• Apr

    Q&A w/ Matt Vensel, Baltimore Sun

    On a regular basis throughout this 2011 season, Orioles Hangout will be reaching out to different local outlets who cover the O’s. These interviews will be crafted not only to gain the subject’s views on the Orioles, but to gain further insight on the subject .

    In this installment of the series, we speak with Matt Vensel who writes the Baltimore Sports Blitz Blog (http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/baltimore-sports-blog/) for the Baltimore Sun.Prior to joining The Sun in February, Vensel had spent the previous 3 years working for The Sun’s free daily paper ‘B’(http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/bthesite/).

    You can also find Vensel on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/mattvensel

    Orioles Hangout: “The Virtual Vensanity blog you were doing for ‘B’ was obviously successful enough that you were called up to the show with The Sun. I would imagine on a day-to-day basis the job has not changed much at all for you. Is there a culture difference now working with The Sun?"

    Matt Vensel: “The newsroom is much, much bigger and the walls aren’t painted bright orange, but the atmosphere is about the same. There were 10 of us at b and there are hundreds here, but everyone is super busy at both places, so there isn’t much chatter. I was the only sports guy at b, though, so it’s great for me to work in The Sun newsroom with people like Jamison Hensley, Ken Murray, Peter Schmuck, etc., along with a bunch of very knowledgeable guys who are behind the scenes here.”

    Orioles Hangout: “One of the popular elements of the Baltimore Sports Blitz is your Monday through Friday Coffee Companion, which provides reading material from around the blogopshere on the O’s (as well as the Ravens and Terps). If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, be flattered that I’m now doing something similar here on Orioles Hangout. By my estimation, you are the first member of The Sun to regularly be linking to 3rd party blogs. How do your colleagues with The Sun feel about you increasing the exposure of such sites?”

    Matt Vensel: “It’s something we’re starting to encourage more and more here. We’re getting ready to launch a new blog network with a bunch of local bloggers whose topics range from politics to food to sports and more. I decided to do the Coffee Companion concept – and it’s not an original one – on the old blog because there are many great local sports blogs, specifically the ones that cover the Orioles (consider that a challenge from me, Ravens fans), that were putting out interesting content and analysis. I think it’s convenient for readers to check out that post every morning at 9 a.m. and see what everyone else is talking about out in the blogosphere, especially if they’re lazy like me.”

    Orioles Hangout: “As you link to the works, presumably you see something worthwhile in the commentary. How do you think professional teams (and Major College Athletics) should handle media credentials for such blogs?”

    Matt Vensel: “I think if a blog has established itself as legitimate, professional and ethical, it should be credentialed as long as there is room in the press box after print, radio and TV are done (and there is almost always room with the exception of important games). I think it’s very cool that the Orioles have reached out to local bloggers this year, and the Capitals have been trend-setters in this department.”

    Orioles Hangout: “You are not part of The Sun’s Orioles Insider blog, but I thought you greatly aided the local O’s conversation this pring with your interviews of Keith Law, Rob Neyer, and Ken Rosenthal. As far as who gets to conduct such Q&A’s internally, is that first-come, first-serve or is there a bit of turf war?”

    Matt Vensel: “I’d say it’s first-come, first-serve when it comes to blog content, but obviously we try to be aware of what everyone else is up to as to ensure we don’t step on each other’s toes. But our Insider guys are around the team all the time and getting all the good stuff straight from the players’ mouths. Meanwhile, I spend a lot of time scouring the Internet at my desk, so there is rarely overlap in coverage.”

    Orioles Hangout: “You have been reporting locally for over 3 years now. Speak a bit about how blogging has evolved in that short period. (For instance, the use of Twitter becoming far more prevelant this past year.) Not asking you to predict the next ‘Twitter’, but are there other changes you envision with local coverage in the near-term? (3-5 years) Do you think The Sun will eliminate a print edition during that time period?”

    Matt Vensel: “Well, there is a 24-hour news cycle now, and news can be reported instantaneously and spread throughout the blogosphere in minutes. Take the Debbie Yow’s recent comments about Gary Williams for example. A couple of news outlets Tweeted it, and within a few minutes, we had a blog post up and were in the process of Gary on the phone for a comment. As a journalist, you have to balance getting the information out as quickly as possible and making sure the information is accurate. It can be challenging. In terms of the future of print media, I think you’ll see more of a push for mobile content. Everyone will have smart phones five years from now – and there will be smarter phones, I’m sure – and the next frontier is getting a wide array of content onto those phones in an easy-to-digest form.”     

    Orioles Hangout: “What has been your general takeaway on the O’s so far, and what will you directly be looking for during the remainder of April?”

    Matt Vensel: “The Orioles have been very impressive so far despite an anemic offense. Jeremy Guthrie has been fun to watch, and I’m surprised to see Zach Britton pitch this well right from the get-go. People are already dismissing the Rays, but sweeping them on the road was an encouraging sign, and the Tigers, the Rangers and the Yankees are all good teams. If the Orioles can survive this tough month with a winning record, they could stay in the conversation in the AL East until August or September. I worry that the rainouts and off-days are slowing their early-season momentum, though, and getting their young pitchers out of whack. But the first two weeks have been a lot of fun.”

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Michael Williams

Lifelong. Down by the river.