Social media lets readers get involved

November 27, 2013 

Last week, on a whim, I held a question-and-answer session on my Twitter page. I encouraged my followers to submit their questions with the hashtag #AskGatewayJon.

I didn’t expect too much, and my boss poked fun at the idea, asking, “Does it count if half your questions come from co-workers?”

Very funny, Brian.

However, to my surprise, I received quite a few good questions from several people. I bring this up not just for self-promotion (although, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a bonus), but because social media presents a unique opportunity for readers to connect more intimately with today’s newsroom.

The benefits of Twitter are twofold: Interacting with students and fans has given me a valuable opportunity to gauge the community’s pulse, and it has provided readers a chance to interact with me directly. The result is more personal and accurate writing that is better tailored to the community’s interests.

Oh, and it’s fun, too.

Here are some of the questions I received in the Q&A. Since Twitter limits each tweet to 140 characters, I’ve expanded on some of my answers.

For many of you reading this in print, perhaps you’re not fully immersed in the technology generation and don’t have a Twitter account. If that’s the case, I would encourage you to get involved with social media; “Like” our facebook page, and follow us individually on Twitter. It makes for a more enriching journalistic experience for all parties involved.

@Runnkinn: Favorite sports team you’ve covered this year and why?

A: Gig Harbor and Peninsula football. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the sports teams I’ve covered this fall, but if I had to pick a favorite, it’d be football. There’s something special about Friday night lights, and the buzz around the community on gameday. The excitement is unparalleled; the crowds are great, and the hits are hard.

I’m not exaggerating or pandering to my readers when I say — unequivocally — that the Fish Bowl was the best high school football game I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere was electric, the crowd was great, and the product on the field was fantastic. I was lucky enough to cover two state-tournament teams this year, and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career.

@DkSousz: On a scale of one to radtastic, how ill is the Pacific Northwest?

A: Can’t beat the #PNW. Wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

@emczak: What’s your favorite thing about your job?

A: I get paid to watch sports. Can’t beat that. But seriously, I feel honored to start my career in a community that is so invested and enthusiastic about sports. The support from parents and fans at both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools is impressive. It’s been my pleasure to work with great coaches and players.

@awin2242: Better high school basketball player: Avery Bradley or Abdul Gaddy?

A: That’s a great question. I played with both of them at Bellarmine Prep, and they’re both phenomenal basketball players. While I have tremendous respect for Abdul as a player and person, I’d have to go with Avery.

When they were underclassmen, I would’ve given the edge to Abdul, but when Avery started developing his jumpshot, his game was lethal.

Also, Avery had unique defending skills — he could lock down anyone.

@nolanwinter20: Who is your favorite Peninsula Seahawk?

A: You, obviously.

@adam_gallion: Are we still going to be friends when #GatewayJon is trending nationally? I really hope so.

A: Of course, Adam. I could never forget about you.

Q from former Gateway Sports Editor Neil Pierson, @sammamish_neil: Did you manage to find your way around state swim, or was it an overwhelming first experience?

A: Everything is so new to me and can sometimes be overwhelming. Fortunately, I had covered the district swim meet at Curtis Aquatic Center a couple weeks earlier, so I had an idea of what to do.

I had a blast at the state swim meet. Since the state meet is the culmination of months, sometimes years, of hard work, it’s fun to see the athletes give everything they have in each race.

Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at jon.manley@gateline.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.

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