live blogging

Post 101- Looking Back and Ahead

What a coincidence that in 2007 we published exactly 100 posts! I know Fanhouse, Deadspin, and others reach that number everyday, but it is a milestone nonetheless.  

I understand the arguments about page views, etc…but I believe posting for the sake of posting does not necessarily equal blogging success.  I never felt the need to comment on everything being done in the sports media.  I’ll leave that for others.  Besides, as much as I love writing for this blog, the other aspects of my life sit much higher on the priority scale.

So what was 2007 like here at Sports Media Journal?   My goal has always been to try to do more than just comment on the work of those in the sports media.  There are plenty of sites that are complaint clearinghouses.  That’s OK.  Being critical is one thing.  Offering constructive solutions to those criticisms in my opinion gives our work a level of credibility.

That was our approach this fall when we took a look at the perceived problems at ESPN. Not only did we comment on some of the problems that ailed the World Wide Leader, but we felt an obligation to come up with a solution to solving some of them.  These solutions may not be revolutionary, but at least we did more than just complain.

We also wanted to use the site to interview those in the sports media.  These professionals not only tell great stories, they have great stories to tell.  Expect more of these profiles in 2008.

In 2007 we took stab at live blogging.  Even though we are still not convinced of its effectiveness, tools like the one from CoveritLive will keep us interested in its development.  Who knows…we may try it again.

We also thought it would be a good idea to show you what it’s like to cover sports.  Our “On Press Row” features will continue in the new year. 

Late in the year we produced our first podcast.  My personal longing to return to my radio roots ensures that there will be more of these throughout the course of the next 12 months.

We look for your input into what you would like to see at SMJ in 2008.  Send us your ideas.

Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!

The NCAA Now Allows Live Blogging…But Under Their Rules

Thanks to David Scott at Scott’s Shots for tipping us off to new rules by the NCAA that now allows for those holding media credentials to NCAA championship events the right to live blog from these games.

A lot of attention was paid to this issue this past spring when Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal was ejected from a NCAA regional baseball tournament game for live blogging in the press box.  We commented on that incident here

The NCAA, rightly so, received a lot of criticism over its handling of the case and needed to make changes. I give the NCAA credit for allowing live blogging.  It’s a good move.  But its insistence on keeping its eye on the live blogs is disturbing.

Under the new rules the NCAA requires that the blogging organization must submit their link to their “ Blog Central” site.  They are also required to place an logo and link on their site.  The NCAA will also monitor the blogs to ensure that reporters do not exceed the number of posts allowed for each event.

I would love to be the people at the NCAA who will actually spend the time to monitor all the blogs and keep track of how many times they post.  Sounds like a great gig.  I doubt it will dedicate the resources to do this.  Nor should it.

Again, the NCAA is missing the boat.  By allowing live blogging, especially of some of the fringe sports or sports at the lower divisions, it would do nothing but paint these competitions in a positive light.  

The move to allow live blogging is a good one.  But if the NCAA really cares about promoting its product it should remove all restrictions and allow bloggers to post as often as they’d like.  

Changing My Tune on Live Blogging (A Bit)

It’s been one week since we experimented with a live blog. Since that time I have grown to appreciate what it can do, but I also still have some reservations. In case you missed it, you can find my initial reaction to live blogging here. You can check out a replay of our live blog of SportsCenter here.

My first complaint about live blogging in my original article was that the term was a misnomer. In all the instances I had seen, the blogging was never “live”. It was a rehash of posts and comments that would be updated periodically during an event. By the time the update took place, something else may have happened that required attention. It never seemed to be practical technically.

Well, I have since made a 180 degree turn on this issue. Soon after my original post I received an e-mail from Keith McSpurren, founder of a company called CoveritLive. He introduced me to his web-based software product that allows bloggers to actually blog “live”. (The software, as of this week, is now called CoveritLive. When I was introduced to it, it was called Altcaster. It’s the same product.) McSpurren was driven to create the product through his work as the manager of a private equity fund.

“I have CNBC on the TV most of the day. I’m constantly yelling at the TV when I hear something nonsensical said about a company or about basic economic principles. I felt that TV reporting was too limited for viewers who are really into the content. That, combined with the thousands of people in the financial services industry who believe they have something valuable to say led me to thinking about building a web based tool to give them the ability to report live without having to own a TV station to do it.”

