A Guide to Virginia Tech Football Media Coverage

Virginia Tech's location isn't the best in college football. Blacksburg's pretty close to the middle of nowhere, which is great if you're like me and want to be in the middle of nowhere away from traffic and people. Not so much if you prefer a cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Where Tech's location becomes a positive is that being in the middle of nowhere means there's not one news outlet that becomes the only source of coverage. Miami, Georgia Tech and Boston College have, what, two maybe three papers that cover them on a regular basis? Meanwhile, the Hokies have a pretty long list of places that have devoted a writer to the Tech football beat.

After the jump you'll get a big chart of how to follow all of these writers on the Series of Tubes and a breakdown of all of them. I even throw in a pretty long rant about the general state of the news media. Fun times!

Virginia Tech Media Coverage

Paper Beat Writer Twitter Columnist Twitter Main RSS Blog RSS
L'burg News-Advance N. Warters nwartersLNA None None Link Feed Link Feed
N. News Daily Press Norm Wood normwood David Teel DavidTeelatDP Link Feed Link Feed
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot Andy Bitter AndyBitterVT Tom Robinson RobinsonVP Link Feed Link Feed
Richmond Times-Dispatch Mike Barber RTD_MikeBarber Paul Woody World_of_Woody Link Feed Link Feed
Roanoke Times Andy Bitter AndyBitterVT Aaron McFarling aaronmcfarling Link Feed Link Feed
Washington Post Mark Giannotto HokiesJournal Dan Steinberg dcsportsbog Link Feed Link Feed
Collegiate Times Several CTSportsTalk None None Link None Link Feed
CBS Sports Sean Bielawski seanbielawski None None Link Feed None None

(Table Updated Feb.. 12, 2012)

Notes

Lynchburg News-Advance and Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • In an interesting move the LNA and RTD have combined their Hokies coverage over at VTEffect.com. There you can read stories and blog posts from Darryl Slater and Nathan "Tommie Frazier" Warters.
  • Slater lives in Blacksburg and behind Kyle Tucker probably did the best job of covering the team. He blogs a lot and does the kind of analytical posts we expected from the Godfather of Virginia Tech mainstream media blogging. Those posts remain, but have a new home.
  • The move is good news on one front. Before, having Slater's blog in your RSS reader meant having to sift through blog posts from other writers covering U of Richmond, fishing and a bevy of other things I couldn't care less about. Now the blog is all VT all the time so you don't have to worry about it. Plus, two beat writers on one RSS feed means less clutter.
  • Warters is an excellent reporter who unfortunately is spread very thin by having to cover a little bit of everything at the LNA. He's got to cover high schools and everything else under the sun. When he does get the chance to cover the Hokies, it's always good.
  • Warters' coverage also appears on the Danville Register-Bee's website and my hope is the fact the Hokies' starting quarterback is from Lynchburg and their star tailback is from Danville means we'll get to see more Virginia Tech coverage out of Tommie Frazier this year. That would be a good thing for Tech fans.

Newport News Daily Press

  • Wood's a solid reporter, but like Warters is spread thin because he also has to cover the Hoos.
  • The Daily Press doesn't have a dedicated RSS feed for Virginia Tech news. If you want its coverage in your reader, you're going to have to deal with UVa, high schools, UFL, golf, etc., also coming through.
  • It's similar with Wood's ACC All-Access blog. Wood has to cover both Hokies and Hoos, so the blog has news from both sides on there. While I don't have the straight news feed in my reader, I do read the blog and just ignore the UVa stuff.
  • Teel's a guy you need to at least follow on The Twitter. If you're interested in what he has to say about non-Hokie subjects, throw his blog into your RSS feed, which can be found here.

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

  • I feel bad for the guy who comes in to cover the Hokies for the V-P. Kyle Tucker left some big shoes to follow. In addition to the solid blogs and stories we got out of Tucker, he also was in constant communication with Virginia Tech fans through various forms of media. It takes a special person to deal with the likes of us and I hope the guy who takes this job knows what he's in for.
  • At the very least, judging by the job description the V-P posted it looks like they're taking the hunt for KT's replacement very seriously.

