Technology’s New Role in Sports Reportage

Raptors HQ Reflects Changing Times

Patrick Connors – Toronto: This is the final installment of my three part interview with Adam “Franchise” Francis of Raptors HQ.

How does the presence of Raptors HQ reflect changes in the way sports are covered and also enjoyed by fans?

“I think that’s one of the most interesting elements of the last five years for us.  When we started, there was one other Raptors’ blog, Scott Carefoot’s Raptorblog.  It truly was a blog, one where Scott posted his thoughts on the team when he felt so inclined, but it didn’t resemble your traditional media coverage of the club in the slightest.  It was always my intent to bridge the two worlds and so we began daily posts with previews and recaps of games, and while they were still written from a first person perspective, they incorporated many traditional media elements.

“Back then, the traditional media in general was not a fan of this type of “merging of worlds,” so it’s been fascinating to see the same media start to take on a social media twist over the last few years.

“It’s been necessary though, as blogs like ours were offering almost 24-7 coverage and fans were lapping it up.  This meant that the traditional media’s readership began to erode, and thus they were forced to start blogging, tweeting and participating in a game that many of us created.”
How do people get drawn to your site?  What are the interactions like?

“From a “how do we get folks in the door the first time” angle I think we’ve done a great job in getting our brand out there.  A quick search on Google for Raptors or Raptors blog and we turn up quite easily, and we were early adopters of other entry channels like Twitter and Youtube.

“However as they say, “content is king,” and I think people have always been drawn to the HQ for two reasons.  First, we provide consistent, innovative, well-thought-out, and well-written content about the team, the type that is not always abundant, even amongst the mainstream media.  Second, I think we’ve done a great job of cultivating a certain type of Raptors’ fan, one who enjoys well thought-out discussions about various topics, and who sometimes posts comments that are more insightful and lengthy than the original article they’re commenting on!  This breeds a great community feeling on the site, which I’d like to think keeps people coming back for more.

“It doesn’t hurt that we also are the only non-traditional Raptors’ site out there that has press access.”

What kind of a staff do you have working with you?

“We seem to be growing on a monthly basis right now!  As mentioned, there were 3 of us writing originally, all sharing in the duties.  However one dropped off, and the other suddenly became quite busy in his 9 to 5 career, so for a good couple years it was basically me, myself and I doing the bulk of the work.  We brought on our first writer from outside the original trio in 2008, and then in 2009 we really expanded the roster bringing in someone to write specifically about Canadian basketball, Ray Bala, and someone to help with social media

“However as our site continues to grow in traffic and reach, so does the need for assistance and in the last few months we’ve brought on four more new members; former Score “Drafted” finalist Jayne Erickson to help on various video projects, two Ryerson Journalism students to intern for us and help with writing and press functions, and now someone who will eventually be dedicated to fantasy basketball, especially from a Raptors’ perspective.  I think that should do it for a while but I remember saying that a year ago, too!”

On Tuesday, the Raptors traded Miami’s 2011 first-round draft pick, acquired in the Chris Bosh sign-and-trade, to the Chicago Bulls for James Johnson, a 2009 first round draft pick who had been unable to crack the Bulls rotation.  With his size, athleticism, and ability to play both Small Forward and Power Forward, Johnson is a potentially strong addition, albeit a highly understated one compared to some of the moves going on around the league this past week .  This is not the big move embattled Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo needs to make to restore the Raptors to the status of a playoff team.  However, it is a small step in the right direction, as Colangelo gets the Raptors ready for future developments.

In that spirit, the “Franchise” gets the last word, with his future vision for Raptors HQ.

“I don’t think any of us saw things going as far as they have so in some ways, we take it a day at a time.  Our original goal was just to build a great community where Raptors’ fans could discuss their team and we accomplished that goal.  We never had much in terms of monetary goals, but, by selling our site to SB Nation in July of 2009, we more than hit that target.

“I guess I’d further like to grow the community, and further strengthen our ties to the team in some ways.  More importantly, I want to continue bringing innovative content to readers, and I think we’ve taken some big steps towards accomplishing that goal, including hopefully an allegiance with Sportsnet.ca, something we’ve been working on the last few months.”

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