I have been at this blogging stuff for almost a year and I have tried to get credentialed to as many things as possible. I have had moderate success, but the rejection I have received is for what I think are the wrong reasons. Most of the time when I am denied a credential to a concert or major sporting event, I am handed the line that the performing party will only credential major traditional media such as television or newspapers. I understand that advertising is a reason why those outlets receive preferential treatment and I respect both the local newspaper and the local television stations.
My first break for a credential came with the now defunct Mahoning Valley Thunder arena football team. I called and asked, explained that I get some hits and outlined what I could do to help promote their product. The powers that be issued the credential and I was extensive in my coverage of a team that would pack it in at the end of the year. When I look at my hits and where they are coming from today, people are still looking at player profile pieces I did on Quorey Payne, Larry Harrison, Blake Powers, and Tom Zetts. I took about 95% of my own pictures, made sure to have a player profile up every week, did game previews and summaries, and received the respect of the people who took a chance on me.
My next big break was the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The Scrappers are the short-season Single-A affiliate for the Cleveland Indians with Travis Fryman as their manager. I embraced the Scrappers project much the same way I did the Thunder. Profiles, pictures, game summaries, and extensive coverage. Overall, I feel the Scrappers also liked the efforts I put forth to cover their team.
I consider Youngstown State to be a sports school. With a national reputation as the school where Jim Tressel came from, I was so honored to gain access to YSU sporting events. I am currently covering football, but mens and womens basketball are right around the corner and I will be as extensive as I ever have. This was the biggest credential I have received to date and it really keeps me busy. I know players see their profiles because I receive favorable feedback from them. YSU has “traditional media” covering their games and I am thrilled that I am rubbing elbows with the best in the area.
The most recent credential came from the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Same deal as above in the sense that I am trying to cover this team to the best of my ability. It is harder to take pictures at these games because of the glass, but I am doing my best to give the readers a good shot. This season is young but I feel comfortable with the coaches, players, and front office people who have extended the olive branch to the blogger.
Toward the end of the 2009 baseball season, I decided to take a chance and call the Pirates and Indians to maybe get a credential to one game at each place and interview anyone I could. Both markets refused to give me a credential stating non-traditional media with no affiliation could not be awarded credentials. I didn’t argue because if it is their policy, then so be it. The way I see it, baseball attendance in these two markets is not soaring and if they want to roil in disaster, it is obviously less pressure on me to find positive things to write about. The 4500 people who went to a Pirates home game surely would have spotted me and filed some form of complaint with Bud Selig or Pirate Management. That nearly empty press box would have needed a good cleaning after I got done with one game and I am well aware that cuts were made and it might be hard to send Ryan Doumit back up there with a broom with his shin hurting so badly.
My latest endeavor of credential seeking failure comes from the land of music. Concert promoters carry the same belief as MLB, an unlikely Rock & Jock connection. They too feel that traditional media is worthy of a credential. Mind you, a credential at a concert means you have permission to take pictures for the first three songs, there are no interviews or backstage access. To be denied the privelage to snap a few photos was upsetting. Traditional media was allowed to do so. This is brilliant for many reasons.
Firstly, I have no beefs with the local newspaper, I think they do tremendous work and the promotional articles are on time and to the point, they work. However, when a guy in New York is looking for a review on Styx, Daughtry, or Kelly Clarkson (all denials for me ), I don’t think he is going to hop in the Jeep and drive to Youngstown to read the local newspaper for a review. If these people were on the fence about buying a ticket, they would probably Google a specific band and maybe use a keyword of “review”. I know that is the route I would take. They find a website that reviewed the concert, they read the review, they are impressed that Styx played “I Am The Walrus” as their third song and want to hear it, so they buy tickets.
Will there be newspapers in 15 years? No one can answer that. I read mine every day and will continue to subscribe. But is there anyone with a brain cell who doesn’t think that websites are turning into mainstream media? There is an unlimited audience, it doesn’t cost a penny to visit most sites, and the coverage is adequate. Writers like Jay Marriotti have blasted the internet contributions in the past, probably because they feel threatened. Yeah, kudos to those who went to school for four years and got a journalism degree, they have my respect and write some intriguing pieces. Should they be allowed to have websites? Do they have programming certification and/or even know what a widget is?
I will continue to seek media credentials for any event I feel will generate this site more hits. I will also be as diligent and prompt as I can be to ensure exposure of a positive nature to the group or organization who issued a credential to me. Thanks to those who have said yes!
To those who will only cater to traditional media: Welcome to the future where typewriter ink rolls are going through the roof and black and white film is getting harder to come by.