The SEC’s troubling approach to news on the Internet

The Southeastern Conference’s new “finalized” media credidentials policy is still troubling to news organizations that regularly cover the storied football schools of the South, despite some concessions from the draft that was leaked last week to an Alabama news organization.

The outrage over the stricter draft version illustrates the way traditional media concepts of “live broadcast rights,” control of multimedia rights, “accredited media,” and what constitutes coverage are becoming irrelevant. We’re in an era where the distinctions between print and broadcast are forever blurred,  where newspapers don’t want to be defined by their printed paper technologies and where broadcasting doesn’t mean just something transmitted over the air.

For newspapers, TV and other media, the Internet is the news platform of not only the future, but today. That could be any combination of Web site, cell phone, TV screen, Twitter or Facebook, Yahoo, Google or some other other technology or service that I haven’t heard of or have forgotten.

It’s an era where wondering who’s a participant, a journalist or just part of the audience is a valid question. The game-changer — and a sports analogy is apt in this context — is that with Social Media the audience is part of the action and “news” is a part of a never-ending stream of information.

I was watching the Little League World Series on ESPN Thursday night. Every time the camera panned to the stands between innings, moms, sisters, dads, brothers and everyone else was texting away on their cell phones to friends, to Twitter, to Facebook, to wherever.

The SEC new policies have left more than one prescient observer of the Internet scratching their heads.

In short, the SEC is out of its league.