Home > JOUR523, Journalism > CSN’s Chris Clark talks about Comcast, online sports journalism

CSN’s Chris Clark talks about Comcast, online sports journalism

Chris Clark has been in online sports media long enough to know the ins and outs of the business, and he told an Online Sports Journalism class from DePaul University just how Comcast SportsNet keeps its head above water as a converged newsroom.

Clark, CSN’s Senior Editorial Producer, is essentially the managing editor of the network’s website: all written content – and occasionally, tweets – must first come through him before being published.

His online experience goes way back to 1993, the sort of “dark ages” of the Internet when there weren’t content management systems and everything had to be hard-coded onto websites.

Going through a myriad of online jobs – Real Fans Sports Network, CBS Sportsline (now just CBS Sports), writer/producer of whitesox.com, the Golf Channel, and MLB.com – Clark ended up at Comcast three years ago and loves his work.

“I love what I do. I’ve always been a sports fan,” Clark said. “It’s a good way to make a living if you can do it.”

Clark told the visiting DePaul class about Comcast, its ownership, and how its newsroom operates, particulary the link-up between the network’s television programming and original content produced for its website.

According to Clark, CSN has been pushing its television personnel to write more for the website, which “some have been easier to persuade than others,” he said. Similarly, writers for CSNChicago.com are now required to take video using Flip cams, which shoot in HD.

Such ideas are twofold: 1) working a converged newsroom requires journalists to be multi-taskers in order to give the “two screen experience,” according to Clark; and 2) it provides more content to the fans, whom Clark said CSN serves.

“I know it’s cliché, but we serve the fan,” he said. “We’re looking to give the Chicago sports fan everything they need, to oversaturate them with content.”

Clark highlighted Comcast’s ownership. CSN Chicago’s ownership is broken up five ways: the Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, and White Sox all have four-fifths of the station’s ownership, while parent company NBCUniversal makes up the rest. The teams, Clark said, wanted to both make money and have an outlet to air more games per season.

Although it might seem there’s a conflict of interest for a sports network to be owned by the teams it covers, Clark said that he’s never run into a conflict of interest. However, he admitted that the station does have a set of rules.

“We have to be sensitive to the team, and run stuff by them, occasionally” Clark said. “It’s not happened a lot. We’ve also decided not to run certain stories because they’re not really news.”

One such story was Hawks players Patrick Kane, John Madden and Kris Versteeg partying in the back of a limo in Vancouver, Canada. Kane and Madden were shirtless in the photos, however CSN opted not to run any story about it. Clark said the story was “not news, but gossip,” and called it a case of “boys being boys” that didn’t warrant hard news coverage.

Clark also gave the class some advice.

“[Working online] is not a 9-5 job,” he said. “You have to be able to change on the fly in this business or you’re not going to make it.

“There’s no such thing as first anymore,” Clark said. “Nobody remembers who was first. Being right is the most important thing. I’d rather take my time and be right than to be first and wrong.”

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