Sunday, July 26, 2009

MSU's Brave New Media World

The cream of the Midwest's sports media crop descend on Chicago Monday for Big Ten media days, which ordinarily would warrant a look at the state of MSU's media coverage.

But those of you who have been with TOSSS since the beginning will remember our three-part series on MSU's "missing media" problem - the fact that MSU's press boxes are becoming more and more vacant as news organizations scale back on their coverage as money gets more and more tight. So instead, we thought we'd take a closer peek at the one organization that has dramatically expanded it's coverage efforts for the upcoming football season - Michigan State's own sports information department.

New this year: Several Twitter feeds, including ones for Spartan athletics and MSU football. Neither are real world-changers, their content consisting mostly of links to news stories, but they're a start.

MSU's weekly TV shows have been overhauled, as have signature websites for the two big coaches: Football's Mark Dantonio and men's basketball's Tom Izzo.

But probably the most exciting (and generally useful) development is the new photo store. See, MSU has its own photographers at every big event, whose stuff usually graces programs, media guides and the website. But never before had MSU figured out a way to make money directly off its photo efforts.

You could get an iconic photo of the Game of the Century, Javon Ringer beating Michigan or the Cold War. Perhaps you want something more obscure like a pic of Spartan Stadium getting built or MSU's old polo team. For a price, all those memories can be yours.

This is not a new concept - most media organizations (including the State News and Lansing State Journal) do the exact same thing. But no media company in Michigan has anywhere near as good a website for ordering photos of Spartan athletics, nor will they likely have as much access as MSU will give, well, itself to shoot those key intimate moments.

The photo store, Twitter feeds, niche websites - they're all examples of a university trying to bridge the gap between sport and fan - a space formerly exclusively occupied by the media that will be gathered in Chicago this week.

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