Now you can be your own sportscaster

The scorekeeper for the Carolina Pirates updates her live stream from the game for the fans back home in Raleigh, N.C.

The scorekeeper for the Carolina Pirates updates her live stream from the game for the fans back home in Raleigh, N.C.

First, let’s state the obvious: You can now be your own news media.

Got a blog? A Twitter account? Then you’re the media. You may not have as big a megaphone as, say, the daily newspaper or the local television station but you’re still playing the same game.

And speaking of games . . . My son plays college baseball. This summer, he’s suiting up for the Roanoke Rails, a summer league team of college players in the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League. Their first game of the season was a doubleheader at home against the Carolina Pirates from Raleigh, N.C.

I had two big takeaways from the game. One, my son went 2-for-3 with two doubles, an RBI and a run, and accounted for half the Rails’ runs in their 4-3 win in the second game.

But more to the point for this site: I saw what might be called citizen-journalism sportscasting for the first time.

I was camped out on the front row of Kiwanis Field in Salem, Virginia. About midway through the second game, a woman affiliated with the other game came by and plugged in her tablet to the electrical socket on the light pole just inside the fence. I also heard her husband mention the curious phrase “live stream.”

When I inquired, it turns out she was using some software called “Gamechanger.” She was keeping score online, using a graphical display (see the photo below) — and fans back home in Carolina could follow along online. It looks very similar to the graphical displays that EPSN and Major League Baseball use on their sites; different look, but same concept. At one point, the woman asked one of the Pirates who was on deck if his parents were following the game online and he said something to the effect of “of course.”

So let’s think about this a moment. Here’s something that flies below the radar of most traditional news media. Case in point: The Rails have only gotten three very brief mentions in The Roanoke Times in their entire six-year history; when they played for the league championship last summer, it rated just all of three sentences. Still, these teams have players and those players have family and friends . . . and now they don’t have to rely on traditional media for coverage of the game. They have their own media — a fan with a tablet and an Internet connection is all it takes. (OK, a back-up power supply might help, too; apparently the first game drained most of the juice which is why she had to plug into the municipal grid.)

True, this is a labor of love, not one where the fan is trying to monetize the event (though the makers of the Gamechanger software are surely pocketing some money somewhere.) But . . . think about the potential here. A dedicated fan could do this for other games, too. There are surely restrictions you start running into if you try to do this at a professional game or a big-time college sports event. A fan tweeting play-by-play is one thing, but this takes things up to a different level. Hey, buddy, you in Row Six with the tablet, you’re outta here; we got contracts we have to uphold.

Anyway, the point is the technology now exists where an ordinary fan could essentially become their own sportscaster. How could someone monetize this, even if it’s just a low level? Think of a high school with a rabid sports following; some radio stations cover those in some markets. What happens if an entrepreneurial fan sets up his or her own website and rounds up some advertising sponsors to foot the bill to do this?

Here's a close-up of what fans saw back home.

Here’s a close-up of what fans saw back home.

Keynote speaker at Media Day at Bluefield College

Dwayne Yancey speaking at Media Day at Bluefield College. Photo courtesy of Bluefield College.

Dwayne Yancey speaking at Media Day at Bluefield College. Photo courtesy of Bluefield College.

I was the keynote speaker at Media Day at Bluefield College in Bluefield, Virginia on April 23, 2013. I told the students, faculty and media members that now is actually a great time to get into the news business, because all the old rules are changing, the new rules have yet to be written and those who join now will be able to help write them.

Here’s what Bluefield College sent out about the event:

