Brett McMurphy Doesn’t Need a Media Company
Brett McMurphy is in the middle of the biggest week of his professional career. The former ESPN college football reporter has grabbed headlines this week for his investigative report that lead to Ohio State placing head football coach Urban Meyer on paid administrative leave.
The whole story was reported for and published on McMurphy’s personal Facebook page. He is a guest on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast on The Athletic this week. The headline from their conversation has been McMurphy’s assertion that in 2018 you do not need the backing of a major media company to break a story.
“When I first got to ESPN five years ago I thought, man, I’m at ESPN, this is awesome, it’s unbelievable. Obviously it raised my profile nationally and all that stuff. But what I found out in the last 18 months is you can stay relevant on Facebook or Twitter if you’ve got good information…people are gonna find you. In a weird way, we don’t really need these giant media corporations because we can get our message out. I think you’re seeing this with a lot of athletes that, basically when they have any type of news, they just post it on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, instead of going the traditional route of calling up a writer and having them break the story.”
McMurphy also described the reasons why and situation that lead to him posting such a long and well-researched story to Facebook.
“I was part of the mass layoffs at ESPN last April and I had 18 months left on my contract. So we had non-compete clauses in our contracts. What that means in simple terms is if I wanted to go work for another company I was free to but by doing so ESPN was no longer required to pay me the remainder of my contract. So to get paid the remainder of my contract…I could not work for a third-party. However, I was able to tweet on my personal Twitter account. Also put information on my personal Facebook account because that was not a third party.”
“So when I got laid off, I had a decision to make. You know, I could sit on my couch and eat lime Tostitos for the next 18 months, which I did a lot of anyway, and not work and hope I get a job in 18 months or I can continue to try to report news, break news, via Twitter or Facebook, and try to stay relevant. So when my contract is up in August of 2018, then hopefully I’ll be more attractive to be hired somewhere else. So basically that’s what I did. I said I’m gonna bust my ass and I’m gonna try to keep working.”
“I just figured the way the industry was, if I didn’t stay relevant or try to stay relevant, any value I had to a future employer 18 months ago would diminish greatly if I wasn’t doing anything for the following 18 months. So I kinda worked while I wasn’t working, if you will, and tried to stay relevant, and here we are.”
The story about former Ohio State WR coach Zach Smith and the domestic violence accusations made by his ex-wife is not the first major story McMurphy has broken exclusively for his social media followers. He was also the first to report that Mississippi State had hired Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorehead as its new head coach, that Scott Frost was leaving Central Florida for Nebraska, and that the NCAA was considering adding three new bowl games for the 2020 season.
Deitsch also asked McMurphy if he considered going to ESPN with the Ohio State story in hopes that it would find a larger audience that way.
“That didn’t cross my mind because by doing that I’d be telling them what story I had and then that would be a mistake cause then they would pursue it. And secondly, that’s not something that they would get a quick answer out of. I’d have to go through their legal department…Honestly I didn’t really think about it.”
“I didn’t have any thoughts of trying to sell this story to anybody. Certainly, I wasn’t paid. I didn’t pay Courtney Smith to talk to me or anything like that. I just said I’m gonna report this story and see what I can find out. I never would have envisioned it would have reached this point. Ultimately it started out that I heard there were some domestic violence issues with Zach Smith in his times at Florida. I did a couple simple public record requests. Got the information and then it’s been a marble down a mountain since then.”
The interview is absolutely fascinating. You can hear it here.
Dan Le Batard: ‘Does Sports Media Care if Interviews Are Done Well?’
“An exclusive interview with Ja Morant, who hasn’t talked to anybody after his controversy, is going to get eyeballs, so it doesn’t matter how good it actually is.”
Mike Greenberg had praise for Jalen Rose this week. He said that no one but his ESPN colleague could have handled the interview with Ja Morant that has been airing on the network. Dan Le Batard has the exact opposite opinion of what he saw.
“What I saw was soft and didn’t seem to serve anybody except ESPN,” Le Batard said on his Thursday show. “This seems to be a lot of people around the economy of basketball and Ja Morant orchestrating an interview so Ja Morant can move onto the next stage of his branding.”
Whereas Greenberg thought the shared experience of an NBA career made Rose more likely to get answers from Morant, Le Batard said it created a problem. He accused Rose of letting Morant get away with using “talking points” in lieu of answering any actual questions about the string of erratic behavior and disturbing incidents the Memphis Grizzlies star has been involved with.
It wasn’t the only interview that Dan Le Batard pointed to. He noted that Pat McAfee’s interview with Aaron Rodgers may have drawn an audience of nearly half a million, but very little substance was offered.
“Does anybody in the audience, in sports fandom, or even, at this point, in sports media companies, care in a real and legitimate way whether the interview is done well or not?”
He added that the standard has changed for these interviews because the goal has changed. They are no longer about journalism as much as they are about branding, particularly in the case of ESPN’s exclusive interview with Ja Morant.
“An exclusive interview with Ja Morant, who hasn’t talked to anybody after his controversy, is going to get eyeballs, so it doesn’t matter how good it actually is,” Le Batard concluded. “All you need, if you’re the media partner, is please get me the famous guy to sit down.”
Jomboy, Aaron Boone Partner For Weekly Podcast Appearance
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity, and a cool idea. These guys have been innovators in this business and they’ve built a massive, young following.”
It isn’t unusual for a professional sports team to partner with a local radio station for weekly interviews with team personnel. Even though Jomboy Media is a digital outlet, it didn’t stop the company from inking a deal to have Yankees manager Aaron Boone on one of its signature podcasts.
In a move announced Thursday, Jomboy Media has signed a deal for Boone to appear on its popular Talkin’ Yanks podcast — hosted by founder Jimmy O’Brien and Jake Storiale — once a week throughout the baseball season.
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity, and a cool idea. These guys have been innovators in this business and they’ve built a massive, young following,” Boone told The New York Post. “I think Jimmy and Jake are both really good guys. And they’re passionate about what they do, and they love the Yankees. And, sometimes they’re a little misguided and it’s my chance to set the record straight every now and then.”
Previously, Boone had a weekly spot on 98.7 ESPN New York’s The Michael Kay Show, which reportedly paid him six figures.
“It’s going to be really fun and it kind of goes with the changing landscape of media,” O’Brien said. “The fact that two fans can create a show and in five years get to the point where they get to ask questions to the manager of the Yankees and bring whatever insight we can get out of that to our audience — it is pretty wild, a little surreal.”
Sports Media Reacts to Aaron Rodgers Telling Adam Schefter ‘Lose My Number’
“Here are some of the best responses from Schefter’s sports media colleagues to the tweet.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday and revealed that if he gets his way, his time with the Green Bay Packers is done. He intends to play for the New York Jets in 2023.
Rodgers told McAfee that the hang-up lies with Green Bay, which is trying to determine the appropriate compensation for trading for a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Rodgers also revealed that he had an interaction with ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. Schefter, who was obviously digging as much as he could to get the scoop on what was going on with Rodgers’ future, texted Rodgers trying to confirm the information he had.
“I didn’t respond to Dianna Russini I think her name is,” Rodgers said. “But I would say the same thing that I told Schefty. Lose my number. Nice try.”
Upon hearing Rodgers’ account, Schefter followed up with a screenshot of Rodgers responding exactly how he said, and that sent social media into a whirlwind.
Here are some of the best responses from Schefter’s sports media colleagues to the tweet:
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
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