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Preparing for the Sooners, unveiling Kansas State basketball, and media musings

Jon's been thinking a lot about this site's relationship with other media.

Okay, seriously, what is that supposed to be? Sooners are people, not animals.
Okay, seriously, what is that supposed to be? Sooners are people, not animals.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Advisory: navel-gazing is about to commence. If you wish to avoid it, skip down to "Previously", although I hope you won't.

There is a very interesting divide in sports journalism these days, as anyone who follows the media even slightly is well aware. On the one side, you have the mainstream media -- the newspapers, the beat writers, the television networks and their assorted talent. On the other, there's... well, there's us. And there's often a lot of bitterness from both sides toward the other; mainstream guys sniping at bloggers with the tired old mom's basement insults, bloggers ripping mainstream folks for either honestly knowing less than they do (in the case of national pundits) or for pandering to the programs they cover (in the case of beat writers).

This is a topic that's been weighing on me lately. Being very personal for a moment, the profile of this site has been rising pretty rapidly. That's something we're all proud of, and I'm proud of both it and the other contributors to the site who've made it possible. (I'm even proud of our commentariat for being one of the best in the business. "Don't read the comments" is a trendy meme, but this community never, ever descends to the depths which make it a valid one.)

As part of that rise in profile, our intersection with mainstream media is growing. You've noticed it, I'm sure; Luke is getting more and more "real sportswriter" guests than ever before, I'm suddenly getting radio requests, and there's even a great deal of polite, productive back-and-forth on Twitter between mainstream journalists and myself and other staffers.

And it's really gotten me thinking about what this site is, what it should be, what market we serve, and how we should best navigate the answers to those questions. What's sort of become clear is this: we're not a "news" site, although we'll occasionally break something or do a fine piece of investigative work. I am certainly not a "reporter" here, although I do report when needed. I'm (obviously) a columnist. The reason for that is that we don't have boots on the ground, so to speak. We have sources, and we have points of access, but we don't have someone putting in 40 hours a week covering the Kansas State beat. Kellis Robinett, Ken Corbitt... we honestly can't do our jobs without these guys. They do a great job, and that's why we have this daily post in the first place -- to tie it all together and direct you to their work.

At the same time, we're also not just yahoos running a fan site. Are we fans? Sure. But the actual majority of the staffers at this site have prior experience covering things which are not Kansas State athletics. This is a site which caters to fans, but let's be honest: the same is true of the local sports section. It's just that the newspaper doesn't just cater to K-State fans.

I firmly believe this is a viable and important adjunct to mainstream media coverage, and I've come to believe that a great deal of this is because we are distanced from the program we're covering, and because we are focused on just one program. On the one hand, we're not strictly required to maintain absolute objectivity (although to be honest we still strive for that, for the most part); on the other, we're free of the pressure of having to maintain a good relationship with the programs (although again, we try to), because they can't take anything away from us which they haven't seen fit to grant in the first place.

(This could, if I were inclined, be a good place to rant about the media credential policies under which most of the professional and college sports media operate. But that's not only an argument I don't want to spend a thousand words making, it's an argument that maybe this commentary will make on its own, because the reasons for those policies are inextricably linked to a time prior to the way the media has changed.)

Understand: we have a responsibility, and we take it seriously. I personally take great pride in our integrity as a site. We do not report unsubstantiated rumors here, at least not without heavily critiquing their status as same in the process. Indeed, you might be shocked at the hundreds of e-mails that have passed through the staff mailing list when we thought we had something to report but wanted to hold back on. Tye's report that KU was actually not to blame for the fallout from the band incident? That started with someone else "reporting" that KU had complained to the conference office.

We don't go off half-cocked and post inflammatory nonsense, although we're also not above humor and satire when called for. We don't besiege you with mindless content and listicles just to put something on the front page. We don't click-bait people into pageviews. We don't regurgitate press releases without providing context and comment. And while there's certainly no lack of ego here, we try to be self-effacing about it and have fun. We don't charge you, although it's totally fine that other people do; after all, they've got to eat, even if I'm broke. We know we're not the Wall Street Journal, but we're also not Phyllis from Mulga. We've been following and writing about the Wildcats for years, and we take it seriously.

The point of all this, then, is simple: there's been a paradigm shift in how you, the reader, consume sports media, and I think that a lot of people are having trouble accepting that. There are folks who are still old school and get all their information from the morning paper and the television, and that's fine. There are folks who get all their information from anonymous people on message boards whose information might not be entirely accurate, and that's not so fine, but it's still how they choose to consume. And there are those who rely on sites like this one, because we sort through a lot of the nonsense and get to what's important to them.

It's time for us to stop distrusting the mechanism of the mainstream media, but it's also time for them to stop assuming we're just nitwits who don't care about what we're doing and have no ethics or training at all. Because after all this thought I've finally come to realize just how mutually beneficial the structure can be to all parties -- mainstream media, social media, and you the reader.

