Examining Mississippi State’s Newspaper Beat Writers


Everybody hates Mississippi State.

At least that is the thought I get from a lot Mississippi State fans when they start talking about the publications that cover the school. Their job is to cover the team and provide news and information that the fans want. They are also supposed to be objective, and that doesn’t always mean they will report on things that fans want to hear about. These guys aren’t fans. That isn’t the reason they are there. If they were, they probably wouldn’t get the job. It’s one thing to be objective and report on things that are both positive and negative; it’s a completely different thing altogether when a beat writer seems to go out of their way to drum up clicks and page views by being overtly negative. So who does this well and who doesn’t? I’m only aware of four on Twitter, so I will stick to those guys.

Mike Bonner from The Clarion Ledger

Jul 16, 2013; Hoover, AL, USA; A general view of media members and writers in the man ballroom during the 2013 SEC football media days at the Hyatt Regency. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Bonner was hired last year after Brandon Marcello left to go be a beat writer covering the Auburn Tigers. He’s young and enthusiastic, and he originally hales from the New England area. I have seen very little negative reaction from State fans about Bonner. Does that mean he does or doesn’t do a good job? It’s hard to say. One thing that could be limiting negativity is the fact that the Clarion Ledger went to a paid online sight. I don’t subscribe. I hate paying for things like newspaper subscriptions. I understand why they do it, but that certainly doesn’t mean I am going to pay for it. What I have seen from Bonner has been pretty balanced. He appears to know that his audience wants to hear good things, and when there are, he typically brings those to light. He also tries to be funny, and he is hit or miss on that when it comes to his Twitter account. He doesn’t shy away from negativity, but I am okay with that because he doesn’t seem to revel in it. Here are some of his tweets:

Logan Lowery from The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

Lowery took over the Beat Writer Job at the Daily Journal when Brad Locke took a different position at the paper. Lowery is similar to Bonner. He doesn’t shy away from anything related to Mississippi State, whether it is good or bad. He also likes to throw his own special brand of humor into his tweets. One thing I like about Lowery is that he doesn’t shy away from his personal opinion about things when he tweets or writes on the blog portion of the Daily Journal’s website. Here are some of his tweets:

Ben Wait of The Starkville Daily News

Wait is the Beat Writer of the smallest paper I know of that has a beat writer for the Bulldogs. I don’t see as much from Wait as I do the others, and that isn’t surprising since it is a smaller paper. What I have gathered from Wait is that he is a very unique guy. I still haven’t figured out what the picture is he uses as an avatar on Twitter, but it is cool to look at.  Wait is very straight forward when it comes to reporting.  There never appears to be any slant on what he says when covering the Dogs. His sense of humor comes into play more often in his replies to people who Tweet at him. I haven’t seen anything to suggest that he is reviled by the Mississippi State faithful. One thing interesting about Wait, I have never seen him tweet a link to his article. I just went through his timeline and never saw one all the way back to the Liberty Bowl. I’m not sure why that is. He does have articles posted on the SDN, but no tweets linking them. I find that interesting. And here are some of his Tweets:

Matthew Stevens of the Commerical Dispatch

Let me start by giving Stevens praise for using a picture of Snoopy typing with a Reporter’s hat on. I love Snoopy. Besides that, there isn’t much good that I can say about Stevens. He writes for the Commercial Dispatch in Columbus, and unlike some of the other beat writers, he seems to go out of his way to antagonize the Mississippi State fanbase. I am certainly not alone when it comes to this opinion. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you skipped all the other guys, and you scrolled all the way down here just to get my opinion on Stevens. I could have written an entire article completely about his coverage. Here is an example of one of his tweets:

It really doesn’t make any sense for the beat writer of a team to tweet out an article about how one guy at ESPN thinks the rival of the team the beat writer covers will be in the Top 25 next year, but the team the beat writer covers won’t. The only explanation is that he wanted to get attention. I don’t see how there is any other explanation.

He also drew a lot of hate when he started talking about what Dak Prescott might accomplish next year. Mississippi State fans are very enthusiastic about what might happen next year with the football team. A lot of people think that if we have a break out season, then Dak will be a major contributing factor. That might put him in line to be discussed as a Heisman candidate. Don’t worry though, Stevens was there to squelch all of your optimism.

Is he always negative? No. But I have never seen a beat writer so vociferously attacked for being negative like I have with Stevens. He always claims that he is just being objective, and he is going to report on everything, whether it is good or bad. I expect him to do that. The problem is there is a very large number of people in the Mississippi State fan base that think he prefers to point out the negative. He can claim that isn’t the case all he wants. If it were an isolated few, I’d say he is right, but it has gone beyond that. If you think it hasn’t, this thread popped up on the Elite Dawgs discussion board not too long ago. There are a lot of people who think this way, and I don’t believe for a minute that a large portion of our fanbase is delusional about his reporting.

Do I expect him to change it? No, because he truly only has to answer to his editor at the Dispatch. I’d assume that if he is still there and hasn’t had the editor tell him to do anything differently, then nothing will change. I guess they are going to operate at the Dispatch from the standpoint of no such thing as bad publicity.

Why We Need Good Beat Writers

It’s very simple, they have the most access to the team, and are going to have the most news and information regarding the program. The bloggers like this site and FWtCT simply don’t have the time or money to cover it the way the Beat guys do. That is their job, and it is how they make a living. Most bloggers do this as a hobby. We also don’t make any claim at objectivity. That is needed when covering the program. Overall, I’d say we have pretty good beat writers. It’s obvious that I have issues with Stevens, but I only follow him for reasons like this. If he does things that I think are just antagonizing the fanbase, I think they need to be pointed out. Maybe you have a different opinion of the guys who cover Mississippi State. If you do, I’d love to hear them.