Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Email exchange with Heather Dinich Part 1



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.

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13 Comments:

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Winfield Featherston said...

Nice job in gettinng HD to do a Q&A

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Pete said...

excellent interview.

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger TobaccoRoadEagle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Eagle in Brighton said...

Classy guy, classy.

For real, nice to get an interview with HD, ATL. For all the grief given to her, she does seemingly cover BC more than MB over at the Globe (though his column about the baseball team was nice and positive).

 
At 7:22 PM, Blogger mod34b said...

Atl -- Nice 'get' to have HD talking on your blog, but I think its a little tired to still focus on gender. HD is a sports writer, not a "lady" sports writer as an older generation might have said. I think we are way past this kind of point you made:

"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"

I hope no one reviews HD's work b/c she is a woman...yikes!!!! Plenty of gender-neutral reasons for praise or criticism.

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Mod34b, fair point, but if you read the message boards or the comments on heather's blog you'd have to argue she gets BS that wouldn't happen to a male report.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Brez said...

Your first question is a great one, and I'm not buying her answer. Just look at Henry Abbott's TrueHoop NBA Blog on ESPN. He frequently links to non-mainstream sites and blogs, and has a ton of thoughtful analysis that goes beyond links to a team's local newspaper. The NCAA "Blog Network" thing is a great idea, but the execution could be SO much better.

 
At 11:20 PM, Blogger Joe Bags said...

ATL - I hope you hammered her on the "conventional wisdom" perpetuated by the worldwide leader when it comes to BC sports, her blog included.

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger CHI_Eagle said...

Agree with BREZ 100%. The whole idea of the blog network is a good one, but the execution has always been a problem in that she rarely offers anything up that we can't get from the mainstream media. Her articles almost have a national circulation vibe to them. If you are solely focused on a single sport in a single conference, you should be able to get MUCH more in depth while maintaining your journalist cred. I don't really care about linking to outside sources, but give me something fresh.
Also - I will gladly trade jobs with you HD. I promise I will never utter the phrase "beamerball" or other stupid ACC cliches.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger CHI_Eagle said...

also...
Spaz-ball sounds so much cooler than Beamer-ball. I don't even know what Spaz-ball might consist of, but i hope it involves mustaches and some variation on a speed-ball.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Erik said...

Spaz Ball sounds like a form of 5th grade recess hazing.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

HD seemed to imply that she had to behave like a "mainstream media" reporter (in demeanor, tone, etc.) rather than wear her blogger badge to have credibility with coaches. That sounds weak. I understand the need to develop rapport and credibility (Dan Shaughnessy's career notwithstanding), but I don't think that requires abandoning the things that makes a blog different from a newspaper article (opinions, humor, etc.).

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Coast said...

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?

I'm sorry this question even had to be asked.

True, she may fall under a particular microscope because she's "a woman in a man's world," but why was that series of questions even presented? She's a sportswriter, and I think there are plenty of other questions to ask without bringing up the gender thing.

I also don't think it's "weak" that she's trying hard to be professional/ avoid blogger stereotypes. She's almost in a catch-22, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

You can never please everyone all the time, and I think HD has learned that. I commend her for doing her best.

 

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