By Daniel Paulling, Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal
Former APSE president Tim Stephens wants to tell you about SportsManias.
On Oct. 27, he became the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for the emerging media outlet designed to collect links to stories written by reporters on professional and college beats. His job will be to persuade sports departments to become what’s called a “featured partner.”
The outlet’s co-founders believe Stephens’ years of sports journalism experience will help him.
“We’re very excited we’ll no longer have to be introducing ourselves as newcomers,” said Aymara Del Aguila, who created SportsManias with her son, Vicente Fernandez in October 2012.
Added Fernandez: “From the very first conversations that we had, we could tell he was somebody who was innovative and entrepreneurial. He’s going to allow us to grow as a company, to innovate in terms of our content. With Tim, it’s a perfect blend.”
SportsManias uses beat writers’ Twitter feeds to populate team sites on its website and app. Because it pulls links from Twitter, the site is updated in real time.
For example, every time the Tacoma News Tribune’s Mariners beat writers tweet a link to a story, a link to that story appears on SportsManias. Clicking that link sends users to the News Tribune’s story, giving the paper’s website one click.
Del Aguila and Fernandez hope their site and app become the main source for fans looking for content about a specific team or teams. Visit the SportsManias Mariners page, the thinking goes, and you don’t have to travel to different websites or sort through beat writers’ Twitter feeds.
The Miami Herald in November 2013 became the first — and only — newspaper to become what the co-founders call a featured partner. The Herald’s stories receive better play on SportsManias than other media outlets covering the same teams and, therefore, more digital traffic.
While there is no cost, SportsManias asks the Herald’s beat writers to tweet links to the site.
Del Aguila and Fernandez hope to add more featured partners — they said they’ve spoken with McClatchy, which owns the Herald — which is where Stephens comes in.
He’s spent about 20 years in sports journalism, including nine as a sports editor with the Orlando Sentinel or South Florida Sun Sentinel. He left his position as Deputy Managing Editor at CBSSports.com, where he had been two-plus years, to take the position with SportsManias, which claims 2.5 million unique visitors in October.
The Herald declined to release digital traffic numbers from referral sites.
While going from an established news outlet to a startup carries risk, he’s not overly concerned.
“I didn’t see it that way,” Stephens said. “In the case of SportsManias, I see a winning idea. I don’t see any more risk in this than anywhere in the current landscape of our profession. I’d love to say there’s security out there, but the realities of the industry and the landscape we’re in is such that there’s probably risk in anything you do.”
Other personnel moves across the country:
Associated Press: Moved Kareem Copeland from Tallahassee, Fla., writer to Utah sports writer
Comcast SportsNet: Hired Jabari Young, who had been covering Spurs for San Antonio Express-News, to cover Trail Blazers
ESPN: Hired former Boston Globe Celtics beat writer Baxter Holmes to cover Lakers/NBA … hired Jeff Borzello from CBSSports to cover college basketball recruiting … moved Hugo Balta from coordinator producer of SportsCenter to senior director of multicultural content for ESPN digital/print
Sporting News: Promoted John Turner to editorial director
SportsManias: Hired former CBSSports deputy managing editor Tim Stephens as VP of strategic partnerships
Detroit Free Press: Tigers beat writer John Lowe retired.
Indianapolis Star: Hired Gregg Doyel from CBSSports as sports columnist
Pierre Capital Journal: Hired Gidal Kaiser as sports editor
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Hired PennLive Penn State beat writer Audrey Snyder to cover Penn State
New York Daily News: Promoted Andy Clayton to Deputy Managing Editor of Digital Sports from Senior Sports Editor
Orlando Sentinel: Promoted senior writer Buddy Collings to high school sports content editor … promoted high school sports editor Steve Ruiz to local sports and enterprise content editor.