Twitter training at APSE meeting for aspiring college sports journalists

Bobby Bonett, deputy sports channel manager, presented at an APSE Northeast Regional Meeting earlier this month. His talk was about using Twitter for sports journalism. (Hank Winnicki)
Bobby Bonett, deputy sports channel manager, presented at an APSE Northeast Regional Meeting earlier this month. His talk was about using Twitter for sports journalism. (Hank Winnicki)

On Monday, May 6, Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., hosted an APSE Northeast Regional Meeting attended by sports editors, sports writers, administrators and dozens of Marist students. Among the event’s presenters was Bobby Bonett, Thunderdome’s Deputy Sports Channel Manager, who co-hosted a discussion on Twitter for sports journalists.

Bonett teamed with Newsday Sports Multimedia Editor Mark La Monica to facilitate a discussion of the do’s and don’ts of reporting sports on Twitter. Bonett, La Monica and the audience aimed to answer how breaking news should be reported, the best way to gain Twitter followers, tips on searching Twitter for sources and breaking news reaction, and a brief discussion on leveraging online stories for a social audience.

Twitter has become a paramount tool in the reporting of breaking news, with many sports fans turning first to the microblogging site before researching the news on their favorite sports website. Reporters, therefore, find themselves on the clock all day, even during the offseason, in order to be on top of breaking or developing news. Speaking from the perspective of a reader rather than a reporter, some of the students in the audience were able to address what they liked (interaction with followers, for example) and didn’t like about the sports writers they followed.

Reporters for several newspapers across the Digital First Media chain have seen success in using Twitter to promote live events. A recent live NFL mock draft, for example, finished with more than 15,000 page views, according to website analytics, and 238,437 engagement minutes, according to ScribbleLive, the chat platform on which the event was held. Almost all of this traffic was driven by the social media accounts of the 13 sports reporters who participated in the event.

One of the biggest takeaways from the presentation was the importance of self-promotion – in moderation – when on Twitter. The speakers stressed that there are few better ways to drive traffic to a live chat, for example, than letting your followers know ahead of time. And while a timeline flooded with self-promotion can deter potential followers, doing so at strategic times – for example, once the day before the chat, once the morning of the chat, and once as the chat begins – can drive the target audience to participate.

The program included several other fascinating panels, including a look at award-winning multimedia projects, a debate on the ethics of sports writers voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a discussion centered on young writers finding their voice.

The conference was held at the Hancock Center and organized by Keith Strudler, the Director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication. Hank Winnicki, Newsday’s sports editor and the chair of the APSE Northeast Region, organized the program. Among the speakers were longtime BBWAA member Phil Pepe, Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn, and Selena Roberts, the founder of roopstigo.com.

By Bobby Bonett

Bobby Bonett is the former Deputy Sports Channel Manager for Digital First Media’s Project Thunderdome.

Leave a Reply