Bluefield College paid tribute to the work of local journalists during its 14th Annual Media Appreciation Day, April 23, which featured remarks from Roanoke Timessenior editor Dwayne Yancey and the presentation of a $1,000 award for excellence in media.
Since 2000, Bluefield College has hosted the area’s media professionals on campus for a luncheon, keynote address and media-student roundtable, all part of Media Appreciation Day. The event, according to BC officials, is designed to “recognize area media representatives for their efforts in promoting Bluefield College and serving the community.”
“We want you to know how important you are not only to Bluefield College, but the community at-large,” BC public relations director Chris Shoemaker told the 30 journalists in attendance. “We’re grateful for the ways in which you share our story – our news, our activities, our accomplishments, and our hopes and dreams – but even more appreciate of the greater role you play in informing and educating the public at-large.”
As part of the recognition for the day, the college presented two Shott Excellence-in-Media Awards, made possible by the generosity of media entrepreneur Michael Shott and his North Point Foundation in an effort to help preserve the legacy of the Shott family who pioneered the presence of news media in the Bluefield area.
The Shott Excellence-in-Media Journalist Award, determined by votes from the local media and featuring a $1,000 cash prize for the journalist who demonstrates excellence in his or her vocation and who makes a significant contribution to the local community, went to longtime Bluefield Daily Telegraph senior editor Bill Archer, who outshined 20 other nominees from 10 different organizations.
“He is a journalist who cares deeply about the communities and the people of this region,” said Shoemaker, who helped James ‘Smokey’ Shott present the Excellence Awards. “No story is too big or too small. He will cover a small-town festival with the same zeal and enthusiasm as major, breaking news events.”
Archer, winner of a variety of awards for excellence in writing from the West Virginia Press Association, began his journalism career in 1986 with the local weekly newspaper The Twin State News Observer. He became executive editor of that publication before joining the staff of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in 1992, where he has remained for the past two decades. A pillar in the community with more than 30 years of service and civic engagement, Archer is also a historian and author, having published nine pictorial histories of communities in theregion.
“He is perhaps the best-known journalist in this area,” Shoemaker read from the nominations for Archer, “thanks to his dedication to the idea that it is his job to inform, entertain and inspire his readers, all while being a vital part of the region he serves.”
The Shott Excellence-in-Media Student Award, featuring a $1,000 scholarship and designed to recognize a current BC communications student who demonstrates excellence in the classroom and in his or her extracurricular communications activities, went to senior Angi Highlander of Hampton, Virginia. Lauded by her professors who nominated her for the award for her leadership, work ethic, versatility, communication skills and service to others, Highlander was described as a “great writer,” “very good graphic designer” and “exceptional oral communicator.”
“She brings to every class she takes an unabridged commitment to excel,” Shoemaker read from the nominations for Highlander. “She projects a delight in learning and graciously shares this enthusiasm with everyone around her.”
Outside of the classroom, Highlander completed two public relations internships, captained the women’s volleyball team, served as a resident assistant, sang with two BC select student voice ensembles, taught abstinence to high school students, and functioned as a personal aid for a handicapped student at BC.
“She is genuinely devoted to serving others,” said Shoemaker, “and poised to use all of her skills to make important and lasting contributions in the world.”
BC’s Media Day program also included a keynote speech from Yancey, a 33-year veteran of the industry, who now serves as senior editor for new channels at the Roanoke Times. Involved with a variety of new ventures to deliver news across multiple platforms, Yancey spoke to his colleagues about a changing media industry, revolutionized by technology and social media.
“We are in an era where all the old rules are giving way, so my advice is to be prepared for the maximum amount of change,” Yancey told his fellow journalists. “Smartphones, web service and around-the-clock breaking news cycles have created audiences accustomed to getting live news any time and anywhere they want it. It’s one of those great transition periods in history where everything seems to change so quickly — be it the Industrial Revolution, the Renaissance, or the end of the dinosaurs. Exciting to look back on, but sometimes very confusing when you’re in the middle of it.”
Despite the industry’s rapid change, declining revenue and increasingly competitive environment, Yancey told BC’s aspiring journalists to be encouraged about their prospects for success.
“It’s a great time to get into the industry,” said Yancey, who also supervises five niche publications for the Roanoke Times, “because everything is changing. Rules are being rewritten, and you, unlike those in the industry today, will not be encumbered by the idea that ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it.’”
BC’s Media Appreciation Day also included a roundtable discussion between members of the media and BC communication students. During the roundtable, the students asked for advice about “getting (their) foot in the door” and “reporting controversial news,” among other topics. The journalists also discussed how best to prepare for a career in journalism, the advantages of diversifying your skills, the competitiveness of the industry, and audiences’ demand for sensational news, among other issues.

What is Yancey Media?

Dwayne Yancey

Dwayne Yancey

I have created this Yancey Media site to serve as a vehicle to share my insights and experiences from the front lines of the media revolution.

First, a little bit about me: I started out as a very conventional print journalist, first as a reporter and then as an editor for The Roanoke Times, the daily newspaper in Roanoke, Virginia. Along the way, I won my fair share of awards — I was UPI Young Journalist of the Year back in1984 when I was still young, I was part of a reporting team that was a finalist for the Pulitizer Prize for our coverage of the United Mine Workers strike against Pittson Coal in the late 1980s, a strike that foreshadowed the coming battles over health care., I authored the first book about Doug Wilder, the first African-American elected governor of any state, an election that preceded Barack Obama by nearly two decades.

My Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus conversion came in 2008, when I was placed in charge of new ventures. Specifically, I was directed to take a money-losing community news publication and turn it into a money-maker — which I’ve done. (Not that I’ve done it single-handedly, of course.) In the five years since, I’ve been immersed in the evolving economics of newspapers and digital media, and the opportunities and challenges of what some call “hyperlocal” content . I believe here in Roanoke we have evolved an entirely new species of community news product, one that has engaged an audience of women with children in the home that is traditionally beyond the reach of a daily newspaper. Our products may seem like traditional community news publications, and in many ways they are. But they are also on the cutting edge of the industry, I believe. Our community journalists were working out of coffee shops before that became the vogue. Our community publications are web-first, and use the web to reach out to engage readers and solicit content, with our print publications being a kind of “best of” online. However, instead of online killing print, we’ve found just the opposite has happened — our web-first approach makes our print publications even more popular. I believe this is a model that can be successfully exported to other markets.

I have also come to believe that journalists, instead of disdaining the business side of the operation, should embrace it. Profit should not be a dirty word in our lexicon. On the contrary; journalists should be the ones leading the charge to figure out new revenue opportunities; that is the only we will stay in business. Just as it is said that war is too important to be left in the hands of the generals, the media business is too important to be left in the hands of the bean-counters.

Those ideas, and more to come, are the ones I’m here to share and discuss. I’m not looking for theory, but practical ideas that can be put to use that can save journalism.