The Los Angeles Times has one reporter in the NBA bubble down in Orlando right now, Los Angeles Lakers beat writer Tania Ganguli. She will soon be joined by Los Angeles Clippers beat writer Dan Woike, who's slated to join his colleague for bubble life this month.
Simultaneously, the Times will be launching a new program for fans of its coverage called Full-Court Text. The idea is relatively simple: fans send a text to a number, and are therefore signed up to receive regular updates, pictures, and videos from the service via Woike and Ganguli. Per the Times, as written by Woike:
"We’re re-launching Full-Court Text with some big-time help from inside the NBA’s bubble in Orlando. Lakers beat writer Tania Ganguli is on the scene, probably behind a face covering. I’m headed there in September. Together, we will be sharing exclusive content and insights about the Lakers, the Clippers and the rest of the NBA. In addition to sending texts, videos and photos directly from the bubble, we’re working to organize special events for Full-Court Text subscribers. Maybe it’ll be Q+A sessions with writers. Maybe it’ll be game watch-a-longs with NBA legends. Maybe that legend will be Broderick Turner. It’s really all on the table and we’re open to your suggestions."
There's another element, though: these same fans can text the number asking whatever questions their hearts desire.
"This is more of an immediate, in-depth, behind the scenes look at developments with the Lakers, Clippers and the rest of the NBA in the Orlando bubble coupled with Dan and Tania’s commentary. While Twitter can be a megaphone for the masses, Full-Court Text is an intimate conversation between fans. It gives you the chance to ask questions and share opinions in private, direct messages to Times reporters. Dan and Tania might pass on some of these questions and opinions to players and coaches. They are also interested in hearing what you think would be a good story for The Times to write."
It's a solid idea to increase fan engagement and feel like the readers are being heard by their favorite reporters. It is also, however, an idea that can go really south pretty quickly.
You see, there's a very large group of people in the country who despise media members of all types right now. Perhaps you've seen them around the Internet. You probably have if you're reading this. They spew vitriol and hatred towards anybody with a press pass. Giving them a direct line to two of those people, while great for fans of pure soul who just want to get an update on Rajon Rondo's injury, makes it all too easy for those who have less pure intentions.
It's not like Woike and Ganguli are going to see every message sent to this service. I'd imagine the Times has a team of interns or something to sift through the thousands of texts for worthwhile content to put into an aforementioned Q&A or something of the sort. But there will likely be some horrendous messages thrown in there, which is too bad because it really is a good idea.
I hope that doesn't happen, of course. But the last six or so months have not exactly given this writer a more positive outlook overall, so don't blame me for having doubt.s