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NIT Journal: Vegas, Here We Come Baby

MGN is beginning the pre-road trip activities for this Vegas Week. The NIT Final Four is in Las Vegas and we will be there for a week, regardless of Tuesday’s outcome. Like, Tylor Perry, I am planning on North Texas winning on Tuesday.

The squad is staying at the Vdara and it is very nice and very pricey and that is the kind of thing that is deserved after a long season of winning basketball. MGN is staying at the Orleans Hotel which is fine. One MGN super-secret slack member said “I’ve stayed in worse.” I mean for me, without the wife and kids, it is definitely fine. I could have stayed at a Motel and been (mostly) fine. The arena is The Orleans Arena, located adjacent to the Orleans, thus my rationale for choosing this spot. I figured the commute to the game and all the other related things is an easy one.

Fun fact: Journal and Diary come from the same Latin word/s and mean “daily”. Journal came via French, and the “di” connection in French meant that the “d” is “ejected.” I re-learned this when deciding on a title for this post.

The schedule for today is to get there, get into the hotel, and then like, chill for a bit. There is a message-board contingent, and a social-media contingent that are each going or are already there so the plan for me is to meet up with some of those folks and have some drinks. This morning, there is real work to complete and I plan to do a little remote work from the hotel. So this trip will not be full-on Vegas fun times, as I have to save up a little PTO.

Here is a little mailbag portion of this post:

Q: Do you get reimbursed since you are media?

Um. No. I am media because I publish this site, and credentials are vetted and approved by the NCAA for these tournaments — real Final Four and NIT version. The site says “independent” and that mostly refers to the fact that we are not affiliated with the university or athletic program at all. That is to say, Jared Mosley nor Neal Smatresk are kicking me any funds for coverage good or bad.

We are self-funded, meaning out of me own pockets. Well, and by Viewers Like You. That is to say by people who purchase a membership. We have done some members-only posts, and some discounts on gear and swag and other cool stuff. For the most part the bulk of the value of the membership is knowing you are helping to keep MGN an on-going concern. It is (for the most part) a one-man operation in the best sense: we are not bloated, don’t have a bunch of dudes sitting around being paid $50-a-post looking to do Top Ten Weird Games In North Texas History, or 5 Matchups That Look Like Marvel Movies or something else pointless. We aim to pay for people’s time and go for quality not quantity. That is a long way of answering the question. No, we don’t get reimbursed by anyone because there is no one to do the reimbursing.

The hope is that enough people say “yeah that was good that MGN was there, as I got some further insight, some smarter, more informed podcast hours, and I am overall enriched and entertained. My $30 was well-spent.”

Q: Like, don’t you have a stand or something for that video podcast?

Yes. I have a stand and a pop filter. Somewhere about half-way through the run of the non-sports podcast we do, I gave it up. My podcast desk is also my work desk and planning for the podcast meant setting up and tearing down the podcast set up. Now, I had become pretty efficient at it, but I realized that I had much more freedom to podcast anywhere if I simply freed up the mic. Fast forward a bit, and one house-move later and I have more space but kept the same habits. While we have experimented with various things on the MGN Podcast, including a live-show, the benefits of flexibility in scheduling the show kept shining through. You can see on the live-shows I had a static setup. You can see on the recent shows (198, 199) that I just do the hand-held version.

Q: Can we expect more of the shows on YouTube?

Yes. I was resistant to to publishing on YT for a few reasons and most of which were about resources. That is to say I didn’t have the time to render some visuals or set up a camera and do it properly. The YT shows will be more like 200 — where there is maybe just the show art and not much else. Any interview shows will have the camera and you will be able check it out there. People like Youtube and now that I have a faster computer that can render the audio and art quickly it fits into the workflow much better.

The other aspect of it is that I wanted to avoid a race to compete with the rest of YouTubers and avoid becoming a YOUTUBE GUY. It happens to everyone, including people who fully acknowledge the youtubeization tropes and makes fun of them.

Now that everyone seemingly has a youtube interview show, or a video version of the podcast some of the basic set up is table stakes. I think the MGN Podcast and MGN overall is in a place where I can focus on that a bit more. I had been running CUSAREPORT as well, but now that that site is shutdown and the fact that ESPN/The American do a great job of covering the league overall, there is really no need for an AACREPORT. I have more time to do the things I had wanted to do over here, but could not. My kids are older, I have completed moving across the nation, my role at work is less hectic and so on and so forth.

Q: Why do you pretend you are a journalist?

Well, I don’t. This site was a blog, when everyone had a blog. We added a podcast before everyone else did. We grew up a little bit and figured we couldn’t talk noise about getting quotes, or interviewing people, or covering games without trying our hand at it. Now our hot sports opinions on those things is rooted in experience.

Now, does that make me a journalist? Sure. The main knock by critics is that because I do not do this full-time or for my primary paycheck it is not real. The thing is that the industry is in such disarray and the money is sho scarce that some prominent writers — like the dude that covered the Pelicans for a while — were doing it part time or freelance or even for peanuts. The days of fedoras and martini lunches and typewriters is long gone.

I mean, consider the FAU radio broadcast. It consists of one-guy. Most, if not all of CUSA has a couple of guys and maybe a staffer. North Texas’ Hank and Dave sometimes have another dude helping to set up or somesuch. On the road they kind of do their deal. The FAU guy is a one-man band and had to MacGuyver a solution to get the biggest call of his life out to the public.

I don’t know if sports-media has ever been glamorous, but it sure ain’t really that now. Because technology allows everyone to do more, everyone is expected to do more. MGN can have art, a story, and a podcast on just the phone I have. Add the laptop? And I’m even more powerful. But I’m also no different than the next guy with a phone. The democratization of journalism has meant that yeah, just about anyone can be a journalist in that you can document an event. The rest? Well that is what we are asking you to pay for. The analysis, the commentary, the context.

If I can be in the press conference, have the conversations, watch the games, and do my own research and put all that together to have an entertaining point-of-view for you? Then we all win.

So yes, MGN will be in Las Vegas and while I could put it all on tik-tok with the caption: POV: When the Mean Green are in Vegas, the plan is to write about it, blog about it, and podcast about it. Not everyone gets to sit at media row, or talk to the players, or be in the non-public spaces. I always wanted the guys who had that access to let me know what it was like. I wanted the sights, sounds, and unique peeks.

The dudes that treat that kind of access with blasé or write like they were watching it on television are doing us all a disservice. That is why I wanted to jump in and see if I could do it better. I don’t think I do a half-bad job for a part-timer.

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