Women and Social Media play a Huge Role In The Future of CBS Sports

On Monday, November 17th, 2014 I attended the Media Sports panel here at the University of Michigan. Before attending, I had never heard of CBS Sports’ new show “We Need To Talk”. Now, I’m the one who can’t stop talking about it. CBS has developed this new sports show that is hosted entirely by women, and it is the first to ever do so. These women come from all different backgrounds in the sporting world, and that is what brings this show to life. But what is CBS Sports doing to promote their new show? Are they using digital disruption to their advantage?

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Image captured by Alissa Ranger at the sports media panel at the University of Michigan.
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Image captured by Alissa Ranger.

In this video CBS Sports president, David Berson, and CBS Sports sideline reporter, Tracy Wolfson, discuss the ‘ins and outs’ of the new show. (Footage shot by Brendan Rand)

In the clip you may have noticed that they neglected to mention how well the show is doing, or which demographics they are trying to target, but David Berson did say, “It’s all about women and giving them a voice”.

I realized that although this is groundbreaking news in the realm of sports, I had not noticed anything about the show prior to attending the panel event. This is saying something, because I follow CBS Sports on all social media platforms. Granted, the show is incredibly new (it first aired on September 30, 2014), however, I was still shocked to see that the network was not using their social media platforms to their full capability. So I asked David Berson about this in a short interview after the panel.

As you can see, he is not the best person to talk to about specific social media outlets, but he did mention something extremely important. ALL 11 women on the show are promoting the show using their personal social media sites. One of the most important to note is Twitter. The CBS website itself urges viewers to follow each of the women.

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Image from http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/weneedtotalk

In addition, the women promote the show themselves on multiple platforms as you can see here:

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One thing that I mentioned in the interview is the lack of attention that the show is getting on it’s own platforms on social media. The Instagram and Twitter accounts both have comparatively small numbers of followers compared to the amount of followers that CBS Sports social media profiles have as a whole.

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So basically what I’m trying to say is, although the CBS Sports Network itself isn’t doing so well in the social media aspect of promotion for “We Need To Talk”, this show is getting A LOT of promotion from the 11 women who host it, and one would think that most of it is geared toward the female demographic. Why is the show focusing on women? In my opinion, and from all of the research I have done, I would guess that CBS is attempting to target the audience that they have not been able to reach yet. In a study conducted by CBS Sports representatives, they found that over seventy percent of their viewers are men. If the NFL says that their network is only growing because women make up their fastest growing fan demographic, then is that any indication of what other businesses in the world of sports should be focusing on? And shouldn’t these numbers be more representative of the audience that CBS Sports is trying to target?

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Image taken from a 2013 study which is located here: http://www.cbssportsnetwork.com/sites/default/files/pdf/adsales/2014/Network_Research_2014.pdf
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This image is from a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center from 2008-2013.

One last important piece of information to note is the demographic of social media users. Women are climbing far above men in terms of their engagement with social media platforms. Therefore, by having all 11 hosts promoting this show, they are more likely to target their intended audience, especially when the women have a large amount of followers…

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I think that the people at CBS Sports are on the right track in order to maintain their success in the sports broadcasting industry, but I think that they could definitely use some help in developing the new show’s image and presence on social media. They may not be able to offer me the job right now (I have one semester left of college), but I’m just thrilled that I got to meet some of the people at the top of this success, and ever-changing business.

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Are social media really dumbing us down?

According to many studies, the answer is yes. This is actually quite disturbing considering the amount of time that people under the age of 50 spend using these media forms. The graph below from the Pew research center shows that the percentage of adults who use social networking sites on a regular basis has steady risen. The graph indicates that over 75% of people under the age of 50 use social networking sites on a regular basis. In addition, it’s important to note that 74% of all online adults are using social networking sites.

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So why is this a bad thing? In an article called “Social Media Is Making You Stupid”, posted on TIME’s website, TIME references a study that was conducted on social media users and the way that they use their social networks to figure out answers and solve problems. The survey found that these individuals who were active on social media often used their networks to figure out answers, but when given new problems that their networks had not seen before, they were unable to solve the problem. So even though more connections yielded more correct answers, the social media users were just copying their peers and not solving the problems for themselves. In this study the research team argues that “the bias may very well decrease the frequency of analytical reasoning by making it easy and commonplace for people to reach analytical response without engaging analytical processing.” In other words our analytic muscles are beginning to waste away just like an unused muscle would.

Another argument that professor Clifford Nass argued is that increasing social media use is affecting social and emotional development as well. The article written about him in Psychology Today talks about the beliefs of him and his colleagues. These beliefs are best summed in these excerpts:
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Even if you personally cannot tell that social media is affecting your brain and development, it is. It’s scary to reflect and think that just 10 years ago society did not have any forms of social media of now it has taken over a large portion of our lives. The younger generations will never know what life was like without out.

