Opinion: Twitter Blurs the Line Between Media-Fans

I’m listening to the podcast in the link above right now. A topic of discussion going on at the moment is: Do fans really care about sports media stories? A fascinating topic that, with social media, is ever-evolving in importance.

The dynamics of the media-fan relationship have changed. It used to be the only real contact fans ever had with a sportswriter was reading their stories/columns in the newspaper.Yes fans could write a “Letter to the Editor” but there was never a guarantee that the newspaper would actually print the letter.

As talk radio has grown, sports media took to the airwaves. Fans could call in to their show and make “opinions” known to the listening audience, not to mention, their local sports media. Combine the local radio with national radio (ESPN, Fox Sports) and fans had a voice in giving sports opinions.

I haven’t even touched on what the internet has done. Message boards, emails, blogging, comments on a sportswriter’s column or post, the opportunities are endless for fans to vocalize. In some cases that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Yet, it’s a door that has been opened and should remain.

Which brings us to social media; in particular Twitter. I have written on this before in that for a fan like me, it is a valuable resource. It is not just a matter of a sportswriter telling me the story from their perspective. I am fascinated as to the why or the background. What makes people tick is something I believe brings another dimension to a story.

Sports media, in my estimation, has adopted, embraced and utilized Twitter greater than any other occupation, outside of “social media experts”. Granted, I’m a bit biased but. the level of interaction I have seen by sports media with each other and fans is amazing. Sports media tweeps interact with fans. It’s not as though they are always just tweeting AT YOU, although truth be told, there are too many that do that for my tastes.

As a fan, you can gain insight and understanding that you never could with just a newspaper or a radio show. No more writing letters to the editor or posting on a message board or commenting on a writer’s article on a website. In 140 characters or less, you can get an answer to your question, from 2, 3 or 10 different media writers. Then, it is up to YOU to sift through the answers and form your own opinion.

Which brings me back to the topic on the podcast: Do fans care about sports media stories?

In a short answer: No. Well, at least not yet for most fans. For someone like me who finds the dynamic interesting, yes I do care. Why did Bruce Feldman stop tweeting all of a sudden this summer? Why do some not receive credit from other media sources? Why do some national sports networks allow their employees more freedom on social media than others? Do certain networks have an advantage with colleges or conferences that others don’t?

Those are just some of the questions I asked in the last few months. Questions, that without Twitter, I never would have begun to think of.

Why does it matter? That might be a little harder to explain other than what I said earlier: knowing what makes people tick. When you know what makes a person tick, that helps you to understand why they think like they do. And in the case of media, it is why they write what they write.

Is there a particular sportswriter or reporter that gets your blood boiling or makes your hair stand on end every time you read their words or hear their voice? Try following them on Twitter. Chances are, you’ll gain understanding, and maybe, just maybe, soften your stance a bit. I’m not saying you have to agree with what they write or say. But if you really WANT to be heard by media, then gain understanding and be willing to listen. There are fascinating stories within the sports media community itself; not all of them good. The question is: What type of fan are you? Fanatic like a zealot or a fan with an open mind?

A quick flip side to that? Media need to be aware that, there are others like me who do care about “sports media stories”. They may not necessarily be as inquisitive as me, but they are out there. And they bring great insight and understanding to the Twitterverse. They just get drowned out by the noise of the trolls.

Those are my thoughts. What about you?

CadChica Sports

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