President’s column: Monitoring safety and access as the season begins

By Matt Fortuna

Greetings from game day, which in my case meant Death Valley for a primetime Thursday debut of the defending national champs, and in your case can mean anywhere from Minneapolis to College Station, with plenty of places in between.

2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna

With talkin’ season over and the actual football season finally here, I wanted to check in with our membership and share some of the themes we have been gathering from across the country during both the media days circuit and the fall camp circuit.

We have heard plenty of good, such as the school that reached out to FWAA board member Nicole Auerbach to ask what the program could do to ensure the safety of women who cover night games there this season.

We have also heard some not so-good, such as the assistant coaches at one school who have reached out to multiple reporters on their beat to complain about protocols put in place by their media relations folks.

Conference media days are always tough events to measure when it comes to convenience, given the differing needs of so many different outlets in a short time span. I do want to single out the Pac-12’s operation, however, for running a first-class event. I went out to Los Angeles on behalf of the FWAA in July, and I have to say, whether your outlet was in print, on television or on radio, you were able to get every single thing you needed in a relaxed environment — all in a day’s span. Bravo.

Additionally, members of our access committee have kept their eyes and ears to the ground in reporting back to us about matters both good and bad that they have come across. It is important to remember that this is a two-way street between media and SIDs, and that we must be able to police ourselves if we see someone on one of our beats abusing the privileges that we receive as part of our jobs. As always, I am available for any questions or advice at mfortuna@theathletic.com.

With all of that being said, now the real fun (and pressure) begins. Games will be won and lost, which means that questions will become a little more specific, which in turn means that coaches and players will become a little more guarded in their answers. Let’s all remember how mutually beneficial all of our relationships can be. As ESPN’s CFB150 special, “Football Is Us,” reminded us last week, Knute Rockne — arguably the most famous coach of them all — was the absolute best when it came to PR.

I’d say that philosophy worked out pretty well for all parties he came across.

Happy football season, everyone! Look forward to hearing from you all.

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