Roanoke Times

  • Don't bother with the beat writers...
  • ...but pay attention to McFarling. The guy's writing has grown on me the last couple of seasons. Fortunately for us, he's probably at his best when he's writing about Virginia Tech football, whether you agree with his opinion or not. He and Teel are the best columnists in the state that I've read regularly.

Washington Post

  • The Post tends to run through Hokie beat writers quicker than the Virginia-based papers, so we'll see how long Giannotto says on the beat. If anything, he and Mark Viera before him were at least prolific.
  • The Hokies Insider blog serves as the hub for all Tech coverage, so under blog I've included the DC Sports Bog and its author, Dan Steinberg, under columnist. Steinberg will at least occasionally pretend college football exists, making him better than the actual columnists at the Post. It's a pro sports town, so what do you expect?

Collegiate Times

  • As a former scribe at a campus rag, I have to include the CT. Stories in college newspapers are always hit and miss, but the writers for the CT have churned out solid coverage the last few years. Rarely will it produce something unreadable.
  • One thing I'd like to see out of the writers at the CT is game coverage that goes beyond play-by-play. That's why we have the AP (and Hank Kurz, who you can follow on The Twitter). Give your stories an angle. There's always a turning point, star of the game or continuation of a storyline that can be focused on. It makes for more interesting reading
  • The CT also has an ace up its sleeve this year. Long snapper Collin Carroll wants to be a journalist and has a column in the paper. He also is taking to The Twitter after each practice to give interesting tidbits that fans are starting to catch onto and are eating up.
  • Carroll's insider knowledge of the program is something the other beat writers aren't going to get. I'd love to know what Frank Beamer and the VT SIDs think of Carroll's stories and tweets since the program is notorious for its lockdown on access. Don't expect anything controversial out of Carroll, but he's definitely worth reading for the great information he's sharing.
CBS Sports
  • An interesting concept as CBS Sports has started "Rapid Reports" for most of the big Division 1 teams. The Hokies' representative is Sean Bielawski, who despite being a dirty Wahoo is working hard at his new role.
  • You might now Bielawski from his show on ESPN Blacksburg, which when he had Kyle Tucker and Darryl Slater on was a must-listen.
  • The Rapid Reports are quick-hitting notes that usually revolve around one quote from a player or coach. It's good if you're looking for straight-forward news. What it usually lacks is the context or opinion that longer-form reporting brings. Also, if you do throw the feed into your RSS reader, get ready to be bombarded because Bielawski posts often.
  • Whether or not you check the reports frequently, at least follow Bielawski on The Twitter.
The problem with the media that covers the Hokies is the same problem that faces the media that covers every team in the country: Newspapers for the most part have been slow to adapt to the Internet. Just look at most of the websites for the papers that cover Tech. Almost all of them are terrible and painful to navigate.

As for the coverage itself, we still for the most part get the same style of reporting that's been delivered for decades. The columnist is usually the only one allowed to have an opinion and news stories from the beat writers have to be straight forward. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense anymore.

Fans no longer need beat writers to get straight forward information on the team. Hokie Sports has started a Camp Confidential page that delivers practice reports and interviews. Between that and following the players on The Twitter, most fans are already getting their news direct from the source. We no longer need the middle man.

What we do need is analysis, perspective, context and opinion. That's where the beat writers come in. It's their job to know more about the team than we do, but since they were taught in J-School that they can't interject their own opinion into their writing we don't always get that.

That's why the concept of the beat writer blog was so revolutionary when it became a fad a couple of years ago. It was a playground where the writers could bend the rules and do things they usually aren't allowed to do in print journalism. They could have an opinion, give you a list of stats and do all kinds of cool things that editors and page designers would freak out about.

However, since the writers are paid to fill column inches in a broadsheet, they don't always have enough time to give us that. And that's a shame. We have good writers on the beat at Virginia Tech and if they were allowed to really delve into the kind of things we want to see instead of the kind of things editors want to see, I have no doubt the content would be excellent.

What's keeping us from getting that is an industry that has been slow to capitalize on the Internet and let its business model evolve. Either the business model will evolve and we'll get better coverage of the team or it won't and we'll get no coverage of the team because there won't be any beat writers left.
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