ways student-athletes can get in trouble," Webskowski said.

    SMSU hasn't seen any major violations when it comes to its own student-athletes. That goes back to the education of the student-athletes at the beginning of each year.

    One of those SMSU student-athletes is Shaun Condon, senior guard on the men's basketball team.

    Condon recognizes that there are limitations for student-athletes that take some time to get used to.

    "If you're not in athletics, you have more freedom to post whatever you want as long as it's not harmful to the university," said Condon. "It's hard to get used to, not being able to always say what you want to say."

    Being at a small Division II school, a tweet may not reach as far, but the risk is still there.

    That risk has helped SMSU staff demonstrate the importance of using these accounts the right way.

    "If you wouldn't want your parents reading it, don't post it," Blanchard said.

    "Be smart about what you do. Think before you post," Loft added.

    While social media can have its drawbacks, with education it can be a positive for the student-athletes and those who follow them.

    "I know in the community people follow our kids," Kruger said. "If you use it the wrong way it can haunt you but if you use it the right way it can be a good thing."
  2. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    It's OK. Could be better, could be worse. It didn't do much for me. At the same, I can see a lot of effort was put into it.

    It read like a story you could do at any school across the country. They all do social media education/monitoring for the very same reasons. There's no real news here. Find a different reason, find a different angle, find a different outcome and you've got yourself a far better story.
  3. ringer

    ringer Member

    I agree with Doc Holliday. There were a few interesting points, but they were buried by the obvious.

    Some suggestions:
    * In 2015, I don't think you have to explain what social media is and why it can get people in trouble (so you could scrap the first 3 grafs entirely).
    *The interesting thing is how -- and how many -- schools are addressing (real or potential) social media problems. I would have done some serious research and led with the number of universities (nationwide or in the Minnesota State system) that now have rules/punishments/or faculty monitoring its students' social media use. That's your hook. (The number might be surprisingly low. Or surprisingly high. Either way, it will make your readers think.)
    * Then, interview faculty about how they find time to monitor this stuff, and what specific red flags they're looking for.
    * Interview students about whether they think the punishment (whatever it may be) is an effective deterrent and fair.

    You found a real issue with potential news value -- perhaps even controversy. But I don't think you dug deeply enough.

    I hope that helps, and motivates you for your next story.
  4. joe_schmoe

    joe_schmoe Active Member

    Without reading further, I will say I completely agree with Ringer's first point. I quickly lost interest learning about social media. If I don't know why I'm reading in the first few graphs (sometimes the first graph), I'm not going to keep reading. And honestly, read those first graphs again and ask why it's broken down into five paragraphs. I could say the same thing in two. I'm all for new paragraphs, but not when they aren't needed.
  5. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    Thanks for your input. I'm still very new to the industry and I appreciate your advice.
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