Hey, did you know other people cover Syracuse sports on the internet, too? Well, as much as we try to pull the wool over your eyes around here, TNIAAM is part of an entire community of Orange-minded folks who cover Syracuse athletics each and every day. Today, we wanted to take some time to introduce you to one of those other individuals.. whom you should actually be pretty familiar with already: Formerly of the Daily Orange, Syracuse.com's Stephen Bailey.
Check out the Q&A below, and if you want to chat even more with Stephen, be sure to do so on Twitter: @Stephen_Bailey1. He's a nice guy. Really!
First up: Obviously the switch from the Daily Orange to Syracuse.com is a big one, but what are some of the biggest differences you've noticed and the toughest challenges you've faced in the transition?
I think one of the biggest differences for me is having way more time to work. Between being a college student, working long weeks as an editor, covering basketball and living with a bunch of college seniors, the time I could spend focusing on football reporting was extremely limited. That's not to say I didn't have a blast and would do it all over again, but now having the free time to research more stories and build sources is extremely helpful. Doing so at The Post-Standard/Syracuse.com has also obviously helped my perception and allowed me to set up interviews faster.
The actual tasks themselves, though, are mostly the same. We emphasize SEO and the web side more here than at The D.O., but I'm used to living on Twitter and filing multiple stories per day. I think knowing a lot of the people at The Post-Standard/Syracuse.com has also helped considerably. I had already strung a couple times for Jason Murray, the sports editor, and knew all of the football and men's basketball writers well.
As far as challenges, right now I'm still figuring out when to introduce myself as from The Post-Standard, Syracuse.com or Syracuse Media Group. On a more serious note, I think the real challenge will come with the grind of the season. With limited access over the summer, I've spent most of my time reporting on recruiting and planning for the season. The season will bring a more constant workload.
Speaking of that consistent workload, do you think your transition is aided a ton by the fact that you've already covered the same university and community for years? You alluded to being familiar with the writers already, so that's probably helpful as well. Do you think you have a major advantage being able to directly carry over so much experience from college?
Absolutely. This is pretty much the ideal first job for me. I'm familiar with everyone I'll be working with: players, coaches, fans, editors, etc. So coming in with pre-established relationship was huge. I would imagine it had a lot to do with why I was hired. To have a certain level of trust with SU Athletics, Scott Shafer, his staff and many of the players went a long way in expediting my adjustment to working for The Post-Standard/Syracuse.com.
Obviously I knew that I would be viewed through a different lens here, but it took me a few weeks to understand exactly how it would change my interactions with everyone. Gaining more respect from media folk and access from SU was expected. Catching flak from some fans who seem to lump all P-S reporters together was not quite as expected, though it's not something that bothers me. My approach is to be as engaging as possible with the community. I do my best to respond to all reasonable emails and tweets, and stay above the fray of trolling and whatnot.
Something off-topic, but that I want to make sure gets communicated...
Even with those advantages, I'm always looking to improve my skills as a reporter and writer. Learning to maintain sources and create healthy working relationships is something that I understand takes time. Having a strong team of writers and editors around me here in Syracuse, and a Daily Orange Sports alumni base that I can always count on, will be really important for that improvement.
Pivoting from improvement -- what's the most difficult part of the job for you? And for those trying to follow a similar path to the one you and other D.O. alums have paved over the years, mind sharing some tips with readers?
Right now, I think the most difficult part of the job is working to build and maintain sources. That just takes time, effort and communication. I have a leg up in the sense that I covered the team last year, but it takes more than that to really gain trust as a beat writer.
As far as tips, I tell any SU student interested in sports journalism to stop inside The Daily Orange as soon as possible. As most other alumni will tell you, first and foremost it's a learning institution. I was a sport management major at SU and actually didn't take any Newhouse classes, so everything I learned about reporting and writing came from The D.O.
In a more general sense, I think student reporters should be less afraid to make mistakes, and more eager to try new things. Collaborate. Use the bond you have as a fellow student to build sources on campus. Understand that if you want a job in this field, you get it through experience, not grades. And never be afraid to cold call or email somebody, whether that be a source or a writer/reporter you look up to. It's amazing how helpful many professionals are in this field, and using that Syracuse/D.O connection always helps with an introduction.
(Ed. Note: I can attest that advice is pretty solid for all career endeavors -- not just sports journalism. It's amazing how many people I've met out of college seem like they don't know what to do. Talk to people! All the time!)
Moving to the Syracuse football team now: What are your expectations for this year? Surprise players we can keep an eye on? And since you were around the program plenty last year: How do you think this coaching staff improves in year two?
I think a healthy Syracuse team should win seven regular-season games this year. The Orange has avoided serious injury and distraction through training camp (unlike a number of teams on its schedule including Notre Dame and Louisville) and is improved from last season at every positional group besides defensive line and possibly linebackers. Yes, the schedule is a bit tougher, but I see every game as at least winnable in some sense outside of Florida State (Clemson would still be very surprising).
As far as guys to watch, sophomore H-back Brisly Estime is the easy choice for a breakout player on offense. After his Texas Bowl punt return, it seems like everyone is just expecting him to fill that playmaker role on offense. I'll also pick redshirt sophomore running back George Morris II and the two freshman pass-catchers: tight end Jamal Custis and wide receiver Steve Ishmael. Defensively, redshirt sophomore DE/DT Ron Thompson is the first name that comes to mind. Up front I also like senior defensive end Micah Robinson and sophomore DE/DT Isaiah Johnson, who could make a run for that starting DT spot alongside Eric Crume. In the secondary, senior cornerback Brandon Reddish and senior safety Darius Kelly are two guys who have had strong camps.
I think the coaching staff has settled in starting Year 2. They're way ahead on the recruiting calendar and should be more comfortable in their respective roles. Having a tight-knit group and clear offensive scheme helps, but we won't know how much for certain until the season gets started.
Wrapping up, what's something you want readers to know about your role covering Syracuse? Maybe a note about your day that may surprise them?
Yeah, I doubt we see too much play wise. We'll probably see them try a lot of the young guys in various positions, though. Good chance to figure out what might actually work, and more importantly, what won't.
I want readers to know that I'm always open to comments, questions and feedback. There will be times when people won't like or agree with what I write/report, but I value the relationship that I have with the community as a beat writer. I'm glad to respond on Twitter, as well as through email. I do my best to stay above trolling and aggressive lines of questioning, but will never shy away from an opportunity to inform or converse.
And a note about my day... that's a tough one. I would say that there are two program on my computer that I keep open constantly: TweetDeck and Spotify. I use TweetDeck to monitor lists of players, coaches and commits, as well as search terms regarding Syracuse football and recruiting. And I never work without listening to music. My girlfriend is probably ready to kill me with the amount of time I use her Spotify account.
So there you have it. Hopefully a fun glimpse into Stephen's day/job that gives everyone a bit more insight into what working for Syracuse.com, and as a sports journalist in general, actually entails. And for recent grads and current undergrads who read the site -- pay attention to the career advice portion in particular. You never know who could end up leading to your first/next job...
Have other questions for Stephen, or comments? Leave them in the comment section, or tweet at him: @Stephen_Bailey1. And thanks again for taking the time, Stephen! You can also find all of his excellent work covering Syracuse football (especially recruiting) here.