Category Archives: 3. Weekly Commentary: Reporting 4806

Weekly Report: Humbled by traffic; official class enrollment to-date

Two alumni of Mizzou football made major draft headlines when Aldon Smith and Blaine Gabbert were both selected in the top 10 draft picks in the first round.

We tasked ourselves with being one of the first to get up a post and pair it with a tweet. I had a skeleton of the Blaine Gabbert story ready to go, and once they made the official announcement I added in a couple team-specific details, posted and tweeted.

Nine people read the story. I’ve posted out of focus pictures that generate more traffic than that on their first day in circulation. Another contributor wrote up a post about Aldon Smith, who shocked just about everybody by being selected ahead of Gabbert by the team most believed coveted a good young quarterback, and that post drummed up a bit more interest, but still struggled in relative terms. At first glance, this really bothered me. Upon further reflection, the dirth makes sense.

Consider how our least read text stories tend to be same-night game recaps . While game nights and the day immediately following tend to spike, we usually have between three and five posts. Our instant game recaps are news most people already know, and so was the draft. Beyond the final score, or in this case the draft position of Smith and Gabbert, the average fan or reader doesn’t necessarily want or need a long form explanation and analysis.

Either that or I really need to work on SEO. We have zero search engine referrers today, an unusual occurrence for the site. Perhaps a reworking of the bland “Former Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert picked 10th by Jacksonville with 10th overrall pick” is in order.

In other news, we have precisely five people signed up for the class so far. Our most recent applicant is a strat comm major, which we did not intentionally disregard but nevertheless overlooked. It’s an exciting cross-platform thought. It’s all journalism, right?

Weekly Report: Senioritis

I mentioned the great success the site enjoyed when we began posting every day in an earlier post. Now, as one of our journalists prepares for the leap to the Huffington Post and another maintains a Comcast Sports Net blog for pay, and I prepare for finals and my final semester, our posting quota has swept itself into the recesses of our subconscious. The traffic has responded in kind, although the valleys around days without posts are higher than they were before the implementation of our quota, which in a certain light seems to represent progress.

The deadline for a topics course passed before our team had a chance to fulfill the required criteria, so our class next semester will officially be an independent study taught by Karen Mitchell. At last count, four people had signed up after she sent out a listserv email. We require at least one newsroom class, and Karen really wants to weave some by-trade photojournalists into the fold.

I’ll leave you with the rough outline of our syllabus up to this point in the semester. Karen, as the teacher of the class, worries about the syllabus tailoring itself too much to the sustainability of KBIA Sports, at the possible expense of academia. (Syllabus crafted by JJ Stankevitz, to be honed in conjunction with the rest of us)

Weekly Report: Official absorption and a passing of the torch

The biggest piece of news from our week: our absorption into KBIA.org is imminent, said KBIA Membership Coordinator Shannon Watkins to be possible by the end of the semester or the end of the summer, depending on how the present group of “admins” (those of us contributing to the site, from founder JJ Stankevitz to editor Karen Mitchell and director Darren Hellwege) decide to proceed.

Upon further research, I discovered absorption can be done in three steps, which would require about 20 minutes of logistical change-over such as the individual URL change, a new banner with KBIA Sports as opposed to KBIA Sports Extra, and establishing for the first time different levels of involvement for contributors as opposed to editors. We must decide on a structure of the site for next semester that manages who can post stories straight to the site, and who can only edit and must obtain approval. We still hope to have graduate involvement to solve the editing quandary, but if that does not happen, the focus group in attendance this week (Darren, Shannon, Karen) believes there still must be a division between the first draft of students work and an AP-checked story without errors, grammatical or otherwise. This semester, our team has utilized an editing-by-committee model. We all have “administrator” status on the site, so we can fix minute errors we see in stories as we see them.

In my mind, the ideal solution is different posting accounts for different beats next semester. Reporters could include a byline at the top of their stories, as Darren does now, but the posting entity would only be visible as “KBIA Sports Mens Basketball,” for example. An editing person, ideally a graduate editor, would have this access, while individual reporters may only write a story/post a photo gallery or video to “Pending Approval,” to be approved and posted by the editor.  For news that must break immediately, a “KBIA Sports Breaking News” account could be used by anyone, and posts could be edited and updated on the fly as they are in other newsrooms.

