In the past year, no media member has generated more comments among the readers of this blog than ESPN's Heather Dinich. As the ACC blogger for the worldwide leader and as a woman, Dinich's work is especially under the microscope for the diehard BC fans. While I've had the occasional critical comment, in general, I've enjoyed Dinich's work and appreciate how prolific she's been (especially when compared the the BC beat writers). Now that BC seems to be the only ACC team generating news, it seems like as good a time as any to ask her a few questions. Part I of our exchange is below. Look for Part II tomorrow.
ATLeagle: You were/are part of a unique experiment from ESPN by having a blogger solely focused on one conference. I think I (and most BC fans) had high expectations when you started. After a season, criticism is natural. My main complaint is that you’ve stuck to a set formula, which is standard reporting, interviews and links to major media outlets. I guess I was hoping as a “blogger” you would dip into the grey areas and have more opinion, statistical analysis, and even humor. I also hoped you would support and link to non-mainstream media and other bloggers. How did your format develop over the season and are there ESPN mandated limitations and areas that you cannot go into?
Heather Dinich: Well, these are all good points, but one thing that’s important to remember is that we’re not the Page 2 version of ESPN.com. Our job isn’t to push the envelope, and we don’t want to lose our credibility as journalists first. I almost always see coaches’ eyebrows raise when you tell them you’re a “blogger” as opposed to a college football writer. In order to gain credibility with the people you cover, it takes a certain tone, and the best opinions are always based on fact. We do try to bring as much analysis as we can, and are encouraged to do that. As for linking to non-mainstream media and other bloggers, we have to be very careful we’re linking to factual information and accredited news sources.
ATLeagle: Although women have been covering sports for decades, I think modern media and the 24/7 nature of ESPN and the internet has changed things a bit. People feel like they know a writer/personality and have open platforms on which to comment on your looks, voice, etc. While you don’t get the attention that an Erin Andrews gets, are you conscious of the gender focus in your readership? Does it bother you? How do you deal with it among fans and the people you cover?
HD: Ha … no, I’m definitely not EA, thanks for reminding me. But yes, you’re right, I do get some … hmm, interesting … comments sometimes that my male colleagues won’t. No, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been doing this since I was 16 and working for my local paper while I was in high school, so I’m pretty used to being the minority. How do I deal with it? I usually ignore it. I do, however, tend to forget that women read my blog, too.
PART II Tomorrow.