If weather cooperates, I will be leaving tomorrow to cover the business of the Super Bowl live from Dallas. But Friday night, after I do my last on air appearance, I’m boarding a plane and flying home before the game.
What am I doing?
Well, after 10 straight Super Bowls attended in person, a changing media environment has me realizing that I can do my job better staying at home.
Because people expect me to comment on anything associated with the business of the game, from how certain star players capitalize based on a performance to what companies had the best commercials and watching the game in the press box or the bowels of the stadium just isn’t the best place for me to be anymore.
Given the immediate response my readers expect of me, I simply can’t leave it up to the network at the stadium or my proximity to the TV to affect how quickly I can respond or how fast I notice a particular thing that happens in the game.
The big payoff I always waited for used to be after the game when I got to ask the star an endorsement related question. But waiting for that one line, that every journalist standing there will hear and can use anyway, isn’t worth what I’m missing by not having a 55-inch TV in front of my face. It isn’t worth waiting for that line when my readers are more interested in what I’m writing during the game than after it.
"During the Super Bowl, we are all Troy Aikman," said Dan Shanoff, founder of Quickish.com, a real-time news service that launched last month that filters Twitter and other "live" media for the best commentary. "In fact, the real-time online commentary experience is better than any analysis you will get from TV, because there is such a variety of voices, many with really interesting things to say about the game.”
Every medium change challenges us sports journalists to be better and better. Long time newspaper columnists who were loved by the locals had to step it up when the Internet came along. All of a sudden, talent could come from anywhere, from anyone, from any age. Beat reporters had to increase their filing speed as competition for a game story didn’t come in the morning, it came that night from those who had a quicker publishing medium.
"There’s actually an argument to be made that there is more interest in commentary while the game is going on than after it. If that's not the case today, it will be the case tomorrow. Wait until after the game to write something, it has already been said."
Well, live blogging and Twitter has changed the game again. Filing a column at the end of the game isn’t good enough anymore. If you are reporter covering a team or a league, you have to be reporting throughout the game. There’s actually an argument to be made that there is more interest in commentary while the game is going on than after it. If that's not the case today, it will be the case tomorrow. Wait until after the game to write something, it has already been said.
And just like any talented writer watching a game on the couch could write a better article than a journalist sitting in the press box, anyone – even with the smallest following—can immediately make a poignant comment on Twitter and it can be heard around the world.
Journalists are no longer protected by the platform anymore. And what that means is that they have to be on all platforms. Just like they want to write the best column or file the best TV report, they have to want to write the best blogs and write the best tweets.
"If you, as a journalist, aren't participating in the real-time stream during big sports events— whether you are doing that from the game or your couch—you're now actively avoiding part of the game experience that fans want to be having," Shanoff said.
Seven years ago, I was at Super Bowl XXXVIII and thought I had a great story after the game. I didn’t know until I got back to my hotel, three hours after the game ended, that I had missed the biggest story – Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction. Had Twitter been around at the time, I would have been toast. I would have missed the story.
So, it's not that I don't want to be at the Super Bowl, I just know it's not the smartest place for me to be.
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