In My Opinion: Stewart Weir: Don’t complain, find the stories

MOST people know how sports press conferences (or ‘pressers’) work today, having seen them often enough ‘live and exclusive’, thanks to Sky Sports.

Of course, such occasions serve the electronic media well, able to transmit live pictures or sound to their audience.

But it can be a problem for the newspapers fraternity, if they don’t get their own personal audience with that day’s focus of attention – although it is more likely to be with a pack of scribes than a private one-to-one.

It’s been noticeable at recent hastily-convened media gatherings at football clubs, Dundee, Hearts and Kilmarnock. Instead of each type of the media getting their own exclusive, few minutes – say daily newspapers followed by Sunday newspapers and then broadcast media – circumstances have dictated that all the media are in, together. A recipe for a bun fight? You bet. A free-for-all when it comes to who gets what for their particular outlet.

With the addition of twitter, the print media are not being simply beaten to the punch by the broadcast media, they are suffering a battering under a hail of punches from all corners.

The fact is, the electronic media – in all its forms, whether TV or Twitter – are regularly beating their print buddies, hands down, when it comes breaking news.

But where newspapers have the edge is in terms of comment and at digging up real news stories. You know the ones: the kind some broadcast journalists then piece together out of cuttings or archives to make into ‘exclusive’ documentaries.

When there is plenty to go around, everyone is happy. But when access is in short supply, some will miss out, and do so badly.

And some print journalists have been complaining, of late. On twitter.

Sports news is a tough old business. What isn’t needed is for people to have public bitching sessions. If you have a problem, confront it. Don’t have those who buy your newspapers consider you childish, or your spat churlish and laughable.

Among those who have steered clear of the in-fighting are those without a twitter account. And also those who don’t feel threatened in the slightest by cameras or microphones because, across Scottish football, they know they are among the best hunter-gatherers in the sports reporting business.

Just when has a breaking news story comprising 140 characters added up to a threat to real journalism?

Last week, I couldn’t help notice that football’s Ramsden’s Cup draw was being tweeted by at least one newspaper journalist. A case of, If you can beat them, join them? Or trying to teach them a lesson?

In keeping with my generous nature, a bit of (free) advice: Unless that strategy is joined up (a tweet from your account, then retweeted by your sports desk account, or fired out through your corporate app, or loaded straight on to your website), it won’t damage, harm or dent the audience figures gained by local, commercial or state radio broadcasters.

However, in all of this, I really would feel some sympathy for the hacked-off hacks if it wasn’t that so many of them returned to work the next day, upset and chastened, but spruced up to the hilt so they can appear on their publication’s version of online television.

So, who is trying to eat into who’s territory?

Maybe it’s time some newspaper sorts stopped moaning and just got on with what they are supposed to do best.

Stewart Weir is proprietor of weirmediaworks, specialising in online content, PR and media consultancy. He is a former chief sportswriter with the Scottish Mirror and is a regular broadcaster on talkSPORT, STV and BBC Radio Scotland. His media training has included sports stars, Chris Hoy, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan.