On Tuesday, May 14, McNicholas seniors Maddie McClellan and myself, Ellie White, accompanied Journalism adviser and English teacher Angie Noble to the annual Cincinnati Reds High School Media Days, which allows local students journalists one of approximately five available days to focus on pulling back the curtain behind the scenes of the Cincinnati Reds. This year marks the twelfth year for which the McNicholas journalism students have participated.
Held every spring, Reds High School Media Days are when “the Reds invite local high school students with an interest in sports journalism to Great American Ball Park for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the media’s role in Major League Baseball,” according to the Reds’ official homepage. This proved to be a great opportunity for young journalists such as myself and Maddie to learn about and experience the everyday life of a sports journalist.
We began the day around 4:30 pm, and after passing security clearance, we were led through the underground labyrinth of tunnels that run under the stadium. On the other side was the familiar smell of the baseball field turf and the crack of the Reds warming up. The air was warm and filled with the sounds of Great American Ball Park. Popular music blared from the speakers as the Cincinnati Reds warmed up for their evening game against the Chicago Cubs. The crack of the baseballs against the wood and metal of the bats rung out reminding me of the physical capabilities of these young players. I watched dozens of baseballs fly out across the field becoming little white specks against a beautiful blue sky.
After batting practice, we were treated to a personal interview with Rob Butcher, Vice President of Media Relations, in the Powell Crosby conference room. Butcher discussed the effects of social media in sports. Due to the widespread coverage of not only television networks, but social media, many people simply don’t attend baseball games anymore. “It’s the reason why attendance is down for every single stadium,” he explained, and he added that “Twitter is one of those mediums where you don’t even have to pay attention to get the information you want. It tends to lead to misinformation.” Butcher added, though, that those in sports media relations must use social media to remain relevant to the public eye.“We announce all our trades on social media first,” he said.
The final part of the day included a tour of the press box, including the room where all the cameras came together for running everything from what close-ups to show during the televised game to what to post on the Jumbotron to playing each player’s at-bat music.
Personally, the day was eye-opening and entertaining, from watching the Reds players warm up to exploring the press box. Interviewing Butcher was another humbling experience as learning about the challenges he faces put into perspective his role in sports media.
Understanding the differences and the importance that media relations holds is important for my growth as a journalist, and being given the opportunity to see journalism at work in the “real world” was wonderful.