By Kelli Grashel, AWSM at OSU President
On Feb. 17, two dozen members of the sports media gathered in Oklahoma City to eat, meet and hear a panel discussion.
The topic: the current relationship between media members and the teams, athletes and coaches that they cover.
The panel discussed some of the challenges faced by both media relations representatives and those covering the teams. Teams, athletes and coaches are now able to promote themselves on their own networks, websites and social media outlets, and those increasing avenues have created an age of diminishing access.
The panelists for the evening’s discussion were Bob Barry Jr., sports director at KFOR-TV; Karina Henderson, manager of corporate communications for the Oklahoma City Thunder; Kevin Klintworth, senior associate athletics director for communications at Oklahoma State; Gina Mizell, Oklahoma State football beat writer at The Oklahoman; Kenny Mossman, senior associate athletics director for external operations at Oklahoma; and Mike Sherman, sports editor at The Oklahoman.
One of the first topics discussed was how access to players and coaches has changed for the media. Mizell explained how access has changed in just her few years covering Oklahoma State. Klintworth and Mossman explained from the media relations’ side that access to practice and interview policies are mostly decisions made by coaches.
The panelists also discussed how much the busy lives of student-athletes could affect media availability. On a regular day, student-athletes have morning workouts, class, tutoring, practice and sometimes media availability on top of that. Add to the fact that many football and basketball players have been doing interviews since they were high school recruits, and their desire to talk to the media after practice may be a battle for media relations staff.
Additionally, the never-ending news cycle created by the Internet has changed the nature of traditional media and coaches have felt like they needed to close ranks.
It was pointed out that a vast majority of sports at the collegiate level have plenty of access but many people are only mindful of football access, which is extremely limited at most colleges. Panelists mentioned how often times basketball practices are open while football might just have media availability once a week. This contributes to the frustrations of many journalists. The media relations side of the panel argued that there is a much larger number of players to control with football.
One of the last subjects discussed was how relationships between media and sources has been affected by the change in access. Panelists reminisced on a time when journalists had dinners with athletes, went to practice and were constantly around. However, in a new age of fast-acting social media, teams are forced to be more careful with their accessibility.
The panel discussion lasted more than a hour, and everyone in attendance left with an AWSM mouse pad and membership brochures.