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USC reporter, Rivals

Discussion in 'Journalism Jobs' started by MU_was_not_so_hard, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. G-Spot

    G-Spot Member

    I'll jump in here as a former Rivals.com employee. I used to trash the company but now feel differently having been away from it for a little while. My problems arose from guys I worked closely with, not the company itself.

    It seems that Rivals is making a push to hire more established journalists and get away from the fanboys that have run some of its sites from the beginning. The larger sites with huge audiences are keeping the publishers who started the site but you see them adding on young journalists who may or may not have be a 'fan' of said school. I know of two site publishers that recently received their walking papers. Both of those publishers were diehard fans of their school. One of the replacements wasn't a fan/alumni of the school but worked freelance for the site prior to being hired full time.

    Now, the USC gig seems like a pretty good one. I know Ryan the publisher. He's a good guy and seems like he'd be easy to work with. He's young-ish and extremely smart. You definitely won't be beating your head against a wall when it comes working to him.

    I think with the recent takeover from Yahoo, working for Rivals may not be a bad idea for some these days. If the site grows like it did in the next give years like it has in the last five..
  2. sportsnut

    sportsnut Member

    Yes you need to live in Los Angeles to take this gig. They want a beat reporter that would do everything a newspaper reporter would do. Attend press conferences, meetings, practices etc. I am not sure if the site attends games as media, but I do know they attend tailgates.
  3. HEST

    HEST New Member

    For every one fan who gets pissed about a negative news item you break, there are nine more who say, "give it to me, good or bad". We've been first on stories ranging from head coach firings to player suspensions/dismissals/transfers to exposing AD screw ups to all-conference player arrests. And those kind of stories have had more to do with our 900 percent growth the last five years than any "mouthpiece" item we've run. I think less-than-positive stories DO make some of the higher ups a tad nervous. But I won't do it any other way.
  4. Dale Cooper

    Dale Cooper Member

    From the way you talk, you give the impression that you work for the USC Rivals site. But you don't.
  5. HEST

    HEST New Member

    You're right, I don't work with those guys. I've spent the last five years covering a program whose fans are more passionate about their team than even SC supporters. How else do you explain going from about 25th in subs to No. 1 in the network when the site's top draw has gone .500 over that same span? We've done it by getting after it. Not just with recruiting news, either.
  6. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    Hest, from my second-hand experience, I have to agree with you here.
    I've had friends at three Rivals sites -- one in the southeast, one in the midwest, one out west.
    Two have been told to get whatever news they can, to beat the "big dogs" on the beat regardless of the news and worry about the fans later. Those two have told me they rarely heard anything crazier from fans than they did during their newspaper days. The third was leaned on about not breaking negative stories because the head honcho was worried about possibly getting shut out by the school.
    So, just like a lot of newspapers, let's try not to lump them all into one category, in this case the "they don't want negative news category." There are some damn fine journalists at some rivals sites, and some not-so-good journalists at rivals sites.
  7. RyanLA

    RyanLA New Member

    Apparently I should thank the folks here at sportsjournalists.com for having so many unsolicited resumes finding their way to my inbox. I realized how well this site worked last year when I posted an opening for the USC Rivals.com site looking for a beat writer. The person I hired was very professional, did a great job and impressed many of the other traditional media USC beat guys. He was recently hired by the Orange County Register and I wish him all the best there. He was very thankful for the opportunity my site gave him and even offered to help out and freelance for the site when he could.

    I am currently looking to find another team beat writer. The job starts this summer, working as an independent contractor. The focus is on football, attending all practices and games, but some basketball coverage would also be required. We are fully credentialed by the SID.

    The expectations I have for this position are slightly different than what you would find in the newspaper world. Being able to self-edit what you file is important, although the staff tries to read/edit each other’s material as much as possible. Interacting with the fans on the message boards might also be a new experience for the applicant. The previous writer had a few stumbles on boards at first, but got the hang of it fairly quickly. By the end his “See ya” post had over 60 positive responses from the fans wishing him the best, many of them from people who previously were skeptical when he first arrived.

    As far as negative reporting goes we do this all the time. We write as many stories after a loss as we do after a win. Many times the stories during a rough stretch are read more than the ones during winning streaks. We cover all aspects of recruiting, including having people live at press conferences, whether the prospect picks USC or not. Breaking new offers, commits and any other recruiting scoop, good or bad, is a top priority. In fact, generally Rivals.com sites see the most subscription growth after a prominent coach is fired.

    Having said that, unlike at a newspaper, each of our subscribers are fans of the school we cover. As the publisher I do have to keep this in mind. Our subscribers obviously pay the bills and keep the site working. Having a severe negative focus usually isn’t good for business.

    I don’t claim to have all the answers in this area and I don’t claim to be a classically trained journalist. I hold a BS and MS in electrical engineering and worked in integrated circuit design for 11 years. I always had an interest in writing but the engineering track didn’t leave much room for non-technical courses (we got just 5 GE classes in 4 years). I started the site in 1996 as a hobby and it grew into a real business with real revenues and real interest by the fans. I decided to quit engineering and publish the site fulltime about four years ago.

    I appear on local radio across the country talking about USC football and was a regular guest on the NFL Network show “College Football Now.” Our videos from workouts and practices are considered the best by a publisher on the Rivals.com network and we have also successfully expanded into podcasting. On the writing side we lead in recruiting coverage and with the hire of our last beat writer, took our team coverage to another level. I would like to continue that with our next beat writer.

    I can’t speak for all Rivals.com sites, but personally I do everything in my power to make the site as professional and informative for the fans as I possibly can. Last summer I received resumes from Alaska to Maine. This time, without even posting the opening, I am seeing increased interest, including local applicants familiar with my site that have current or former experience on the USC beat.

    If you have questions about the opening please don’t hesitate to email me.

    Ryan Abraham
    USCFootball.com Publisher
  8. HEST

    HEST New Member


    Nothing pisses me off more than being referred to as a "fan site". To me, if that doesn't bother you, you probably shouldn't be charging for your "content". The only problem with breaking negative stuff is that it typically results in a weeklong headache when tending to your message boards. Instead of working on content, you're babysitting a portion of the sub base. I think that's why some sites steer clear of breaking that kind of news.
  9. sportsnut

    sportsnut Member

    Ryan thank you for dropping by to give us all here at SportsJournalists.com more information about this job and what you expect from your beat writer.

    I may be wrong but the sound of your above explanation it sounds like this is a full time gig or atleast close to it.
  10. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    That's all another can of worms separate from what I was originally talkinga bout.
    Personally, I don't believe in charging for content. Then again, isn't that was print products (and a good portion of the newspaper Web sites) do? Circulation is circulation; it's just a matter of what form.
    Again, not my cup of tea, but that still doesn't mean there aren't a good journalists working at Rivals.
  11. Rivals tried an advertising-financed model once. It went under.
  12. Jon Kay

    Jon Kay New Member

    Figured it was time for me to weigh in here. I'm the one who just left this position for the job in OC, and I can back up everything Ryan said in his post. If you're wondering whether you'd be interested -- that's the job.

    If you're cool with what Ryan said, you should apply. If you're not, you shouldn't. You won't be chasing details on the Reggie Bush scandal, but you also won't be sugarcoating what's going on in the Coliseum, if it's not pretty.

    And Ryan is a top-notch guy. Just ask the ladies of Hermosa Beach. Kidding. He is a top-notch guy, though, and the nicest person who has ever called himself a boss.

    Any questions, feel free to PM me.
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