Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's been about a month my last post. I've been busy doing photo-related activities, but unfortunately haven't been shooting as much as I'd like.

The end of August is an interesting time: the WNBA winds down, the semi-pro baseball league wraps things up, and summer leagues close down for players to return to college. MLB is still in full swing, as is professional soccer, but it's still too early for Fall collegiate athletics.

I've been very busy working on my photo management system. A week or so ago before my last post I started realizing that I needed to improve how I post-process photos. I've been working feverishly to distill some of my larger shoots into a reasonable set of "best" shots. Some of my games aren't too hard because I don't have very many good shots, but shoots require me to sift through 100 photos I previously considered my "best" to see exactly which ones should make it into the "really best" album.

I located a piece of software named SlideShowPro. It's $25 for a license and does a great job at presenting your photos in a Flash player. They've packaged it such that you can provide an XML file that lists all the photos and albums in your gallery and the software takes care of the rest. It's really easy to use!

I started working on some software to help me manage the XML files I'm putting out on my site. I'm also doing this for Al Santos and the DC Sports Box. Although writing XML by hand is reasonable for me, it's too difficult for Al and other non-programmers to do. When I finish this software it will take care of posting the pictures up in the right location for us.

Over on the DC Sports Box we've been frustrated lately over our experience in requesting credentials for University of Maryland athletic events. When we approached the Mystics, Nationals, and DC United earlier this year we were a brand new organization with a tiny website. Now we're rapidly approaching incorporation, we have hundreds of articles, and nearly a thousand visitors a month. Thankfully those professional organizations were willing to "give us a chance" by offering us individual credentials for a handful of games with the understanding that we would "see how it goes." If we did a good job they'd give us more.

By the end of the season we had season credentials to all 3 of those professional organizations. We're really proud of that and we reference that when we court new teams that we'd like to promote on our website. Most of them have gone the same route as our early adopters and have offered us individual credentials with the promise of "we'll see how it goes".

Unfortunately Maryland has been quite the opposite. A few weeks ago they flat-out denied our credential request for the Maryland Football game against Villanova. We kind of saw it coming given how much attention Maryland Football gets. But the other day we requested a credential for the Women's Soccer game against GMU and were denied. The same gentleman that denied our football request denied our GMU request.

It really rubs us the wrong way to be flat-out denied for women's soccer. In all the other professional organizations we were given a chance. But Maryland won't even give us a chance at Women's Soccer. It's pretty unbelievable.

During the Spring I attended an event called Maryland Day, and I was in the Maryland Room when AD Yow, along with Women's Basketball Head Coach Brenda Friese, made a big push for promoting women's athletics. Here we are a short 4 months later attempting to do just that and we're being turned down. Unbelievable...

When we chatted with the media relations gentleman that denied our request we found out that the football AD was the person that actually denied our request. The media relations gentleman suggested we try to put more Maryland content on our website and put in additional requests. We asked how we were supposed to put Maryland content up on our site when we couldn't attend games as credentialed writers and photographers. It's a catch-22: you have to put Maryland content on your site in order to get credentialed, but you need a credential in order to shoot and write Maryland content. So in the meantime we're going to take the post-game writeups from Maryland and cross-post them to our site. It's sad, but maybe it will make a difference.

Overall we're very disappointed with our experience with Maryland Athletics. Al has worked at Maryland for 10 years in the engineering department and is a graduate. I'm a graduate from 2 schools and I can hear the Maryland chapel bells from my house a mile away. One of our writers is pursuing his master's in journalism from Maryland. We have another writer from Maryland, as well as a photographer. We all live and breath Maryland, and we want to promote the incredible athletic program AD Yow and her staff have assembled. But we're constantly being blocked by them. And at the same time we get credentials to several professional athletic events, as well as an open pass from GW to any sport we want any time we want. It's so frustrating...

I hope that Maryland gives us a shot. I have no doubt we can do a great job. However, I do have doubts about our ability to convince them that we'll do a great job.


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