Social Media: Friends of athletes valuable
August, 31, 2012
By Maria Burns Ortiz | Special to ESPN.com
Getty ImagesWhen Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett were traded, guess who confirmed it?Official confirmation that Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez were headed from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a megatrade came via a photo posted by teammate Nick Punto on Twitter.
Returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday following a holdout, wide receiver Mike Wallace granted his first interview to Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Harrison shared it with the world -- or at least his 374,000 subscribers -- via Facebook.
Fans and media have become accustomed to athletes breaking their own news or issuing statements via social media. Turning to a player’s teammate to get the scoop is a newer, yet clearly emerging concept.
These recent examples show an overwhelming appetite for such coverage. Harrison’s Wallace video generated nearly 3,400 likes, more than 1,000 shares and elicited over 400 comments. Punto’s picture went viral, getting retweeted more than 4,200 times and was picked up across the blogosphere.
No longer is it necessary to have a photographer on hand to document the moment. A teammate and an iPhone can stand in for an interviewer and a camera crew. (Although, if Harrison is going to consider producing regular one-on-ones, he might want to think about upgrading to a slightly better microphone.)
A major factor in media success always has been access, and having the locker next to a guy is about as close as one can get.
Covering Super Bowl XLIV as part of his Ochocinco News Network, free-agent receiver Chad Johnson (then going by Ochocinco) explained the advantage he and his “OCNN staff” of fellow NFL players possessed, writing, “We can be anywhere at anytime and we get people to tell us stuff.”
That is not to say athletes on social media are going to replace traditional journalists. However, stepping into the role of social media interviewer or photojournalist to share and document what’s going on in the locker room -- or on a private jet -- around them is another step in the medium’s constant evolution.
And social media is allowing athletes to seamlessly transition from being the subject of information to the source of news easier than ever.
NCAA football social media rundown
The University of Southern California added Twitter handles to its football player biographies. Additionally, USC quarterback Matt Barkley became the first college football player to be verified by Twitter.
Whether a ban was overturned or there was a mere misunderstanding, reporters are now allowed to tweet during Urban Meyer’s Ohio State news conferences.
Add Georgia Tech to the list of college football programs banning players from using Twitter. Yellow Jackets' players can still post to Facebook.
Elsewhere in the social mediasphere
Vikings punter and outspoken Twitter user Chris Kluwe took to the microblogging site to express his disapproval of the NFL’s replacement referees.
San Francisco 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs took a cue from LeBron James, retweeting some of the negative tweets directed at him in an effort to illustrate some of the ignorance players have to deal with on social media.
The Miami Marlins are hosting a social media night on Friday.
Three Instagram users are getting the chance to shoot the U.S. Open.
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