 
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Paper or Plastic?

On Monday I read an article in the New York Times’ Sports section called “A Boy’s Injury Rallies a Country”. While reading that first sentence you may have subconsciously pictured me reading from my computer screen, iPhone, or iPad. In actuality, I read this story from an actual print newspaper first. Before picking up this copy of The Times, I honestly cannot remember the last time I read a physical newspaper.

I enjoyed reading the physical copy because I had been looking at a computer screen all day for my classes, and it was sort of a relief to not have to look at one to read this story. I was a little annoyed by the fact that I had to turn to look for the continuation of the story, because obviously in traditional print newspapers the entire editorial doesn’t usually fit onto the first page. It felt a little strange to be holding something as big as a newspaper, because I am used to holding my tiny phone, and of course I don’t have to hold my laptop at all.

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On the other hand, when I read the online version of this story, It was all on the same “page”; I could just scroll down the page. The online version was the exact same story that ran in the print version, but it held my attention longer because it had additional features. For example, it used all of the same pictures that were featured in the print version of the story, but it also had a slideshow that readers could look at, full of additional photos that were not included in the print version. It also had a place for readers to comment. The comments served as forum, and I liked that aspect as well. I still think that the NYT could have done a better job with the online version of this story. They could have made it much more visually appealing, and could have added audio or video to it to make it even more interesting. Technology allows journalism to go far beyond the realms of simple printed words, and it’s sort of disappointing to see that The New York Times just isn’t utilizing the web as well as they could.

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In The New York Times’ Innovation report, the company discusses the ways in which it is starting to implement changes in the newsroom in order to excel in a world full of digital disruption. In the report it says, “More readers expect us to find them on Twitter and Facebook, and through email and phone alerts.” I must admit that I would have never read this article if I had not stumbled across it when I was searching through the physical newspaper. I follow the NYT’s Sports Twitter account, and I never saw the article on my feed at all. This story was a touching, human interest story, and I never saw it on Facebook either which was really surprising to me.

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Based on the Innovation report, it sounds like The Times is working to implement a lot of changes, but simply based on my analysis of the presentation of this article alone, I think that they still have a long way to go.

Review of ABC’s World News with David Muir

I watched ABC’s World News with David Muir from November 17th. In my opinion, the newscast highlighted a lot of the most important topics in current events, but did not do so in the most effective or efficient ways. The order of the stories was as follows:

1. Extreme Weather

This story definitely needed to be included in the broadcast because it affects the entire upper region of the country. They decided to do a sweeping overview of what is happening in the country and showed pictures from many different states. In addition,they sent a correspondent out to Pennsylvania to talk specifically about what was happening there. They also had their own meteorologist, Ginger Zee on set in the studio. Ginger added absolutely nothing to the broadcast that wasn’t already said. I feel like they just threw her in there so that the audience could see an expert. The graphics on the weather map were extremely cheesy, and dated, and the story could have sufficed without them. Although I do feel that this story was necessary to include, I’m not sure that it should have been the first story that they ran.

2. State of Emergency- Ferguson Protestors and the Wilson/Brown Case
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I think that they could have done a much better job piecing this story together. It seemed very one sided, especially for a news organization that is supposed to be objective and unbiased. They discussed the more recent issues about how Missouri is bracing for protests. They also showed how the crowd of protestors had recently shut down traffic. I think they could have done a better job with providing the context and the background of this story. They showed a short interview segment the Brown family attorney and they also showed an interview withe protestors. There was no counter discussion from Officer Wilson’s side.

3. Hunt For Killers- ISIS

I thought that they did an excellent job with this segment because it was relevant, concise, and easy to understand. They included some background on the whole ISIS situation, and talked about how there is one hostage still missing. It was important to know that in the most recent video footage of the killers, their faces were uncovered. This had never happened before. They also included some video and images which helped with clarity and completeness. They had a correspondent (pierre Thomas) in Washington talking about how the FBI was warning about extremists, but he was just in a normal newsroom setting, and I think it could have added a lot more credibility if he was corresponding from a place of action.

4. Ebola Death in the US

This was just a mediocre package in my opinion. I liked that they showed footage of the most recent Ebola victim from when he was still alive and speaking about why he decided to treat patients with the disease. They adequately covered his background, and mentioned that he was the 10th patient to receive treatment in the US.

