Interview: Cindy Boren

Cindy Boren turned a family activity - going to sporting events as a child - into a full-time job, working at the New York Daily News and eventually becoming an editor at The Washington Post, where she feeds the fan base of the Washington Redskins information via print, the Web, and Twitter.

Cindy Boren turned a family activity – going to sporting events as a child – into a full-time job, working at the New York Daily News and eventually becoming an editor at The Washington Post, where she feeds the fan base of the Washington Redskins information via print, the Web, and Twitter.

PRWeek: How did you get interested in sports when you were starting out?

Cindy Boren: As a juvenile delinquent – no I'm only kidding…It was the natural path. My family always enjoyed it, and it was not certainly that I was talented at it or anything, heaven knows. Typically, as is the case with most, I think, with writers, we do things we weren't any good at, and that's what you gravitate towards and you do what you can…So, with my family, its idea of a good time was going to the ball game or a football game occasionally.

PRWeek: Working at the Post, in Washington, has it impacted the coverage at all that the new president is such a big sports fan, and known for working out?

Boren: Not yet – I think it will be interesting to see once he, oh, I don't know, get some of the serious stuff that he has to get out of the way done, and once he's able to have a little bit of fun. It'll be interesting to see if he shows up at the [Washington] Nationals [baseball club games] when the [Chicago] Cubs are in town, or if they play the White Sox. Or maybe or if he goes to a Redskins home game at FedEx Field, it will be interesting to see. He seems to be more out and about in the community than President [George W.] Bush was. He's already, in the two and a half weeks he's been here, been at restaurants and out snarling traffic, which we don't like. But it is good having the feeling that he likes to be here.

PRWeek: What's the biggest difference about the way that a broadsheet like the Post covers sports and the way that a tabloid like the New York Daily News does?

Boren: There really isn't a great deal because the Daily News is very responsible, and we all check our sources just as carefully at both places, and we are not likely to go with something that is not well sourced and well grounded. The only real diff is length; you don't have the luxury of length [at the Daily News] that you would have at a broadsheet.

PRWeek: You've seen a lot of changes in media, and obviously there is a lot of talk of media cutbacks. What would you say is the biggest difference between now and when you started out?

Boren: You know it was lean when I started out, twenty-some years ago, and then it grew and grew and grew. Maybe it got too big; maybe we were covering some things that we shouldn't have been. Now you have to look at it as a positive, the best you can, in terms of what should we be covering. It makes you ask that question - It's not like Christmas morning anymore - you have to sit and say, ‘What do we need to be doing?' That puts more focus back on the readers. What do they want?

PRWeek: There has also been some changes as far as technology and interaction with the readers.

Boren: Exactly. It's much more, particularly because there's an online component. You can put up a commentary piece and they can jump on and reply on the blogs. We have a lot more interaction with readers than I have ever had in my career – and it's all good. Once news started to shift to the Web, you could get the info and the scores out there ASAP, so to speak, and not the next morning. And it tends to consume your life a little more than sports already does, but it is great fun and it's very cool because it's constant dialogue and conversation. In particularly with the Redskins, there is no information is too small for us to want to own it. And we want to own it first and we want to put it up. We hold very few things for the paper. We all put almost everything up on the blog first.

PRWeek: The Post has undertaken an effort to use Twitter in its Redskins coverage. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Boren: I sort of pushed that; that's my baby. And we decided to do it this summer…Football season with the Redskins started on July 20 with training camp, and so I said I was just going to jump in. So I just jumped in and tried to figure it out…and I put new bulletins up there. With Twitter, sometimes you'll get [information] a little more quickly than you would on the blogs because the publishing system works more quickly than the blog publishing system.

PRWeek: In a previous conversation, you mentioned really interesting interaction with readers via Twitter. You mentioned a car fire once. Any other stories you can tell us about your use of Twitter?

Boren: We probably got a half dozen by the end of the season who would go to the game and put the pictures on Flickr and link to them – their photos from the stands, it was mostly, ‘Here's what I can see' – one posted that from a Ravens game. And it's very convenient for the injury reports because people are out in the parking lot tailgating before the game and they want to know who is tailgating and who isn't, and so you can Twitter the injury report. And that way they know instantly, an hour and a half before the game, who is going to be unavailable, which is important. It works out really well.

PRWeek: What's your interaction like with PR professionals? Do you work a lot with the Redskins PR staff, or the [Washington] Wizards' or [that of] the Nationals?

Boren: We don't as much as you would think, because we are there all the time. So if we were only covering it from the office, we would go through them more frequently, but mostly [we work with them on] clarifying statistics, thing like that. That's mostly the interaction. We've been very fortunate; they're great and very responsive when we ask them questions.

Name: Cindy Boren

Title: NFL/Redskins editor

Outlet: The Washington Post

Preferred e-mail address: borenc@washpost.com

Web site: www.washingtonpost.com

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