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Bob Condotta (Seattle Times Sportswriter): Today’s Kaufer “Follow Friday” Featured Profile

Posted by on January 7, 2011 in College Football, Follow Friday Profiles, Sports |

Nervous? Excited? Giddy?

Yes – I’m all of the above. Because today is only the most important Friday before an Oregon Ducks Football game in history.

Seattle Times sportswriter Bob Condotta says the evolution of Twitter means his job is more 24x7 than before

Not that I’m one for hyperbole or anything. But it’s true – Monday night the Ducks will finally take on Auburn in the eagerly anticipated BCS Championship Game (after a wait of 33 days between games). I’m flying to Phoenix Saturday evening and will partake in as many pre-game Ducks festivities as possible and will be in attendance in Glendale Monday night for the historic contest.

I’ll be tweeting, blogging and posting to Facebook frequently from the desert, so brace yourself. I’ll be a social media machine!

But in the meantime, today is Friday, which means another Kaufer Follow Friday Feature Profile. Today I have a very special guest: Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Bob covers Washington Husky football for the Times, which means managing the Husky Football Blog, as well as tweeting updates about practices, games, injuries and all things Husky football (see? I do pay attention to other Pac 10 teams besides the Ducks). And I will say that Bob does a fantastic job as both a reporter and Tweeter. It’s obvious he takes his job as a reporter seriously – but fortunately doesn’t always take all Tweeters quite so seriously.

I asked Bob if I could interview him because I was interested in how his job/role as a sportswriter has changed with the advent of social media. Not surprisingly, it has meant longer hours and more work/writing than was required only a few years ago. Bob has a great perspective on this evolution of the job, and offers many other interesting thoughts and insights into social media and Pac 10 football.

He even picked the Ducks to win the BCS Championship! Enjoy and GO DUCKS!

Twitter Name(s):

@bcondotta

Which social media networks do you use consistently?

Twitter, Facebook.

What was your “Aha” moment regarding social media (when/why did you decide to become engaged)?

Don’t really remember. Being  in this business just always followed all the changes as they happened and got gradually involved. I really started using Twitter a lot last year when I covered the Winter Olympics, so that was the moment when that particular medium really began to take hold for me.

How has Social Media impacted you personally? How about professionally?

Makes my job much more 24-7 than it used to. Now, anyone can reach you with news any time of the day, and in a variety of ways, so you’re kind of always “on-call” in a sense.

Has Social Media made your job easier or more difficult? It seems like you have to create a lot more content now than you probably had to 5-10 years ago?

You do have to do a lot more — in my particular case it’s running a blog. But doing more is better than not having a job at all, so those of us who are still lucky enough to be employed by newspapers have to learn to adapt.

Something I’ve enjoyed about social media is how much easier it is for fans (like me) to be able to interact with the media and have questions/observations answered almost real-time. What is this like for you? Does the interaction make your role/job more enjoyable?

Most of the time it’s more enjoyable. There are some people who take it a liittle too seriously and read things that aren’t there into everything you say. So I’ve gotten a little more reserved than I used to be with some of the things I say on Twitter or Facebook. I really don’t use Facebook for any professiional reason — I prefer Twitter for those purposes.

It seems that you divide your accounts: Twitter is used almost exclusively for profession use while Facebook is for personal. Is this by design or have they simply evolved this way?

You are correct. I just decided to try to funnel all professional  stuff to avenues that help the Times — my blog, and my Twitter account, which is posted on my blog. I’d rather the traffic go there. I post on Facebook sparingly but do use it a lot to chat with friends and parents of parents of my kids, that sort of thing.

Are you ever surprised by how many comments you get from non-Husky fans?

Actually, I guess I don’t really know how many I get. It could all just be one person posting under a bunch of different names. I really have no idea how to calculate any of it. But given UW’s size and history of rivalries with some other schools, it doesn’t surprise me that fans of competing teams are interested in how the Huskies.

Can you simply watch a football or basketball game or do you feel like you need to be tweeting about it – no matter who’s playing?

Yes, I do that all the time. But if it’s a particularly big game, or one involving local teams, and I think I have something to add that a few people might find entertaining or informative, I pass it on.

Did you ever think social media would actually help you build your own “personal brand?”

No. That’s not the intent, and I actually hope it hasn’t. I’m a reporter with a specific assignment at the moment to cover Washington football as my primary beat. I prefer it to be about the games and the people that I cover. Any interest in the blog is due to the topic of UW football, which has been of high interest here for a 100 years and will be for 100s of years after any of us covering it now are gone.

What advice do you have for others who are still not convinced about the value of social media?

Do any of those people exist? Even the most hardened “traditional media” guys I know use social media now.

Do you think there are still those in the media who haven’t bought into social media as a tool of the profession?

No. The biggest debate, I think, is time. As discussed above, social media makes it easier to work 24-7 if you want. Some of us don’t mind kind of being “on call” all the time. Others prefer to work just their eight hours — which given furloughs and no raises and other cutbacks in our profession is certainly within anyone’s right.

Who is a better tweeter – you or @kengoe?

Paul Buker (@pnbuker).

What is your most memorable social media experience?

Probably the Tweeting and blogging I did from the Winter Olympics — getting responses from so many different people in so many different places was pretty amazing.

Admit it – did you give the Huskies any chance in the Holiday Bowl? (I sure didn’t after the September game). How big of a win was that for the program?

I thought it would be closer, but no, I didn’t think they would win — as was obvious by my pre-game pick of Nebraska 34-21. The biggest surprise was how well the UW defense played. It was hard to see that coming.

You’ve been covering the Pac-10 for a long time. How surreal is it for you that the Ducks are in the BCS National Championship Game?

Maybe 30 years ago I’d say a lot. But Oregon was No. 2 in the country in 2001 (and I think they should have played for the national title that year) — [so it’s] not like it’s a completely new deal that the Ducks are good. There should always be a couple Pac-10 teams in a position to compete at that sort of level if everything breaks right. Remember too that Washington State was No. 3 in the nation heading into the Apple Cup in 2002 — that was maybe a little harder to fathom. I’d never undersell the ability of a Pac-10 school to achieve greatness.

Best/most memorable Pac-10 football game you’ve covered?

Probably the 2002 Apple Cup, UW’s 29-26 triple-overtime win against the aforementioned WSU team.

Predicted score of BCS Championship?

Oregon 41, Auburn 27,

Who are 5 fellow sportswriters you absolutely recommend fans to follow on Twitter?

I’d say everyone at the Seattle Times — Larry Stone, Jerry Brewer, Danny O’Neil, Geoff Baker. I really like all The Oregonian guys. Hard to single out just five.

Thanks Bob!

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