Covering the Orioles: Q & A with Steve Melewski of MASN

This is the third of a four-part series spotlighting members of the media covering the Orioles. For each reporter/blogger, I e-mailed a series of five questions with a promise to print their answers verbatim. I hope I asked at least some of the questions you would have.

MONDAY: Jeff Zrebiec, Orioles beat reporter, The (Baltimore) Sun

TUESDAY: Brittany Ghiroli, Orioles beat reporter, MLB.com

TODAY: Steve Melewski, Orioles blogger, MASNsports.com

THURSDAY: Dean Jones, Jr., Orioles minor league affiliates blogger, The (Baltimore) Sun

Steve Melewski is an Orioles blogger at MASNsports.com, the web-based home of the Orioles & Nationals television network. I asked him about covering the team as a blogger and how he juggles O's coverage with covering the Orioles affiliates as well. Let's begin...

  Stevemelewski_medium


1)  You are tasked with covering six different Orioles minor league affiliates with your MASN blog as well as the Orioles themselves. How much contact do you have with someone from each affiliate over the course of a week, and do you get the chance to see many of the games of any of the affiliates?

Really, it is more than that, seven teams counting the Gulf Coast O's and nine if you count two teams in the Dominican Summer League.  That's over 200 players I think.

My first order of business is to speak often with David Stockstill, who heads up the O's minors.  He has been wonderful to deal with and understands I need to be in contact often with him to get info.

Since every minor league decision is made by or must pass through Dave's desk, he is a real key person for me and has been generous with his time and info.  Believe me, some days I'm sure he doesn't want yet another call from me, but he takes it or gets back as soon as he can.

In addition to that, I constantly check boxscores and stats for trends, injuries, hot hitters, etc.  I try to have at least one key contact with each club that I can get info from.  Also each day I am sent the daily game notes (via e-mail) by each of the full season teams.  I try to read each one or at least scan it for interesting info.

I don't get to see nearly as many games as I'd like, but do get to Frederick, Bowie and Aberdeen several times each.  I need to try and work in Delmarva and Norfolk this year.  The folks at each club are very helpful and really seem to appreciate the coverage.

So it's not so much weekly contacts, but trying daily to keep up with as much as I can and follow the big club.  I also have developed good relationships with many minor league players who have been nice enough to provide a phone number or e-mail contact.

 

2)  Do you have much interaction with your commenters? And how do you deal with the more frustrating ones? What does it take for a comment to not get approved?

We have contact in that we are happy to answer their questions or add a comment to their comments.  I really enjoy hearing from the fans.

Just like almost any website, we have our share of guys seeking attention or just looking to rip someone every day.   We publish almost everything they write.

We don't let bad language get published or try not to let someone "hijack" a thread.  If we write about the starting rotation and someone just wants to write and rip Andy MacPhail we usually try not to let them drift too far off topic if we can.

3)  You and Roch Kubatko both cover the Orioles full-time for MASN. How are decisions made on who covers what and how do you and Roch make sure the other isn't pursuing the same story at the same time?

Roch and I work well together.  We've known each other many years, dating to my days at WBAL and his with The Sun.

We have a few things in common like Baltimore roots, a love of baseball and the hope that our hometown team will be a winner again one day, among other things.

We do talk about stories we are writing or working on to try not to "duplicate" too much.  At home games we'll discuss how to cover a big story like the Matt Wieters callup or a trade.  On a "normal" day we keep each other up to date on interviews we've done and what we are working on.  It seems to work well. 

I admire Roch for his dedication and work ethic and he's great to work with.  I especially like it if he is looking to buy the first round at Sliders.

4)   You hear something about a possible trade or move with a player. What's the process in chasing down a lead? How many phone calls, who gets called, and when are you satisfied you have enough to report?

That one can be complicated.  If it's a home game we probably go directly to the player if we have sufficient info on something and see what he says.

We also check with management as often as we can.  That can be Dave Trembley, Andy MacPhail or David Stockstill about the minors.

You try to contact as many possible sources as you can to include maybe another media member, an agent, a front office member of another club if it's pertinent.

You always try to get info from the top if you can.  That means mostly Andy MacPhail and/or Trembley.  It means Stockstill on minor league matters.

Sometimes you may just be having a casual conversation before a game with a club official and he mentions something that may be newsworthy.

There are a lot of frustrations here, because sometimes the club cannot confirm something you feel certain you have accurate info on.  They are waiting for a certain reason.  You could write something that is speculation but you have to be careful with that.

5)   What are the biggest differences so far in covering the Orioles as a blogger rather than a traditional reporter?

I think there are some differences, but also ways it is similar.  At our website, I'd like to think we are devoted to solid reporting and would not publish rumors.

Since your name is on the story, you want the facts to be right, the words spelled properly, all the stats to be correct and so on.

Here is this now internet age, the difference is ten years ago a writer wrote a story that fans didn't see until the next morning.  Now some tweet a headline, then 10 minutes later have a story online, then 10 minutes later add quotes or whatever.

In the blogging world, it seems to be more about getting several stories out there that are shorter, rather than a real long, feature-type piece.

Now it seems almost everyone has a blog of some sort and almost all outlets are in the mode to get a story out there quickly.  This pressure has already caused a few stories that off base by credible reporters.  We all have to be careful about that.

Plus, of course, we can and do interact with fans and readers more than ever before.  I like that part of it.

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