And now that my Friday musings have run their course, it's on to the NEWS:

Lots of media yesterday. Luke prepared you for this weekend by chatting with The Oklahoman's Jason Kersey on this week's Bring on the Podcast, while your benevolent despot had two gigs yesterday. The first was a conversation with Pete Mundo of Heartland College Sports, where the topic was more TCU-centric; the second, for which we don't have a link, was an appearance with Jeremie Poplin on Tulsa's 1430 The Buzz to discuss the upcoming game with the Sooners. Also, JT reported on the 2015-16 K-State men's basketball television schedule, which was announced yesterday.

It's Friday, which means yesterday was Thursday, which means lots of content from our fearless colleagues in the print media. At the Star, Kellis Robinett writes about the team's preparations, then provides a brief game preview in which he continues to be precisely in tune with our own sensibilities.

Over at the Capital-Journal, Ken Corbitt's been very, very busy, and we'll see even more from him (and Robinett, too) once we escape the football section. Corbitt's primary drop yesterday focused on K-State fighting the tendency to give up big plays on defense. As Corbitt reports, Bill Snyder noted that nearly a third of the total yardage given up to TCU came on just three plays. Corbitt also profiles Travis Britz and his move into the role of defensive leader on the field, a position Dante Barnett was expected to fill before he was injured.

Also at the Cap-Journal, Kevin Haskin opines on the last two losses, suggesting that despite the fire coming from the locker room K-State's confidence is on a knife-edge. Except he's not talking about the players. He's talking about the coaching staff's confidence in them.

From the Emporia Gazette, an uncredited AP article (which feels a lot like Dave Skretta, but we could be wrong) discusses how Bill Snyder is bringing in solid recruits, and the simple message he delivers to them which resonates with the ones who choose Kansas State. Included are Dominique Heath and Elijah Lee recounting what other coaches tried to say to dissuade them from coming to Manhattan.

Like we said, the beat writers had a busy, busy day. Both Robinett and Corbitt reported on yesterday's media session, both focusing on how D.J. Johnson is expected to be the team's vocal leader this year even as he returns from injury.

The Big 12 preseason coaches' poll is out, as you're probably aware. K-State tied TCU for 8th in the poll, ahead of only Texas Tech. You all already know who was picked to finish first. The poll dynamics view: There's Kansas, then there's Oklahoma and Iowa State. In a pack in the middle are Texas, Baylor, and West Virginia. Oklahoma State is on an island in 7th place, and the Cats, Frogs, and Raiders are basically bunched together at the bottom.

From the official site, the quote package featuring Bruce Weber, Stephen Hurt, Brian Rohleder, Wesley Iwundu, Johnson, Kamau Stokes, and Dean Wade. One theme you'll notice is that the chemistry seems to be, um, a lot better this year. On Tuesday, Weber will be at Big 12 Media Days along with Hurt and Justin Edwards.

That Corbitt guy, he never rests. Here's his report on K-State's womens basketball media day, where injuries appear to be the potential story of 2015-16.

The official site provided a quote package from this availability as well, of course. Featured are Jeff Mittie, Kindred Wesemann, Kaylee Page, Shaelyn Martin, and incoming Louisville grad transfer Megan Deines (yes, Mittie will have a Final Four player at his disposal this season).

At the ITA Central Regional in Stillwater yesterday, three of four K-State racketeers advanced to the second round. Sara Castellano dispatched SIU-Edwardsville's Mia Frogner 7-5, 6-1; Drake's Summer Brills fell 6-2, 6-1 to Ana Garcia Navas, and Carolina Costamagna completed the set with a 6-0, 6-0 whitewash of UMKC's Marina Albert. The only Wildcat eliminated was Iva Bago, who dropped a 3-5, 6-2, 6-2 decision to Aleksandra Trifunovic of Wichita State.

K-State had two doubles teams in the draw; both won their first match before bowing out in the second round. Bago and Garcia Navas knocked off Janelle Wilson and Kenzie Hill of Nebraska-Omaha 8-1 before losing 8-3 to Oklahoma State's Viktoriya Lushkovo and Carla Tur Mari; Castellano and Costamagna defeated UMKC's Allie Schulte and Linda Ammar Mouhoub 8-4, then fell by the same score to Ema Turudija and Miranda Poile of Missouri State.

The three singles winners will be back in action today, fully focused on their singles game now. Unfortunately, we have no idea who they'll be playing because the ITA is a clownshow hasn't posted the draw.

K-State got a commitment from York, Nebraska. Erin Lee, who won Nebraska state titles as a freshman and sophomore before sweeping all three distances in her class last year, has the fourth-fastest time ever recorded by a female Nebraska runner.

This is a pretty big get for the program, and Lee's commitment comes hot on the heels of winning her district championship. She is, not surprisingly, a favorite to become a four-year state champ at season's end.

Meanwhile, the team she's not yet running for will be in action today at the Newman Golf Course in Peoria, Illinois, as they compete at the Bradley Classic. They'll be up against a host of midwestern mid-majors from the Horizon, Missouri Valley, Ohio Valley, Big East, Atlantic 10, and Summit, as well as Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Oregon State (and Illinois on the men's side only). 30 women's teams and 27 men's will be in the field altogether.