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Vol. 55, No. 3 March 2018 .pdf version
Survey says: Some schools fall short of best practices
Thanks to USBWA members who responded to a recent survey and to the NCAA's basketball oversight committee for creating a best-practices memo for member schools, the USBWA will be able to identify those schools that are failing to meet those standards and encourage them to do better.
Members were asked to provide detailed responses, if possible, to three questions, the first two of them regarding the NCAA's best-practices memo:
Media seating should be reasonably close to the court, and with an unobstructed view (no standing fans or overhanging roofs). If seats are not near courtside, monitors should be provided for replays. All media seating should have power and working wireless. The media room should be reachable following the end of the game before postgame interviews begin. Secured areas should be provided to store belongings and media parking should be in a safe locations with a security escort available as needed. Please identify any venues that do not meet the standards and provide details of the problem area(s). This includes any seating or access issues at neutral venues or tournament sites.
Schools should provide an open locker room period (or alternate area) for at least 15 minutes following each game, to include players who are not brought to the formal interview podium. Also, players should be made available for at least 15 minutes one day a week, and the coach available to beat writers at least one day between scheduled games beyond the league teleconference. Please address the access standards specifically with regard to the school you cover.
Also, the survey sought to learn what schools are shining examples to others:
Please identify any schools that have done a particularly good job of meeting the new standards or generally excel in these areas.
The survey was opened by 133 USBWA members through mid-February, though about 30 percent of those did not respond to any of the questions. About half of the responses were brief and addressed only one or two of the questions hopefully a sign that seating and access are at least adequate at many or most schools.
The remaining 20 percent revealed problem areas at schools some of which are mentioned multiple times and provided details that will be useful when the USBWA's ad hoc committees for seating and access contact those schools during the offseason.
One school, for example, provides media seating that is in such a dark and remote area of the arena that "it is difficult to see a notepad." Another writer, citing the same school, said he is forced to use his cellphone as a flashlight to read his notes. "Worst situation I've ever seen," he wrote.
Another school recently moved the media to an area that a writer said was "further away from the action than any media seating area for basketball I've been in during 35 years of covering college basketball games." Another reporter noted that the seating was so high in that arena, he moved into an empty seat in the stands for the remainder of the first half "hardly an appropriate setting for working journalists on a tight deadline."
Another school moved the media from courtside to a corner area after the NCAA released its best-practices memo.
At a few schools, obstructed views make it difficult, if not impossible, to write an informed story.
"If the fans in front of you stand up," wrote one, "you might as well put a period on it and send it in."
One writer noted that media parking "continues to be a joke at most places."
While access to coaches and players is apparently adequate at many schools, it "falls depressingly short" at a couple of schools in one state "It's hard to know who might have a unique story worth a column or a feature," wrote a columnist from that area and "gets worse every year" in a particular conference.
The ad hoc committee seeks to receive additional information from writers, as it can only attempt to help where it knows there is a problem. Writers who would like to provide additional information can still do so by March 1 by completing the survey or sending their responses to John Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org, Luke DeCock at email@example.com and Kirk Wessler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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