New coach, quarterback competition creates media coverage difficulties

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Blacksburg, Va., April 19 — Media in stands: A photographer takes pictures in the stands due to restricted access on the football field. Photo: Samantha Hill

 

by Samantha Hill–

The Virginia Tech football team has a new coach, new potential quarterbacks and new frustrations when it comes to team coverage in the media.

Media outlets, like The Collegiate Times, have complained that covering football practices this spring has been nearly impossible. In fact, a columnist with The Key Play has even started analyzing the team’s Snapchat videos to provide information to readers.

On April 19, a student-only practice was held by the football team. Though the media was able to attend and cover the practice, they could not stand on the field or take video.

“As media, you expect to have a different look than just an average fan’s,” said Collegiate Times Sports Editor Faizan Hasnany. “Not getting the access means you can’t provide fans what they don’t already know, or that they can’t find out by themselves.”

Editor in Chief and former Sports Editor Ricky LaBlue says with the quarterback competition going on, it’s more important than ever to get multi-day coverage.

“There’s no clear-cut starter, and unfortunately we’re not put in a position to report the information we’re expected to report,” said LaBlue.

The football team’s Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications, Pete Moris, says it’s not uncommon for coaches to be protective of their players during situations like this year’s quarterback competition.

“We really don’t have a defined starting quarterback yet, so I think most coaches in that situation that I’ve been around are going to be pretty protective of those guys, and not put them under any more pressure than they need to,” said Moris.

This protection creates a larger problem for organizations like The Collegiate Times. The Educational Media Company at Virginia Tech (EMCVT) owns the newspaper, and states the importance of providing “co-curricular educational experiences.” Sections of the newspaper, particularly the photo section, use spring practices to train staff. Photo Editor Zack Wajsgras has worked on the paper for three years and says he’s used to having open access.

“The practices, and the scrimmages, and all the different events they have are really important for us, and it’s just ridiculous now that has been 100 percent cut off to not only us as student journalists, but also to the professional media outlets around here,” said Wajsgras.

Both Hasnany and Moris believe the media coverage issues will loosen up with time. Hasnany says they will have access to Pro Day next spring, something they didn’t get access to this semester. Moris says he’s stressed to the media how important it is to be patient.

“I think as we go it will evolve, just as the team will evolve, and again, I’ve told everyone to be patient,” said Moris. “Sometimes you’ve got to change in this business, and a lot of folks around here haven’t had a change in a long time.”

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