"(M)ore than 50 reporters registered to cover the two days of media sessions online, compared to fewer than 40 last summer at a downtown New Orleans hotel. The hope was that making it more convenient and less costly for the media might improve coverage for the Sun Belt, which began sponsoring Division I Football Bowl Subdivision programs in 2001.The Sun Belt Conference, which is mostly mid-major Southern schools who are overshadowed by the big boys in the Southeastern Conference. To give an idea, the SEC had 800 media people accredited for its football media days. With travel budgets shrinking, the point is the obvious — a media outlet faced with a choice of sending a college football reporter to the SEC's media extravaganza or the Sun Belt's will take the first option every time.
" ... Several coaches agreed the format saved time, giving them about two more days to be on campus with their coaching staffs and prepare for training camp when they might otherwise have been on the road.
" 'I think this is a great way to do it,' Louisiana-Monroe head coach Charlie Weatherbie said. 'We're maybe starting a new trend here.' "
— The Associated Press
That is analogous to the challenges Canadian schools face. Media outlets have a staff crunch, plus there's the Hockey Reflex, but that isn't a reason to fold the tent. Obviously, this is a self-serving statement, but video conferencing is something conferences should look at in order to facilitate media coverage which covers their leagues in more depth, not just in terms of how a local team is making out. It's easy to imagine Canada West (with teams spread from Winnipeg to Vancouver, for now) or the OUA, whose football programs are spread across a fairly wide geographic span (Windsor to Ottawa), setting up similar. Get each team's head coach and marquee player on a webcam.
As Andrew Bucholtz noted in a post for The Phoenix Pub, the audience is there and there are relatively inexpensive ways to access them. It just takes finding the right platform and being efficient.
It's really navel-gazing to post it, but Andrew had some words about new media which are pertinent for many SIDs, about why this site, or cishoops.ca, or cisfootballorg, has a following.
"Canadian university sports ... don’t get a lot of national coverage ... there is the audience out there across the country for this coverage, and that’s left a nice niche for us to fill. Traditionally, if you were a writer interested in these kind of obscure sports, you might be able to get a newspaper piece in on them once in a while, but you’d have a hard time making that information available to the fans across the country who were interested in it. The Internet's removed that barrier. Now, you can write about what you’re passionate about, not what your editor demands, and if it’s interesting enough, people will come to read it."Related:
Saving time, money, Sun Belt meets media online (The Associated Press, July 20)