5. NFL Surprise Search
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Because I am a huge sports fan I found this to be really interesting and important, but I don’t know that it was nightly newscast worthy for other individuals. They talked about what the DEA is currently doing, and why some former NFL stars are suing, but no one has been sued, and no one was found with the drugs that the DEA were looking for. So basically, nothing has happened yet in these instances.

6. Prices Free Fall- Gas Prices in the US

I think that this story was newsworthy, but it probably should have been placed at the bottom of the list. It’s interesting and relevant that gas prices are reaching historic low points as compared to recent years, but they did not have any interesting information to add to contextualize this issue. They just showed one correspondent at a random pump somewhere showing how cheap the gas was.

7. Coming to America- Pope Francis Comes to the US
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I thought that this package was absolutely ridiculous. As you can see from the image above, the correspondent was trying to make a joke by insinuating that the pope should visit the famous cheesesteak shop because he is scheduled to visit Philadelphia. The joke wasn’t funny at all, and I found it to be extremely tacky. In addition, they used the most random quote from a random woman in a grocery store, which I also thought was unnecessary and poor quality from a journalistic stand point. Lastly, the correspondent specifically said “This will be newsworthy too”. I was a little bit shocked by this because news organizations are never supposed to explicitly tell their audiences what they should find newsworthy. A lot of people may find this newsworthy because the current pope will be the fourth pope to ever visit the US, but the way in which ABC covered it was atrocious.

8. Rape Allegations Against Cosby
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I think that this story was basically a “bash on Cosby” session. It was completely one sided because they showed interviews from two of the alleged victims, and talked about the negative NPR interview that Cosby recently had. They did show a quote from Cosby’s lawyer, but there was no interview with either Cosby or his lawyer.

9. Made in America- California Olive Ranch
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This story seemed like they just threw it in at the end to have something “happy” to talk about. I was not impressed with this story, or the way that it was executed. I didn’t get the “so what?” out of it, and I highly doubt that any other viewers did either. It was all about how one company is creating new jobs in the US by manufacturing olive oil in California. It did not really sound like the company had created that many new jobs yet. Furthermore, I was not interested in watching David Muir make pizzas. I thought that was sort of unnecessary, even though it was meant to be intriguing.

 
Overall, I thought that ABC made a decent nightly news broadcast, but definitely nowhere close to the best ones that I have seen. They are definitely attempting to target a younger demographic by using a younger host, but everything else about the broadcast sticks to old, traditional methods of news casting. I think the did achieve high standards of journalism, and I would watch their nightly world news again in the future.

John U. Bacon, A Digitally Disruptive Journalist

John U. Bacon has many titles including: best-selling author, historian, professor, hockey coach, award-winning speaker, journalist, and blogger. He is an interesting sports personality because he did not integrate into the field by studying journalism or playing a sport professionally. Bacon was a history major when he attended the University of Michigan, and then went on to receive a masters in education. After college, he completed a fellowship with Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship for Sports Journalism. This was the start of his journalism career.

John Bacon began his work as a journalist covering high school sports for The Ann Arbor News. He moved on to become the Sunday sports feature writer for The Detroit News. Bacon left that publication in 1999, and has worked at a variety of other publications (including The New York Times, ESPN Magazine, and TIME) as a freelance journalist. Bacon has also published six books on sports and business, including “Bo’s Lasting Lessons: The Legendary Coach Teaches the Timeless Fundamentals of Leadership” and “Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football”, which both ranked at #6 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Bacon has also pursued his passions for radio and television as well. He launched his radio career by starting a morning talk show called “Off the Field” and gives weekly sports commentary on Michigan radio every Friday morning. He has also appeared on multiple television networks including HBO, ESPN and the Big Ten Network.

To top all of this off, he has successfully transitioned into an effective digitally disruptive journalist over the years through his extensive use of social media. Bacon has a website, blog, and a twitter account with more than 16,000 followers. His blog stories are often posted on a popular sports blog collaboration called The Post Game. I have been following his Twitter account for a few months now, and he uses the account in an extremely effective way to lead his followers to his blog and other outlets in which his stories are exposed.

John also uses his Twitter as an outlet for his quick, personal opinions about current issues in sports, and primarily in UM sports. His followers seem to greatly enjoy his personal input and opinions on these matters.

John U. Bacon has adapted his style of journalism as the industry has changed. He has utilized outlets such as Twitter and blogging sites to reach his niche audience in an effective way. I think that this has attributed to a lot of his success as a writer, journalist and sports personality as a whole, but I would also like to get his input on these issues, so stay tuned for a potential follow up interview!

