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Finebaum speaks about his rise to Bristol, SEC Network

Paul Finebaum

Not so many months ago, Paul Finebaum was a southern personality, a successful sports radio host with a specific style and reach.

Suddenly, he’s on the national stage, his show simulcast on ESPN’s SEC Network, his book a bestseller, and his unique analysis a part of the Worldwide Leader’s flagship college football program, College Gameday

Finebaum talks about this rapid rise in a Q&A conducted by NSJC Contributor Ed Sherman for Awful Announcing.  This includes a spurning from the print industry that, years later, motivated Finebaum to move beyond a strictly southern scene to something grander in scope.

“I wanted to at least explore and exhaust the possibilities,” Finebaum says. “I mean, I did have a really nice career and a nice life, and it wasn’t like I had to do this. My greatest disappointments came 25 years ago in the newspaper business. I thought I would be in New York and in Chicago at the Tribune and Sun Times. That’s where I thought I was going to be.”

Years later, it seems he’s arrived.

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Has media gone too far with Mo’Ne Davis?

Sports Illustrated

At just 13, Mo’Ne Davis already represents a dream, a series of check-marks on many-a-kid’s bucket list: Sports Illustrated cover athlete, ESPN darling, a pitcher on the national stage, a breaker of barriers. 

But as the young girl, currently stealing the show in Williamsport, Pennsylvania at the Little League World Series, registers more strikeouts and media appearances, does the attention become too much?

Sports Business Daily provides a roundup of the reactions to Davis and the unceasing coverage of the young athlete. 

An excerpt:

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon noted in the past he has gone off about how ESPN airs too many Little League and high school games. He said, “I find it loathsome most of the time. But I think she’s the exception, and what convinced me was seeing her do an interview, a conversation on this network. She is so composed, she is self-aware without being self-absorbed, she’s smart, she handles the language, she has an awareness.”

Davis is the first Little League player to appear on SI’s cover. The Little League World Series began in 1947.

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Baltimore Sun dissects the sports portrait

Some of the greatest storytellers don’t require words; cameras are their tool, images their medium. 

In covering the sports media industry, these journalists are often overlooked. But the Baltimore Sun‘s “The Dark Room” dives into the art of photojournalism. It’s latest piece features the images and process of sports photographer Jen Rynda. 

“When local high school athletes are selected as either a player to watch for the upcoming season, or the editors’ choice for player of the year, Jen is sent to spend some time with that athlete to photograph them,” Jon Sham writes. “She often tries to capture them in a way that is not only artistic, but also shows off their athletic prowess.

“The set-up is elaborate, the process tedious, and Jen is meticulous. So, we thought it would be interesting to time-lapse her setting up and shooting athletes at the end of the spring 2014 season.”

The Sun video breaks down the process behind several of Rynda’s breathtaking photographs.

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Deitsch: Give Mowins Monday Night

Monday Night Football

On September 8, ESPN kicks off its Monday Night Football coverage with a doubleheader, as it’s always done. And while the first game, obviously, features the network’s typical team of broadcasters, the “B” block has cycled through several booths.

Richard Deitsch says it’s time for that booth to feature Beth Mowins. 

In a column for the MMQB, Deitsch floats what would be a barrier-breaking move, but more importantly, an endorsement of a play-by-play talent that deserves it.

“Whether it’s college football, women’s basketball, softball, volleyball or anything else she’s assigned, Mowins is a no-shtick broadcaster who is always prepared and professional,” Deitsch writes.

“She began calling college football nine years ago. In 2011 the network wisely promoted her to a full-time slate of college football on ESPN2’s Saturday noon telecast. Every Saturday, she chips away at the antiquated notion that football play-by-play must be delivered by a man.”

ESPN has already announced a booth featuring Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer. 

A woman hasn’t called play-by-play in the NFL since 1987, when Gayle Sierens became the first.

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Gannett cuts, redefines editor positions


Gannett, the company over USA Today and regional papers like The Indianapolis Star and The Tennessean, is embarking on a new strategy for its “newsrooms of the future” –a strategy reader-driven, and a strategy driving editors out of the jobs they know. 

Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review provided a deep dive on the changes and their impact on one of the print industry’s power players. 

“Gannett’s latest Great Leap Forward will go ‘digital first,’ heavily emphasizing metrics to guide coverage,” Chittum explains. “It will have significantly smaller newsrooms with a few more reporters and a lot fewer editors, in part because it is centralizing production work like copyediting and page design in regional hubs. All newsroom jobs have been redefined and current staff must apply for new jobs.”

Some jobs are changing names, such as assignment editors (no longer needed, Gannett contends, as readers dictate coverage) becoming “content coaches” tasked with improving the skills of the writers beneath them. 

Cuts, however, continue. The Star, for example will lose 18 journalists in the shift, and have lost more than 100 since 2000.

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Jason Whitlock advises starting small


He’s a big man on a big platform, but ESPN’s Jason Whitlock thinks young journalists should start small. 

The latest installment of Still No Cheering in the Press Box (from Maryland’s Shirley Povich Center) features Whitlock’s reflections on a career that began at Ball State, traveled through Bloomington, Indiana, and landed the columnist in Bristol, where he is poised to launch a new affinity site geared toward an African-American audience. 

But before he got there, Whitlock explains, he had to learn. He had to start in South Carolina covering high school sports for The Charlotte Observer.

“Starting in smaller markets is the route to go,” Whitlock writes.

“…You go to a small market like that, and particularly for someone like me who wasn’t very good, it was a great place to learn and hone my craft.

“When I did get to a major market, I would be better than someone that came out of college and goes to a major market and has to do all the learning that I did in the minor leagues.”

Whitlock previously worked at FOX Sports before rejoining ESPN.

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Levi Stadium gives its fans a second-screen experience

If stadiums of recent sporting past had graves, Candlestick Park would be rolling over in it.

The new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi Stadium, plays to its surroundings, a product of its Silicon Valley roots. A recent Time article took a closer look at the “smart stadium” and an innovative fan experience aimed at patrons that want to see the game without sacrificing the convenience of several screens. 

So the 49ers brought screens to the fans.

“People want access to things like stats, replays and other media when live play isn’t taking place,” Tim Bajarin writes.

“During that downtime, the 49ers organization wanted to deliver all types of new ways to enjoy the game, turning to technology to deliver it through a connected experience.”

Among others, one solution to that task was Levi’s Stadium’s own app. Among its many features, Bajarin reports, “Fans can watch up to four replays at a time during the game, seeing the exact replays shown by the studio as if they were watching at home on their TV.”

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