Once upon a time, athletes needed newspapers.
Now we have become one of the tools in their toolbox. For most, we still are one of their most valuable tools, but nevertheless, a tool.
For high school varsity athletes with dreams of playing in college, newspapers were at one time their almost exclusive outlet. College coaches found out about athletes they might want to recruit through the sports pages of newspapers.
That still happens with more frequency than you might think. We as newspapers have no interest in promoting athletes to prospect colleges, but it just a by-product of what we do when we tell the stories of area athletes and the results of the games that they play.
It is like putting people in the seats of sports arenas or like the outcome of any games — not our job, not our concern.
The athletes of today have the tools of self-promotion, thanks to social media such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or their own websites. Especially on the professional level.
If an athlete wants to hold a news conference at 1 in the morning to say he or she has been traded, all she or he has to do is to get on Twitter.
If a high-profile high school athlete decides upon a college, she or he has the power to decide when/where/how people should know by putting it on their Facebook page first.
And if they want to be recruited, they can put together their highlight reel on YouTube.
We still tell people about these types of things, and it is part of our job, but it is no longer a priority for us all the time. These things have become one of the tools in our toolbox that we use to construct our newspaper every day.
There is so much junk floating in cyberspace, one of our jobs as newspaper is to help confirm or deny the rumors. Like most of your jobs, our jobs as newspapers are ever-changing.
As a veteran, some days I scream "Enough!" But on most days, it is exciting. In the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, I used to say one of the things that I love about my job is that I never know what I am getting into each day.
These days, my job might be part traditional newspaper, online newspaper, social media (follow me @jpapendick), TV in the form of video or radio in the form of a podcast or a long list of other things.
These days, newspapers have the ability to be TV or radio. And vise versa.
It used to be if breaking news happened in the morning, turn on your local radio. If it happened close to noon or 6 p.m., turn on a TV news station based in Sioux Falls and you might hear a report. And if happened before midnight, pick up a copy of your local morning newspaper.
These days, newspapers, TV and radio stations all have platforms for breaking news. We used to spend an entire day to gather information for a breaking Page 1A story in the following day’s newspaper. We would be in the newspaper office telling each other that we needed to put together the best one, single report that we can for that one final product.
Now, you get to follow along as we put those reports together. When we get the breaking news, you share in it. If it turns out one piece of the news is incorrect, we tell you that as we go.
I remember seeing during the Boston Marathon bombing, a TV reporter was reporting that a suspect was in custody but quickly changed his tune when Boston police tweeted that information was incorrect. He corrected himself in mid-report.
Recently in the Argus Leader newsroom, a manager found out about a breaking news item on his Twitter account before he heard it on the newsroom police scanner. For someone like me who has listened to scanners go off at all hours of the day and night in a newsroom, that Sioux Falls incident was groundbreaking in our industry as far as I am concerned.
Everyone with a smartphone is a potential breaking news reporter. It is a wild new world, and a great time to be working at a newspaper.