McSpurren also says that level or frustration can also often be felt in sports, politics, and any other live venue where instant commentary may be of interest to some people.

“Instead of trying to get my personal perspective out there on the financial markets or sports, I decided to build a piece of software for everyone to use and let the readers decide who should be heard from or not.”

CoveritLive was released in August and McSpurren has been in constant contact with those who signed up to use the product to get their input in improving the software. McSpurren says he’s interested in how events are covered and feels CoveritLive will make that task better.

“Our technology is fairly advanced to deliver our software but user experience is really drawn from a lot of tools that are available today, instant messaging, polling, streaming video, online storage etc.”

Right now CoveritLive is free for all bloggers who wish to give it a try. McSpurren says depending on the success of the product, there may be opportunities for him to charge for premium upgrades or include banner ads in future versions of the software.

I must admit that during my first attempt at live blogging SportsCenter last week, I became sold on the concept of CoveritLive. It has huge potential. If someone else has a similar product, let me know about it. I’d be glad to try it out and review it here. I do plan to use CoveritLive again in the future. Stay tuned for more.

In terms of my other reservations on live blogging…I still feel that CoveritLive would work extremely well for the live blogging of sporting events that are not readily accessible to a large audience. Alums of a small college not living near the school could get the feeling they are at the big game through a live blog using software like CoveritLive.

I still do not see myself (although I am closer now than I was a month ago) joining in on a live blog of an event like the Super Bowl because I would be so focused watching the game that I wouldn’t also be online at the same time. But if CoveritLive is being used…I may be persuaded.

Why Live Blog?

I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to trends in technology and the sharing of information.  Heck, I started a blog, didn’t I?

But there is one aspect of blogging that I cannot entirely embrace…the practice of live blogging.

First of all, let’s all agree that live blogging is a misnomer.  Live blogging is by no means live.  I refuse to use the term any further.  Let’s call it what it is…event blogging or, in the world of sports, in-game blogging.   By the time a blogger pens an in-game post and it’s sent to the blog, appropriate time has passed to classify the information as old news. 

I’m not saying that event blogging doesn’t have its place.  If you’re a blogger at an exclusive event, or one that is not well attended,  providing insight from that event adds some exclusivity for the blogger.  The inside scoop if you will.

Much was made last spring when the NCAA came down on Brian Bennett of the Louisville Courier-Journal for providing in-game blogging of an NCAA Regional Baseball game involving the Louisville Cardinals.  Bennett had his credential revoked, with the NCAA claiming he violated a rule of providing “live” updates of an event to which he did not have the rights. 

What I find puzzling is in-game blogging of a sporting event like the World Series.  What information can one blogging from the event provide readers that they aren’t getting from the nationally televised broadcast of the game?  It makes no sense to me.

Looking at the four major newspapers that cover the Red Sox and the Rockies in Game 1, three of the four have blogs for the teams.  Both Boston papers, the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, provided in-game blogging of the Sox’ 13-1 rout of Colorado.  In Denver, only the Denver Post provides a sports blog on the Rockies, but there was no in-game coverage of Game 1.

Back to Boston, Rob Bradford’s Herald Blog provided more than just what was happening on the field.  Bradford mixed in statistics and notes that was probably not noted by Joe Buck or Tim McCarver on Fox.  That’s great, but how many people were glued to their computer monitor waiting for these tidbits?  Bradford could have easily assembled those facts and posted them as part of the Herald’s online post game coverage.

The most disappointing in-game blogging came from the Boston Globe.  In its Extra Bases Blog, reporter Amalie Benjamin used the space to rehash what happened after each inning.  I’m sorry, that’s a waste of good bandwidth. 

The Herald, Globe, and Denver Post do a good job of using their blogs to provide the pre-game flavor at Fenway Park.  That’s cool.  You won’t get that information in too many places.  That has a purpose. 

The newspapers are not alone in providing this useless in-game blogging.  Many independent blogs also attempt the practice.  At least the reporters at the game can provide some insight into the action.  Independent bloggers often provide nothing in terms of pertinent information.  The independent bloggers often use this in-game blogging as a way to criticize and mock either the players, announcers, or both.  Again, why can’t they assemble this material for a comprehensive post-game post?  Why is the in-game aspect a draw?

As much as I don’t think in-game blogging is effective I would never say a blogger shouldn’t partake in the process.  I’m sure if there wasn’t an audience they wouldn’t do it.  It’s just not for me.