While many news outlets pull back on sports coverage, CBSSports.com is trying to blitz its way into some local love by embedding a reporter with each NFL team. Each of the 32 correspondents is fully credentialed and will cover his or her respective team from training camp through the season — exclusively for CBSSports.com.
They’ll be using something CBSSports.com calls RapidReports, terse items of two or three lines filed throughout the day seven days a week. The focus isn’t covering the game, Jason Kint, SVP and GM of CBSSports.com, explained during a phone interview. “They’re not doing play by play. They’re going to be digging up info.” Most of the coverage doesn’t start until Wednesday but the training camp is already open (along with RapidReports) for the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kint, who calls it “doubling down” on local, also stressed the emphasis on making it a professional operation: the correspondents are being paid for the season and their posts will be edited and vetted by one of four editors. The goal is to stay as close to real-time reporting. “We tried to speed that up without giving up at all on the journalism and reporting aspect.” They won’t be using Twitter, either. “We’re keeping off it for now,” Kint added. “It’s important for us that we differentiate.” Kint expects dozens of posts a day.
So far, there are no plans to use the content on the air at CBS (NYSE: CBS) but some coverage will be shared with new CBS Radio sports sites in Boston and D.C. There also no immediate plans to use the local domains CBSSports.com has registered for some cities — or to expand the idea to other sports.
On the advertising side, Sprint (NYSE: S), which has a long-term deal with the NFL, is the exclusive sponsor, using the “Sprint Now” campaign.
— Recruits: CBSSports.com recruited the correspondents by working with Bleacher Report, a site for aspiring journalists, and through its own site. The perilous journalism job market meant the experience level is a lot higher than it might have been otherwise. Of the 32, 18 are veteran sports journalists; Bob Gretz, who covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star for years, will be in the press box for CBSSports.com. Cameron Holloway, caught up in the cuts at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, will be covering the Rams. The roster also includes Jason Butt, a new college grad (UGA) covering the Atlanta Falcons and Bryan Broaddus, a former assistant director of pro personnel for the Cowboys, who will be covering that team.