Friday, May 25, 2007

Check Out YourCycling.com

Given that my mainstream local media (which happens to include the very fine Washington Post) has no idea and even less concern about what I consider my news (they're getting better, though, on delivering the how-I-want-it/when-I-want-it part), I'm intrigued with a new concept from Steve Outing's Enthusiast Group niche sport websites that he's calling "grassroots media."

Let me back up and begin with a disclaimer: Outing is my former editor and the creator of the E-Media Tidbits blog. A much honored and respected online journalism pioneer (he still writes an online column, "Stop the Presses," for Editor & Publisher), Outing founded and is publishers of the Enthusiast Group, a network of grassroots, media-based websites serving adventure and participant sports. Sites include YourMTB.com, YourCycling.com, YourClimbing.com, YourRunning.com and YourHorseSports.com, with additional rollouts expected throughout 2007.

Two of the sites, YourMTB.com and YourCycling.com, which are home to mountain and road biking enthusiasts, have developed an innovative program to provide coverage for cycling races and events that allows competitors and/or spectators to blog, take photograph and shoot video.

Site members can apply to be selected as correspondents and receive a free entry fee to compete or admission as a spectator in exchange for covering the event.

Given that many of these events rarely attract mainstream media coverage, even though the participation level or attendance can be large, it's a great way for niche sports to get coverage.

"What we offer is an audience that is really passionate about the sport, provided from the athlete's or competitor's perspective," says Outing. "We partner with events in our websites' sports and recruit grassroots correspondents to cover them. We also let event organizers embed this into their sites. It's an innovative form of grassroots media -- an angle I haven't seen before. We call the event sites 'Grassroots Channels' -- though we're debating whether that's too geeky still given our audience of sports enthusiasts."

YourMTB.com recently signed a deal to provide Grassroots Channels for Granny Gear Productions' series of 24-hour mountain bike races. As part of that relationship, YourMTB is recruiting correspondents to race in and cover the races. Correspondents' photos, videos and blogs appeared on Granny Gear's Grassroots Channels, for example, for the 24 Hours of Conyers race last week.

And recently, the USA Climbing Regional Championship at the Boulder, Col., Rock Club used volunteer competitor correspondents. Jill Salva, BRC's sales, instructions and events director, said, "The beauty of grassroots reporters is that these are people who are already motivated and keenly interested in the event. Plus the advantage of having multiple grassroots reporters means that you get multiple unique viewpoints. In addition to that, it frees up event organizers to focus on serving competitors, attracting sponsors and running the event itself.

With the positive response we got, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The creativity of our correspondents uniquely captured the flavor of our comp."

This approach represents yet another lost opportunity for mainstream media, which simply lacks the resources to make all its audience happy all of the time. I've already approached the CSC Invitational in nearby Arlington, Va., about covering the event for The Triple Crankset, and I'll volunteer to cover the event for YourCycling.com, too.

My guess, however, is that there will be more coverage of the Washington Redskins in the local media that day with the season only three months away!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Check Out YourCycling.com

Given that my mainstream local media (which happens to include the very fine Washington Post) has no idea and even less concern about what I consider my news (they're getting better, though, on delivering the how-I-want-it/when-I-want-it part), I'm intrigued with a new concept from Steve Outing's Enthusiast Group niche sport websites that he's calling "grassroots media."

Let me back up and begin with a disclaimer: Outing is my former editor and the creator of the E-Media Tidbits blog. A much honored and respected online journalism pioneer (he still writes an online column, "Stop the Presses," for Editor & Publisher), Outing founded and is publishers of the Enthusiast Group, a network of grassroots, media-based websites serving adventure and participant sports. Sites include YourMTB.com, YourCycling.com, YourClimbing.com, YourRunning.com and YourHorseSports.com, with additional rollouts expected throughout 2007.

Two of the sites, YourMTB.com and YourCycling.com, which are home to mountain and road biking enthusiasts, have developed an innovative program to provide coverage for cycling races and events that allows competitors and/or spectators to blog, take photograph and shoot video.

Site members can apply to be selected as correspondents and receive a free entry fee to compete or admission as a spectator in exchange for covering the event.

Given that many of these events rarely attract mainstream media coverage, even though the participation level or attendance can be large, it's a great way for niche sports to get coverage.

"What we offer is an audience that is really passionate about the sport, provided from the athlete's or competitor's perspective," says Outing. "We partner with events in our websites' sports and recruit grassroots correspondents to cover them. We also let event organizers embed this into their sites. It's an innovative form of grassroots media -- an angle I haven't seen before. We call the event sites 'Grassroots Channels' -- though we're debating whether that's too geeky still given our audience of sports enthusiasts."

YourMTB.com recently signed a deal to provide Grassroots Channels for Granny Gear Productions' series of 24-hour mountain bike races. As part of that relationship, YourMTB is recruiting correspondents to race in and cover the races. Correspondents' photos, videos and blogs appeared on Granny Gear's Grassroots Channels, for example, for the 24 Hours of Conyers race last week.

And recently, the USA Climbing Regional Championship at the Boulder, Col., Rock Club used volunteer competitor correspondents. Jill Salva, BRC's sales, instructions and events director, said, "The beauty of grassroots reporters is that these are people who are already motivated and keenly interested in the event. Plus the advantage of having multiple grassroots reporters means that you get multiple unique viewpoints. In addition to that, it frees up event organizers to focus on serving competitors, attracting sponsors and running the event itself.

With the positive response we got, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The creativity of our correspondents uniquely captured the flavor of our comp."

This approach represents yet another lost opportunity for mainstream media, which simply lacks the resources to make all its audience happy all of the time. I've already approached the CSC Invitational in nearby Arlington, Va., about covering the event for The Triple Crankset, and I'll volunteer to cover the event for YourCycling.com, too.

My guess, however, is that there will be more coverage of the Washington Redskins in the local media that day with the season only three months away!

No comments: