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Vol. 52, No. 1 • November 2014 • .pdf version
Online Credentialing Task Force makes recommendations
By KIRK WESSLER
Sometimes it helps to be a little naïve and idealistic.
When we formed the USBWA’s Online Credentialing Task Force, the goal seemed simple: Figure out how to support legitimate online journalists in their efforts to cover college basketball and help the institutions that grant credentials to make good decisions. Simple?
In hindsight, the task was like Eureka College trying to take on Duke. Forget about winning or even keeping the score respectable. The challenge is so enormous, you start thinking how great it would be just to reach the first media timeout with a tie.
Did we succeed? I think so, but we’re thankful for the TO so we can re-evaluate and consider how to attack the next four-minute segment.
We endorsed 14 websites, in addition to the large national sites that we grandfathered before tipoff. Those big boys and girls don’t need our endorsement, but we wanted to avoid confusion by omission. The sites we added via the review process can hold their own with the big brands when it comes to quality and commitment to standards of good journalism, but like a lot of those 12-13-14 seeds in the NCAA tournament, they’re not household names. Hopefully, our endorsement will help correct that.
The full task force conducted several teleconferences to identify a list of standards and best practices that any respectable journalism enterprise employs. Our first thought was to publish those and let nature take its course. If a website appealed to us for help, we could apply those guidelines case-by-case. But that wasn’t realistic.
So we set up a process through which websites could apply for USBWA endorsement. A subcommittee of the task force was charged with reviewing applicants. We received almost 50 by the Sept. 1 deadline, and finished making our decisions in early October. The endorsed list is published on our website, and CoSIDA agreed to distribute to its members.
One important point: While we expect media directors to give full consideration to the endorsees, the schools retain the right to grant or deny credentials to anyone. But USBWA will go to bat for endorsees who encounter problems.
Also, we received a lot of applications from traditional media outlets – newspapers, magazines, TV/radio stations – and from individuals and some sports information directors. We did not endorse traditional media outlets because they already have access to full consideration. Nor did we endorse individuals, whom we classified as freelancers, and decided they could obtain credentials as freelancers have for decades.
We will clarify those points for the next application cycle.
But we also realize the landscape will continue to evolve, and we need to adapt. If you have suggestions for improving the process, or rationale to consider expanding our scope, please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I will share your thoughts with the task force.
ENDORSED LIST: Allsportsdiscussion.com; Bluestarmedia.org; Cityofbasketballlove.com; Eagletotem.net; Hoopville.com; Houstonroundballreview.com; Insidethehall.com; Louisville.scout.com; Metbasketballwriters.org; Midmajormadness.com; Netscoutsbasketball.com; Pickinsplinters.com; Projectshanks.com; Umhoops.com.
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