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Vol. 51, No. 4 • May 2014 • .pdf version
Another challenging year can still be fun, productive
By DANA O'NEIL / ESPN.com
When Kirk Wessler passed the pseudo gavel to me at our annual awards breakfast, I'll admit I thought about hitting myself on the head with it.
This is not an easy time to be USBWA president (which is my way of imploring you all to be kind, people). Our profession is changing in real time, as are the issues surrounding it. In some ways there are more of us than ever, with news outlets cropping up like daffodils in springtime. But this is nontraditional growth, not the birth of a new newspaper, and it brings with it even more challenges.
Who gets a credential? Which outlets are truly about news and which are more simply glorified fan sites and how should each be treated?
And of course, who sits where?
We're trying to address all of those issues.
First, the good news. Our task force in conjunction with the APSE has made quick and real progress in coming up with a method to tell SIDs who we at least deem credible news outlets worthy of credentialing.
Now for the reality – NCAA Tournament press seating. What can I say? It will never be what it was, so our goal now is to make it the best it can be.
From what I gathered at the Final Four, the elevated end zone seating wasn't ideal, but it wasn't awful, either. So that's a start.
To me, the more important part is that the right people are in the right seats. An APSE liaison was assigned to each site this year to check the seating charts, but still there were mistakes. We don't want to get in the business of making seating charts, but we did ask David Worlock if we could see the layouts from every venue this year so we could see if there were some simple, common sense fixes that could be made.
On the positive side, the Indianapolis regional hosts made 50 more seats available courtside. They did not have tabletops to work on, but those folks would otherwise have been in the upper press box. The feedback I received was positive.
As for other issues – on Saturday at the Final Four, we had a productive meeting with the selection committee. We aired our grievances about a shortage of rooms at the media hotel at two spots and the infrequency of the shuttle. We asked the NCAA to use whatever muscle it could – since these games fall under the NCAA umbrella – to require teams to offer local media time with the team before games.
We also asked that, during the course of an NCAA game, if CBS is given clarification on a controversial or reviewed officiating call that the same information be relayed to the reporters covering the game.
Both of those things seem doable.
Now for our role in all of this. I know firsthand how frustrating it is when things don't work – wireless, shuttles, whatever. But rather than take to social media to vent, please call or text someone to try to fix it. There are good people, believe it or not, on our side. Worlock and Dan Gavitt would be at the top of the list. Tell them personally or tell me or anyone else at the USBWA. We can't fix the problems if we don't know about them.
I know this won't be an easy year, but I hope we can make it a productive and maybe even a fun year.
Otherwise I'll just grab that gavel and swing.
O'Neil takes presidency; Gregorian joins rotation
Dana O'Neil of espn.com moved into her new role as USBWA president at the association's annual business meeting in Dallas during the recent Final Four, becoming just the second woman in the 58-year history of the USBWA to serve as president of the organization. New district representatives were also elected: Nicole Auerbach, USA Today; Laura Keeley, Raleigh News & Observer; and Tom Noie, South Bend Tribune.
Vahé Gregorian, sports columnist for the Kansas City Star, was named third vice president, joining other vice presidents Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports and Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The full slate of officers and board of directors for 2014-15 (years on the board listed in parenthesis):
President, O'Neil; lst Vice President, Forde; 2nd Vice President, Graney; 3rd Vice President, Gregorian.
District I: Matt Vautour, Daily Hampshire Gazette (3rd term); District II: Auerbach (1st); District III: Keeley (1st); District IV: Kevin Brockway, Gainesville Sun (2nd); District V: Noie (1st); District VI: John Bohnenkamp, Burlington Hawk Eye (2nd); District VII, Randy Rosetta, New Orleans Times-Picayune/NOLA.com (2nd); District VIII, Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle (2nd); District IX, Bruce Pascoe, Arizona Daily Star (2nd); Women's Liaison, Mel Greenberg; At-Large, Eric Prisbell, USA Today (3rd); Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon (3rd); SID Liaison, Brian Morrison, ACC (2nd); New Media Liaison, Chris DiSano, College Chalktalk (2nd).
Executive Director, Joe Mitch; Tipoff Editor, John Akers, Basketball Times; Webmaster, Ted Gangi.
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