A collection of thoughts on a season of credentialed sports blogging – part one

An introduction, what I mean by this title, and why it’s part one: 

Over the next couple weeks I wanted to reflect on my experiences covering the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season as a sports blogger with press credentials.  My aim is to explore the “role” of a sports blogger with “access” to the team they write about and follow, as opposed to my experiences as a “credentialed media member” this past season covering the Cavs.  While I was that, and did that – in some senses – my goal is to work towards answering the question: if you are a sports blogger who is granted media access, what are you supposed to do when you’re there?

If this series of posts ends up being read by somebody who can take something from it that they can use to his or her benefit on their credentialed trip to an arena or stadium one day that’s great, I’d literally be thrilled.  I’m not pretending that will happen though, nor am I trying to impersonate any type of authority on this particular subject either.  My intent in writing this is far more self-centered.  My goal is to summarize my thoughts essentially, but most importantly to write down and identify the questions or ideas that popped into my head over the course of the season before I forget.  All in the name of working towards answering that aforementioned “what are you [read what am I] supposed to do when you’re there” question.

When I first walked through the door on media day, I didn’t really have any type of poignant strategy or plan for what I wanted my “coverage” to consist of this year.  I basically just thought it was really cool that I was at media day, and that I would be soon going to any game that I wanted to during the upcoming season.  Free of charge, on the court during shoot-a-round, and in the locker room post-game.  I don’t think I’m unlike a number of other sports bloggers in that respect either, who find themselves in a similar position for the first time.  

The whole notion of developing a  “strategy” or “plan” for “my coverage” never even dawned on me back then to be honest.  I actually walked around media day with my i-pod taking video that ended up having no sound with the exception of heavy breathing from yours truly that was both worthless to use and embarrassing if I had.  So in the spirit of improving my use of the sports blog medium, I thought a trip back through the season by way of mentioning these topics that emerged for me personally might help me develop a coherent plan for next time around.  Plus there’s a lot of time to kill here between now and the draft.

First one – Right, it’s cool you’re so “close to the action” I guess, but camera-phone pictures are pointless:

So I found myself on the court during shoot-a-round for the first couple games of the season and that was admittedly awesome initially.  Antawn Jamison, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce, Tyreke Evans, or whoever else is right in front of me and I’m literally leaning up against the hoop just trying to act cool while taking it all in.  Basketballs are bouncing around me, I’m listening to the players talk amongst themselves about whatever, hearing the assistant coaches coach these guys up during pregame drills, and I initially think to myself the following:

This is awesome.  Media access is in full effect for me starting now.  I’m on the court, time to do something to capitalize on, or document, this moment in Stepien Rules history.  Got it, I’ll take some pictures and post them on twitter first and then my blog later.  Action shots, that one can only get with access like I have right now.  Time to pull out my camera-phone and start firing away!    

So I pull out said camera-phone, and after a few tries I get a good shot of Daniel Gibson shooting a jump-shot.  I email it to myself right away, and think that I gotta get this up quick because look how awesome it is.  I’m obviously standing on the court when I took it, and so far so good.  Count me as a guy who’s making the most of his press pass, and the game hasn’t even started yet.  Only, who cares about these pictures I just took?

Lesson learned after a few games: There are people who already court-side taking pictures and they are called photographers.  Professionals, specialists, with HD Cameras who take glossy, terrific pictures, of much more exciting moments in sports than a Daniel Gibson 15-footer during warm-ups.  If somebody wants a picture of Daniel Gibson for whatever reason, they’ll find one posted on the internet by one of those people.  A good picture, taken by a pro, not a camera-phone photo.  Even if you were standing within reach of the ball falling through the net when you took it.  

Adjustment made:  Simply stated, Flip-Cam.  After a few games I realized the worthlessness of my camera-phone pictures, and made the couple hundred dollar investment in a Flip-Cam.  It actually showed up on my porch just prior to LeBron’s December 2nd trip to the Q, which couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.  Anyways, the flip-cam’s a do-it-all-in-one tool that’s pretty easy to use for somebody trying to add a little bit of original photos and videosto their website.  Also kinda helps capitalize on a court-side position without too much effort.  The Flip-Cam’s small – not like you’re lugging around equipment of any sort – and I kept that stashed in my pocket unless I thought it worth breaking out.  Sometimes I’d roll tape on what I thought might end up being a decent video, and some other times I’d even just video something thinking I’d break still shots out of it later.  For an amateur photog, the ability to freeze-frame video and pull out snap-shots (in HD) from the Flip-cam is a much better way to go about things.  Doesn’t look as blurry and stupid as a camera-phone would, and it’s a good way to comfortably capture whatever type of moment you think’s worth capturing.  

Thursday: Part Two – Press conferences, asking questions, and my arm hurts from holding out this voice recorder

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.