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Dec. Newsletter

Sports Information Directors see declining value in newspaper coverage Dec. 29, 2009

Mike Enright, Connecticut’s Associate Athletic Director/Communications, has strong feelings about the newspaper industry.

He’ll tell you how he used to go to loading docks to get his copy as early as possible. And he’ll also tell you that there may come a time when he won’t need newspapers or its related web sites to publicize UConn athletics.

He believes the day may come where UConn fans will pay to read uconnhuskies.com plus its Facebook and Twitter extensions to feed the appetite that sports sections used to fill.

“We used to be quite bland,’’ he said. “Now, we tweet with the best of them. We have 5,000 follows of our Twitter page and, candidly, a lot of people are getting their news that way.’’

Enright and Worcester Poly Tech’s Rusty Eggen met with members of APSE’s Northeast Region at its meeting in Worcester earlier this month about the changing role of sports information directors. Both emphasized the importance of social media in their jobs.

“Our athletic director (Jeffrey Hathaway) is emphasizing social media,’’ Enright said. “Forty percent of our budget is for development of social media. It’s where we’re going. It’s going to become more and more a focus of our job.’’

Enright can envision a time (he estimated it was at least five years away) when UConn would limit the use of video of its coaches and teams on newspaper web sites similar to rules the NFL and Major League Baseball employ.

The school is exploring new revenue streams by selling ads to go along with its new emphasis on providing in-depth content, similar to the current newspaper/website models.

Enright cited Facebook as the reason for the quick dissemination of the news of the murder of UConn defensive back Jasper Howard.

“That’s how newspapers found out about it,’’ he said.

Eggen, whose school plays at the Division 3 level, recognizes that mainstream media has reduced its college cover and feels his school’s website (http://wpi.prestosports.com) is the best opportunity to reach his audience.

“If we get something in the T&G (Worcester Telegraph & Gazette), on Channel 3 (WCTR in Worcester) or in the Globe, it’s usually going to be short,’’ he said. “I’ll be able to tell the whole story on our web site.’’

Eggen still holds a full-blown story in a newspaper in high value. Enright still sees some value in it but feels it’s declining.

“It used to be the job of an SID was to call the papers,’’ he said. “Now, if we’ve got a guy from Boston, we’re going to write the story ourselves and put it on our web site. The profile can be sponsored. We can say to our sponsors, why advertise in the Hartford Courant, advertise on uconnhuskies.com.’’

Joe Sullivan is sports editor of the Boston Globe. You can reach him at (617) 929-2845 or via e-mail at jtsullivan@globe.com.

Officers

Mary Byrne

Mary Byrne

President
ESPN.com

Tommy Deas

Tommy Deas

First Vice President
The Tuscaloosa News

Jack Berninger

Jack Berninger

Executive Director
Richmond Times-Dispatch
(retired)

Bill Eichenberger

Bill Eichenberger

Secretary/Treasurer
Bleacher Report

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