Greg Bedard started out similarly to many journalists--sitting at a desk, taking phone calls, writing box scores, and hoping his editors would let him cover something interesting. In his case, he was at The Palm Beach Post when he finally got his big break thanks to a Florida Little League Baseball team that he followed from the beginning of the season all the way to the Little League Baseball World Series. Bedard's career began during the early days of the web, but it didn't take him long to realize how integral this emerging technology was going to be to the media--and to his career.
It was around 2003 when Bedard says he started to realize how important the web--and blogging in particular--was going to be to journalism. In 2007, he became an early adopter of Twitter, becoming what he believes to be the first NFL writer to embrace the new technology. Over the years, Bedard has grown his Twitter following to more than 50,000 followers. These days, he works for Sports Illustrated as a senior writer for theMMBQ.com.
The MMBQ with Peter King is a relatively new, digital-only property that focuses exclusively on the NFL. When Peter King's contract with Sports Illustrated was up, Bedard says, he could have gone anywhere and done anything, but he decided to create this entirely new opportunity-and build his dream team from scratch. Bedard, who was covering the Patriots and the NFL at The Boston Globe from 2010 to 2013, was on King's wish list.
Now, Bedard is part of a relatively small team--four full-time writers--and while his skill as a writer and his football expertise were, no doubt, the reasons he scored a coveted position at the MMBQ, his digital savvy was also a big factor. But Bedard is careful not to give social media more recognition than it deserves. "It probably accounts for 25% of our traffic," he says. More importantly, the luster seems to have worn off Twitter for him.
"If I could quit Twitter tomorrow, I probably would," he says. In the early days of Twitter, engaging with his audience was a joy, but somewhere around the 25,000-follower mark things changed. In part, Bedard says, the sheer volume of mentions he now gets is overwhelming. "On NFL Sunday, I just close the mentions column," he says, because trying to keep up is just too much. Moreover, as many Twitter users before him have complained, some people are just downright mean. When a fan's team has just lost, the fan often takes it out on people such as Bedard. The players, he says, have it even worse.
For up-and-coming journalists looking to make a name for themselves in a digital world, Bedard points to Aaron Nagler, who he met during his days at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covering the Green Bay Packers. Nagler founded CheeseheadTV.com and parlayed his popular site and internet following into a gig at Bleacher Report. Nagler knew the same secret that Bedard lives by: Good content, Bedard says, is always at the heart of success-whether it's digital ?or in the pages of a magazine.