The Great Debate: Should national media get better access than local media?

 When you work for a student publication, you learn pretty quickly (especially in sports), that’s there’s a bit of a hierarchy when it comes to the media that covers the team.

As far as the regulars who cover the team, The Daily Athenaeum has been able to work its way up to where we are now a publication that is being treated just as well and gets just as much access with the teams we cover as every other publication that covers WVU sports. We’ve been able to continue gaining that respect over the last few year by providing the fair and unbiased coverage of these teams just like everyone else whose job it is to write and report on the Mountaineers.

This spring, we’ve gotten to learn firsthand about the hierarchy that also exists on the larger scale of national media vs. local media.

With the West Virginia football team looking like it has the ability to be one of the best teams in the nation, it has brought plenty of attention to Morgantown from national media outlets like ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated.

And they’ve been treated a little differently than us local guys have.

Following WVU’s football practice Tuesday (in which ESPN’s Joe Schad, Jesse Palmer, Chris Spielman and Joey Galloway, along with CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman were in attendance for) , WVIllustrated.com’s Geoff Coyle wrote this about what local beat writers have been experiencing this spring.

“We’ve been told the difference is that those folks are “invited guests,” yet their job is the same, to report on what they saw at practice. The rest of us, the uninvited guests as it seems, see so little that blog updates like this one get progressively thinner as the spring wears on,” Coyle wrote.

The way it is currently set up is that the media comes into practice (usually at 4:30 p.m., unless we’re told any differently) and we get to watch the first 30 minutes. Usually that entails getting to watch the team stretch and break off into drills. Most of the time they work on something involving kickoff or punt coverages, Oklahoma drills and position coaches work with their players on individual things.

But we see no actual football being played all spring.

The day of the first scrimmage, after 20 minutes they began playing and we had to leave. To be clear, I personally have no problem with the fact that we don’t get to watch anything. I understand that head coach Dana Holgorsen doesn’t want people to write about the things his team does in actual situations that they’re going to have in games.

With that said, it does seem a little unfair that they’ve gotten so much more access.

But I see where they’re coming from and why they do it. Honestly, I don’t blame them.

Letting The Daily Athenaeum stay for the whole practice and writing about what they see isn’t going to get nearly as many views as letting ESPN, CBS or Sports Illustrated do that. As a football program, WVU is trying to do whatever it can do to get as much buzz as possible coming into this season (and for good reason).

With these guys there getting the coverage they’ve gotten, it’s brought about a lot of really positive things about the program, the players and the coaching staff.

“It’s in the best interest of the program to let national media get a full view when they come, so they can shed a favorable light on WVU. That being said, there is no negative side effects of having local media get the same view,” one WVU beat writer said. “Trying to report from 30 minutes of practice is laughable.” 

It’s a unique situation where you can see both sides and understand why local media is mad about this, but also see why WVU is doing it.

It might be a little unfair to the local beat writers like us at The DA, but I guess that’s why everyone in this industry strives to get the chance to work at one of those big national publications. Who wouldn’t want to be treated like they’ve been by WVU at every single school they travel to?

Must be nice …

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3 comments
  1. Snubbing the local media is a big branding mistake on their part. While they can probably get away with it for a while because of the intense love the community has for the football program, they should be looking to serve the local community first and the national press second. The local community is why the program is popular and successful. They are the ones that sell out stadiums and gobble up merchandise. Is national exposure a good thing? Sure, but they should not be making the local press look inferior because it suggests that they are embarrassed of the local press or that they simply don’t care, which trickles down to how they ultimately feel about the local community.

  2. I’ve worked with places like ABC and places like WV MetroNews and the difference in access to things is insane. And while I agree that it sucks, it does make sense. You were right on with the positive press- national media just gets more done for organizations, awareness, and public relations.

  3. Access is such a weird beast when it comes to these issues. In my experience, the DA was always lucky having access to the teams. But at smaller shcools, they would be so confused why access is needed in the first place. People can’t always separate the school from teh sport, and they really are two different worlds here.

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