Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Suggestions for Mike Vega as he returns to the BC beat

After six seasons away, Mike Vega is back on the Boston College beat for the Globe. This is a good thing as no one has done it as well as Vega did from the '90s until 2006. Of course when he left, BC fans didn't know how good we had it under Vega. As he comes back to the Heights, he will find a very different program and the nature of a college beat extremely different. He's not asking for my advice, but these are my recommendations on how to make the most out of covering BC sports this school year.

Love your job
This is always a touchy issue in journalism and especially at a place like the Globe, where the biggest names are often the most critical and combative of Boston's sports institutions. I don't mean Vega should be a BC cheerleader. Just that he should show a passion and excitement for covering an interesting program during its rebirth. Blauds came back to the BC beat cranky and did some weird things along the way to antagonize readers (like becoming Spaz's biggest defender). Benbow is a talented writer who produced some nice BC features over the years but being on the BC beat didn't bring out the best in his work last year (covering a miserable team didn't help). I hope Vega does more than just the feature and notebook combos that usually populate the BC beat. He can do that in his sleep. He needs to do more. Put more of the notebook type stuff in a blog or on twitter. Do something extra. Write a national college football story once week that ties to BC (tv deals, schedules, etc.). The online college audience is huge. A few little things like that can spread Vega's work well beyond the core fanbase.

Don't blog unless you are really committed
With the Globe's paywall strategy and the New York Times killing their sports blogs, I have no idea if Vega is even mandated to blog. Unless he is going to fill it with unique content five or more times a week, he shouldn't even bother. Without regular content, the blog will never spread beyond the people who read the Globe/Boston.com stuff any way. If the Globe has shuttered the college blog, and there is stuff Vega wants to write that he cannot fit on twitter, he should start a tumblr and link it off of his Twitter profile.

Don't worry about ruffling feathers
If history is any indication, Vega is not going to piss people off around BC. He's a pro. But under the old regime there was always a bit of an issue with access. I hope that if something happens in football or basketball and there is a partyline and whisper in the background (whether it be about a player, coach or administrator) Vega pushes for real answers. Bob Hohler shouldn't be the one to handle stories that might offend. Steve Donahue will be on the hot seat this year. If we struggle I hope Vega is out in front of news regarding job security and the relationship between Bates and Donahue.

Interact with the online community
Things have changed since 2006. It is not just the Globe, Herald and Eagle Action. SBNation obviously has a huge BC presence. 247 is coming on strong. ESPNBoston produces good material. BC itself produces lots of good interviews and all access type features. Plus there are half a dozen bloggers and hundreds of BC folks on twitter. By the nature of his job and access, Vega will steer much of that conversation. I hope he does more than just post a story and let the masses run with it. Add flavor along the way and challenge those who disagree with your take. It will make the work better and will make the beat feel different.

I wish Vega the best and hope to have him on here eventually. He was always very nice when I was a student at WZBC but I barely interacted with him as a blogger before he was off to other things. Even if he doesn't do some of the things I suggest, I know he'll bring a professionalism and commitment that the Globe's coverage needs.

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