Live Tweeting Sports

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to live tweet the U of M v. Utah football game. This game was interesting because it took place in the middle of the negative uprising against former Michigan athletic director, Dave Brandon. My first “full” experience with live tweeting would have been much more interesting if I would have actually been able to attend the event. I did watch the game, but I watched it at a friend’s house with other UM students. I think that I would have had more success with reaching my target audience if I would have been able to post pictures of what was happening at and around the stadium. The tweets that did receive attention (by retweets or favorites) were as follows:

 

During the weeks that followed I was able to live tweet from games that I actually worked at, and the tweets from these events were much more successful because I was able to post images with the tweets, and I could give the audience a more nuanced take of the event. These are some of the tweets that had some success:

These tweets received a little bit more attention than the tweets from my first live tweeting experience. I think that these tweets were more interesting because they gave an insiders perspective, and I allowed my audience to see things that they could not necessarily have a chance to see on their own. I would like to experiment with live tweeting a sports event sometime again in the very near future.

The NPR One App

I had never heard of the NPR App until it was discussed in my Digital Disruption communications course. My previous experiences with NPR were few, and most of them came from listening in the car from the backseat as my dad tuned in to get his news fix on our drives to and from the grocery store during my adolescent years.

For those who are unfamiliar with this application, it is a way for listeners to engage from their smart phones or other mobile devices, and it is also a way for the audience to customize their listening experience. Before engaging with the app on my own, I decided to see what others were saying about it on twitter. There seemed to be mixed reviews about the rate of success for this application. Many individuals seemed to like the new app, and said that the app showed signs of promise for the future of radio broadcasting.

Others seemed a little bit more critical of the app. These individuals mostly had complaints about accessibility, and some small discrepancies in how the new app and the regular NPR do not sync up in any way.

After downloading the app I engaged with it for roughly an hour. During this time I was able to play with some of the features and capabilities of it which include: tagging, sharing, skipping and searching stories. In the beginning, the app provided me with an hourly national newscast. It then moved on to a stream of political, historical, local, and health stories. If a broadcast was interesting to me, I marked it as “interesting”. I noticed that it took a while for the app to tailor to my custom preferences. But after I listened for a while and searched for some things specifically, I started hearing more stories that were similar to the ones that I had marked as “interesting”. I specifically searched “sports” and noticed that only four stories came up in the search. I clicked on the one that interested me most, which was this one:Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.55.42 AM
I was slightly disappointed that even though I specifically searched for “sports” and marked the only sports story that came to me through the randomization process I did not receive any other sports stories. It is true that NPR is not known for their coverage of sports, but I had hoped that the customization aspect of this app would provide me with some added coverage on the topic.

The app certainly did an excellent job with providing me with a variety of news coverage. I received a nice blend of local, national, and global coverage. It was nice to see some coverage that was specifically tailored to Michigan, even thought the stories were human interest stories.

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I was also provided with stories about two important topics in the recent news that I had hoped to hear about: ebola and ISIS. These were the headlines that I received during my listening experience:

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As for features of the app itself, I found it really simple and easy to use, which I liked. I noticed that if you swiped left you could see the next five stories in the playlist. It was nice that you were able to scroll back and forth between these headlines at anytime, including headlines that you had already listened to. The only time you were unable to do this is if you skipped through a local or hourly newscast.

Overall I think that this app will prove to be a tremendous success. I really enjoyed using the app, and I will definitely continue to use it as a new news outlet source in my daily media consumption habits.

Sports and The Media From My Perspective

My name is Sarah Holden. I am currently twenty-one years old, and have grown up during the age of rapid technological development. The ways in which news is distributed has changed drastically throughout my lifetime. As a child I can remember sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast before school, while my father read the newspaper. Or riding in the backseat of the car and hearing NPR on the radio. In addition, my parents and my grandparents would watch the nightly news segments for local and national news.

In the past 5-7 years or so, I’ve noticed a transition in the way that news media is acquired by myself, my family, and those around me. While old forms took time to develop and be distributed, news can now be projected immediately with a quick tweet, or a blog on Facebook and other social networking sites. Sites such as twitter allow me, and other fellow users, to follow news companies online and stay updated with all of the latest topics by simply scrolling through the feed.

In reference to sports specifically, when I was growing up the only way to know what happened during a game was to be physically at the game, or listening to a radio broadcast version of it. Sometimes you could catch a live game being broadcasted on television, but there were not as many outlets for these games to be projected from. Now the sports world as expanded immensely, and viewers have the ability to watch games on several different networks including: ABC, Fox, Fox Sports 1, ESPN, ESPN U, MSNBC, NBC, and so on. I will often stream live games on my laptop, or cellular device if I cannot be in a place that has access to cable.

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The technologies of the past 5-7 years, and the expansions of production companies (both news and sports) have allowed us to drastically transform the ways in which we consume news media.