Reporting live from a sports games, sharing tweets, links and video

Last Thursday’s football coverage in Ann Arbor was an experiment in engagement and I would say the jury is still out on the results.

I met Heritage Newspapers-West Sports Editor Terry Jacoby at Huron High School’s stadium in Ann Arbor, where the River Rats were taking on the Monroe Trojans. I was early and took advantage of that by interviewing some cheerleaders on my Flip camera. I asked them what they thought the outcome would be and asked them to demonstrate a cheer. I also shot some “B” roll of the band as it made its way on the field in preparation for a video I planned to upload by half-time to show Jacoby it could be done.

I then made the climb up to the press box. It was my first time there, but no one seemed to mind the presence of a newcomer. They just let me do my thing.

I set up the Netbook and a couple people warned me that I wouldn’t be able to get wireless and that I would have to step outside for it. But no worries, I have a Verizon account built in to my Netbook and it wasn’t a problem. It didn’t hurt that that cellular tower was just feet away from the football field.

So, as the game got under way, I shot more video on my Flip. It was a rather large distance and no zoom, but I could see the plays. I also tweeted first and 10, and the first two touchdowns. But when I monitored the interaction on the A2Journal Twitter account, I noticed some of my followers didn’t like the play-by-play reports. So, in response, I scaled it back to updates on scores at each quarter.

I also popped on Facebook and did the same from the A2 Journal news and sports pages.

Just before half-time, I started producing the video. It took quite a while to process it and then convert it to a size manageable for the web before uploading it to our website.

By the third quarter, the video was up and I shared the links on Facebook and Twitter, and I felt as if I had accomplished something.

Jacoby stopped by at half-time and the end of the game, but spent the rest of the time near the sidelines shooting his own video and staying close to the action. I talked to him at half-time about the tweeting and posting updates on Facebook, but he doesn’t seem to be a “press box” type of reporter. I think the answer is putting the iPhone in his hands next game so he can do it from the sidelines. At half-time he can go to the press box to produce the video and post it online using the Netbook.

Another alternative I offered to him was getting an intern from the high school to assist him in engaging the audience electronically.

Now, I say the jury is still out on engagement because I think we have some work to do first in letting the audience know what we’re doing. Jacoby needs to let print readers know of our plans in advance with some teasers and he also needs to participate because it was me doing all of the work for this particular effort.

I can measure some engagement in terms of the feedback that I received on Twitter, as well 11 views on the video I produced –– low but not bad considering other sports videos have 0 to five views, with one exception in the 40-view range for a video produced by Jacoby covering Chelsea –– and the comments on Facebook.

The true measure, however, will be once every sports reporter embraces technology as a tool, and the audience knows what we’re doing and interacts with us. True success then can be measured in the level of audience engagement through chatter and shared links on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, as well as hits on our online stories and videos.

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One Comment on “Reporting live from a sports games, sharing tweets, links and video”

  1. Scott Held Says:

    I think tweeting play-by-play from high school games is kind of inane: Most anyone who’d want to know what’s going on is at the field, after all.

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