With the elimination of the “wordpress” portion of the web address, KBIA will also want to switch up the look of the site slightly, with four or five displayed stories cycling through as they do on the KBIA.org homepage now. The theme we have now may have that capability, but we have not found out how to insert it simply as of yet.

We found help files that detail the conversion of an existing blog to a subdomain of an existing website and the assigning of editing/admin roles and capabilities.

To me, this process seems simple enough for us to make the change almost immediately. The site as it appears now would fit with the general brand of KBIA enough as we feel out method of story display and other nit-picky details. The issue of posting capability has not actually surfaced as a major problem up to this point in the semester, and even if it arose in the immediate future, the assignment of the aforementioned roles and capabilities can be changed at any time. Shannon wants to retain the template we utilize for the site now, with that story display tweak added.

She said she just has to sit down and feel it out. In an ideal world, maybe we could be on KBIA.org before our final presentation in two weeks.

Weekly Report: Survey gives us some anecdotal help

Here’s a couple helpful responses/data from the survey. We don’t have enough for the results to be statistically valid by any means (27), but it’s still telling early-on I suppose.

Interested in Sports: Split almost exactly half and half between interested and not.

Of those who did not want to do Sports, half liked sports but preferred covering other things. No one checked the “Sports reporting is not in-depth or multi-media friendly enough for me.”

Of those interested, almost a third (31.6%) disagreed with the statement, “the Missouri School of Journalism provides a sufficient amount of courses specific to sports journalism.” Half that number (15.8%) agreed with the statement. 42% of respondents answered I don’t know.  See some of the more telling responses below the stats portion of this email.

Of 19 people who didn’t skip the question, only 3 said they were “very likely” to pursue a career in Sports. The others split half-and-half between “not at all likely” and “somewhat likely.”

Half of the respondents interested in Sports Journalism classified themselves as “die hard.” One fourth considered themselves dedicated, three watched only the super bowl. 10% classified themselves as more than die hard.

Medium: 3 of every 4 respondents wanted to write. Photography 65%. Blogging 65%. Videography 60%. Radio 50%. Information graphics 40%.

Most respondents had covered sports on a personal blog or had not covered sports at all. About a third had covered sports for class credit and been graded on their work.

One of the respondents was Lynda, and another Karen. I don’t believe any of those quoted responses came from them.

What changes, if any, would you like to see to the availability of sports journalism classes?

To have them. [3/8/11 1:40AM]

I’d like the options to be more prominent. I know there are reporters at every newsroom that cover sports specifically, and there may very well be a course for it, but I haven’t heard of it. My one reporting experience was to do multimedia for a sports reporter at The Missourian and, as much as I enjoyed it, I had no idea how to shoot video of someone playing basketball in the most aesthetically pleasing way. [3/17/11 10:45PM]

Specific sports journalism reporting classes on all media platforms. [3/17/11 11:04PM]

I would like to see them promoted more, I didn’t know we had any![3/17/11 11:25PM ]

More information on what is available. I did not even know these classes were available to students.[3/18/11 12:40AM]

More options, opportunities [3/18/11 1:23AM]

More opportunities for beat blogging, online content, etc. [3/18/11 1:41AM ]

I would love to see a class on reporting about the business behind sports!!! [3/18/11 1:47AM]

Moving forward, these responses give us ammunition as we continue to hone our model and try to convince faculty inside and outside of the convergence program to follow suit.  We are attempting to set up a focus group before Spring Break. Stay tuned.

Weekly Report: Shameless self promotion

I knew after I interviewed Mizzou guard Kim English last week that it had been my best interview in sports journalism to date.

I was only supposed to ask him about Twitter for my colleague Chris Spurlock’s “Tweeting Tigers” infographic. Leading an interview with a paltry filler question like that, though, made me think I would look bad in front of Kim English. Can’t have that.

So I followed up on a question from another reporter earlier in the media day: “how do you feel about the Carmelo Anthony situation, any thoughts?”

