By: Kaari Dreyer
Walking into the Hamilton Swimming Pool on January 21st, I didn’t think about it being my last social media night. The past social media nights have been chaotic and I was expecting nothing less from this night.
I knew that swimming is a sport that I hadn’t covered before and didn’t have the best understanding of, but I was excited for a challenge to learn to cover a new sport in real time.
I sat at my computer getting all of my files ready for the massive intake of information I was about to receive. As I sat there, I heard them announce the first race, and I kept refreshing my email for the results. I finally received the results, and the information kept piling up after that.
Before I could even finish my first graphic, I had three more emails with results from the following races. From there, it was chaos trying to finish graphics and push them out as quickly as possible to be in real time with the meet. I was stressed as there was a steady flow of information to inform the public of. The goal is to update the public of the event to make it feel as though they are at the event and can visualize each event occurring.
It was a constant rush to finish a graphic and get the next graphic out. It wasn’t until diving I could take a break, as results were no longer flowing in. It was like being in the eye of the storm, there’s a break in the chaos but you know there is more chaos coming.
While I may not have been tasked with anything at the time, you could see everyone else still running around trying to relay to the public what was happening. There was Josh Williams with a GoPro getting underwater videos of the diving, Collin Costello taking those videos and creating highlights to post.
From there the rest of my classmates were taking pictures and posting them to social media with a summary of what was happening. Others were running SD cards in and out of the office to be uploaded on computers to get a gallery out quickly. There were people videotaping it all, people taking videos, people writing tweets, and people posting to instagram.
Before I knew it, diving was done and it was back to work. I received scores from diving and before I even opened my computer to start making graphics, I heard the next race begin. Not only is it a race for the swimmers, but a race for me to finish the graphics. This continued for the duration of the remaining events, the constant flow of information needing to be transcribed and relayed to the public.
Not only was the night chaotic, but the weeks leading up to the night were busy as well. The weeks leading up to it consisted of photoshoots, searching for inspiration, and hours of Photoshop. Leading up to social media night I had to create templates for each graphic, for each swimmer and relay, so when the information came in, I could easily just add text with timing and get it posted rather than recreating the entire graphic.
It was planning photoshoots, executing photoshoots, uploading pictures, cutting pictures out, and creating graphics. It took weeks to get to social media night to even be able to upload those graphics. There is so much behind the scenes of social media night that not everyone gets to see.
As a graphic designer, everything posted to social media that night is done in photoshop. Weeks before the event, all of the templates are made in order to be prepared and be able to post in a timely manner. Templates for each event need to be made in order to be edited for each different result. In every event, it is possible for there to be something that occurs that you don’t have a template for, so you need to be able to think on the fly and create something of quality in a small amount of time.
Not all of my social media nights throughout my four years of CHS have looked like this. Each social media night has been for different sports. My sophomore year we covered a basketball game in our home gym, junior year we covered another basketball game, and this year I have been a part of two social media nights.
This year I was a part of a social media night for volleyball but it was different from the past events, as we weren’t in our home gym. Our volleyball team was at districts in Hopkins about 20 minutes away and we decided to go there and cover the game as a social media night.
Lastly, we covered a swim meet which is different than the rest as we had underwater cameras which has not been done in my time in CHS. There are many different roles within the night and one night that sticks out from the rest is my sophomore year.
During my sophomore year, we decided to live stream the double header basketball games in our gym with play by play covering the game. That year consisted of setting up cameras, and switching cameras for the best angle for the viewers. Before the game we had to come in and wire all of the cameras to different spots with different angles. From there, we had to set up the booth in which we could see all of the angles and hear the play by play commentary in order to choose the best angle to coincide with the audio.
Being a part of social media night has exposed a lot of the behind the scenes of an event. From setting up photoshoots, to setting up autograph sessions with the team, to making graphics, to taking pictures, to running a live stream, there are a lot of roles to fill to make the night be successful. Being able to see all of these different aspects has helped me grow in journalism to see more of the aspects of journalism and what it is like to live cover an event. Live covering an event differs greatly from covering an event once it has been completed.
Getting quality content out in a timely fashion is hard to do as you need to be picky about how everything is done. It is hard to do as there is so much to get out in a short period of time, it is easy to throw quality to the wind but it is important to keep in mind that the audience still expects the same quality. With that, I thank social media night for the exposure to journalism and the real life stress of it, without it, I wouldn’t have found my true passion in sports event coverage and all that comes with it.