Weekly Commentary: Research and Sustainability

Over at KBIA Sports Extra, our team has moved beyond simple content creation–covering games and media days, writing feature pieces, etc–into the research and sustainability realm.

The Missouri School of Journalism has explored the possibility of a Sports Journalism “Interest area,” one of almost thirty emphasis areas in the newly restructured J school program.

Our sports coverage–still hosted by wordpress as we await our status as KBIA affiliates; we must answer whether or not we sustain this adjunct after many of us graduate–has enjoyed a spike in traffic since we grabbed specific days to post. My stories air Sundays and Wednesdays. Our other three core contributors picked up the rest, and our director at KBIA, Darren Hellwege, and photo point person Karen Mitchell also contribute content from time to time.

Non-revenue generating sports, we discovered, fail to generate significant traffic. Women’s basketball stories go nowhere, and baseball seems to have similar issues. We drafted our first research survey to disseminate throughout the student body to try and explore two things.

First, what do people want to read about? Traffic indicates they only care about football and men’s basketball, but we also have only begun to establish a brand presence. Perhaps niches exist for the wrestling team, gymnastics, women’s ball, volleyball, baseball…who knows? That’s what we want to find out, using more than site visits and page clicks as to find the truth underneath it all. Visits and clicks really only tell you so much anyway.

Second, what kind of content do people want to see? Our traffic tends to peak on non-game days, and valley during game-days and the day immediately following a game. Readers can find game synopses and photos of the game anywhere. Highlights, while less abundant, typically run in a professional fashion through the TV stations in town. We use sony handheld cameras: expensive for the common consumer, but comparably feeble relative to the massive shoulder mounts the station uses.

We should begin to answer these and other questions in the coming weeks. Research never goes nearly as fast as I would like it to, so don’t hold your breath. We’re going to try and do this right, as best we can.

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