“I’m just worried about Mizzou basketball,” he said, and left it at that.

After they had cleared out and I had a chance to interview him on-one-one (no way in hell I was asking him a question about his twitter in front of professional and student journalists), I asked him if he had changed his game to be more like Carmelo’s. In a roundabout way he said, no..but maybe sometimes, yes.

His answer led me to ask what he had worked on this summer , asked whether or not he had had a chance to improve those skills at Mizzou.

The quotes he gave me allowed me to write a story that one of our founders complimented me for “not editorializing” and allowing English to tell. It also seemed to answer a question that everyone who follows Mizzou basketball has wondered all season: What happened to Kimmy, our most promising player from last year?

It received 1,101 hits as of this moment in less than a week of circulation. It’s the top-grossing text piece we’ve ever had, although the fledgling sports coverage began just before football season last August.

It trails behind the video of fans rushing the field after the Oklahoma game, a dog rising from the yellow sea of fans and staring straight at the camera. In the words of founder JJ Stankevitz, “it’s a traffic juggernaut.” Videos like those have viral capability. They may not be award-winning journalism, but they may help put you on the map. One doesn’t post those videos to go viral necessarily, but when it happens, it happens.

Shameless self-promotion aside, this story helped us get a better view of the impact KBIA Sports Extra can have outside of landmark game interest traffic like what the site experienced slightly before my time–I was doing work for KCTV5 then–after the victory over #1 Oklahoma.

As a result, we were able to disseminate the story out to more outlets here than any other previous stories. It disproved something I hoped against all along, that no matter how great of work we could do, we’re ultimately up against a wall doing multimedia coverage for a radio station.

Instead, our traffic has continued to spike since we began holding ourselves to a per-day content quota. This story, and a story produced by graphics ace Chris, both made their rounds locally despite the lack of burgeoning interest produced by, say, a victory over the best football team in the country.

If we can keep building on this momentum as basketball season wanes, it would be a very promising sign for our sustainability going forward.

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.

It’s been a busy few days! I’ve picked up a few clips since the last post, and I’ve inserted the line-up here. Feel free to read through them!

I’ve come this to reporting on the one thing I think about more than anything on this earth: jerseys, uniforms…the design of them, the changes, the alternates. I can’t get enough of it. Does anyone else care? I’m not sure.

By the numbers: Why can’t I buy a No. 32 Steve Moore jersey?

Black, white or gold Mizzou basketball replica jerseys line the racks of the MU bookstore and other licensed retailers. Most feature number 24 screen printed on material apparently authentic enough to justify a tab between 60 and 80 dollars. When … Continue reading

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PHOTOS: Mizzou holds on to beat Texas Tech

Mizzou held on to the lead at home to squeak past a competitive Texas Tech team with well documented road woes. Marcus Denmon led the game in scoring with 20 points, 18 in the first half, for the Tigers. Texas … Continue reading

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Mizzou’s old guard thrives off the bench at home; Denmon OK

As first-year players on this Tiger team develop a feel for the fastest 40 minutes in basketball, players with years of experience in the system like Justin Safford, Kim English, and Michael Dixon have, on occasion, seen their starting spots … Continue reading

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PHOTOS: Mizzou men rout Oklahoma at Mizzou Arena

Mizzou showed up to play and beat a team they were favored to beat, dominating Oklahoma 84-61 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. Mizzou guard Michael Dixon led all scorers with 16. Missouri committed fewer turnovers, fewer fouls, and had a … Continue reading

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PHOTOS: Mizzou romps Colorado 89-73 at Mizzou Arena

Mizzou defeated Colorado on the back of strong guard play at Mizzou Arena in Columbia on Saturday, February 5, 2011. Missouri guard Kim English had a stellar performance and tied for the game high in scoring with 21 points with … Continue reading

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Mizzou rides dominant guard play past Colorado 89-73

In a Big 12 battle of the black-and-golds, the Tigers romped to a 89-73 victory over Colorado at Mizzou Arena on Saturday. Missouri held a 16 point lead at halftime and held onto it through a more competitive second half … Continue reading

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