The annual SEC Media Day event opened today in Hoover, Alabama, and a record number of media credentials—over 900—were awarded.
Obviously this number includes many media outlets from outside the nine-state SEC footprint. No matter from where they hail, 900 is a pretty impressive number. The Vice President can't even get 900 citizens to show up for one of his speeches.
Beat writers, sports anchors and editors, radio row denizens, national columnists, and perhaps even a blogger or two will comprise the crowd.
One has to expect ESPN will have their marketing machine in full force to capitalize on their sizeable investment...but 900? The conference must care less about the richness of the message than it's reach.
I would love to see a categorical breakdown of these 900 media members. The decline of print media has been well documented. Local television gives precious little time to sports in their evening newscasts these days. ESPN and its vast array of content sources can only contribute so much. I doubt the number of pure-play bloggers is substantial.
There are some great talents covering SEC teams and football in general, but 900? With 900 credentialed media members attempting to give their audience some unique value, and the coaches and player representatives doing their dead-level best not to give them anything, what are we to expect from this?
I predict the pros like David Hale will gather tons of quotes to report on their beats at opportune times or on slow news days. The likes of ESPN's Pat Forde and the AJC's Bradley will apply their patent writing styles to give us some "flavor" of the event.
Barnhardt may explain why no news was actually made. Pat Dooly will speak his opinion on how clearly evident he finds it that Tebow is better in every measurable way than any that has come before him.
Then the reporting ends, and the news making begins. That is where the likes of Mike Bianchi, Paul Finebaum, and the aspiring muckrakers take over.
These are the media members that aim to be the news, to ascend the ladder of SEC power players. They do not attend to be of service to their audience, but to advance personal agendas, or to be implements of the coaches they long to leisure with.
They will write their pieces and do their broadcasts without disclaimer of purpose. Under the guise of entertainment and information, they will descend deeper into the political spin mastering cancer that his spread to sports journalism.
Their intended victim is the naïve high school football player and coach. Their product is the preferable weapon of the lazy recruiter. The primary purpose to these "journalists" has become to give rise to "hot-seat" or "regime change" speculation.
In the end, one may expect the biggest news coming out of SEC Media Days will have more to do with who is coaching Notre Dame in '10 than anything do with what takes place on the SEC field in '09.