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Let’s Get Digital!

New Media is Changing the Face of Sports Journalism

Written by Guest Writer: Coby Rich, Delta State University

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In this instant gratification world who has time to read anymore? With the rising popularity of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, among others, people are becoming less likely to take the time to read articles like in the past. It has been a challenge keeping people interested in traditional print media in all subjects and has certainly affected sports journalism. How do you keep people’s attention and reach new fans?

Glad you asked!

Since everyone in the world (a bit of exaggeration) is on some sort of social media site, many journalists and other media outlets are joining in on the party. Most of your potential fans or readers are now always on the go and they are receiving their news from smartphones rather than sitting in front of a desktop like in years past. As a journalist it is important to embrace these new changes and cater to your audience. That, of course, is if you still want to be gainfully employed.

Universities around the country are embracing this new digital movement and taking it one step further when it comes to coverage of their athletics. Vlogs, blogs, and social media marketing campaigns are beginning to become the norm when visiting college athletic websites. Fans are more apt to view a video or read a short contemporary blog rather than reading a full length article. Readers want to be engaged and have unprecedented access to their teams.

Now I am not saying that print media is dead, it is very important and will always be needed. All the new media and multimedia developments are simply an additive in order to get your readers interested in reading your content. The articles and stories are the most important part of covering your athletic teams on a college campus, but the multimedia items are going to keep your fans on your page for a longer period of time.

Using new media and multimedia on college athletic websites is a very new and fresh market. As a matter of fact, universities are now hiring people who are well versed in multimedia specifically to change the face of their athletic programs. New media in collegiate athletics is becoming almost a necessity in today’s digital world and smart universities are capitalizing on this trend.

Now you might ask yourself what exactly is new media and multimedia coverage?

New media is any kind of social media or blogs that engage fans. For example, live blogging during sporting events has become an exciting new technology that has been sweeping college athletics. The live blog is easy to set up, cost-efficient and a unique way to involve fans in the game. In particular, live blogging is good for your niche sports such as swimming & diving and wrestling.

Multimedia consists of any new piece of equipment that will help give inside access to your readers that they cannot get anywhere else. Whether it is a Flip Vid or a GoPro camera, multimedia items are unique, easy to use and wildly popular amongst fans. These cameras and new devices are also cost friendly, ranging from $100 to $300, so even smaller colleges can enjoy the benefits of adding this to their sites.

Working at a small Division II NCAA school such as Delta State University, having a small staff sometimes creates a problem. One weekend due to scheduling difficulties our softball team was taking a road trip without any media representative to cover them for the weekend. We equipped one of the injured softball team members with a Flip Vid and it resulted in one of the most popular videos we had produced the entire year. The video took the viewer inside the dugouts and really caught the emotion of the players and coaches.

When fans, parents and alumni of your university see videos like that it makes them feel much more connected to the team. This makes them more interested and draws them to follow the teams closer and gets them interested in reading the articles on the athletic page. Not only can you add these pieces to your website you can also link all items to your social media sites (because these are a necessity these days) to gain more exposure for your teams. This gets more fans excited about their teams and more importantly gets them in the seats.

I once heard a saying that your writers are your rock stars (no, I did not make that up). Hardcore fans will always want to read about their teams but the multimedia and new media produced pieces are going to grab their attention like nothing else. The use of the internet and smartphones is always rising so the coverage of college athletics is simply keeping up with the times and producing more digital media content than ever before.

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new media in sports expert coby richCoby Rich is completing a Graduate Assistantship with the athletics department at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Originally from Beaumont, Texas he has always been fascinated with sports and took an interesting journey to fulfilling his dream of working in sports journalism.

After graduating from McMurry University, where he lettered in football for four years, with a degree in Communications/Public Relations Rich interned at KTAB/KRBC in Abilene, Texas. The next step for in his journey saw him working as a News Editor for 12 News HD in Beaumont, Texas for a year before pursuing his Masters degree and breaking into the new field of Multi Media relations at Delta State University. He wants to continue his career in sports journalism and hopes to continue working in sports for the rest of his life.

You can follow Coby on Twitter: @CobyRich35 and read more on his blog: cobyrich.blogspot.com

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