On Twitter: Follow @aandro as he covers the World Series for Fox Sports Southwest
Inside baseball: Andro ’92 tweets himself
into the spotlight covering Texas Rangers
Strong beat reporting, smart use of social media
garner national attention for Texas A&M graduate
Special to the Aggie Journalists blog
Texas A&M journalism graduate Anthony Andro ’92 made a name for himself during the Texas Rangers ownership auction in August 2010. He wrote about it for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and discovered a rapt audience on Twitter. And a future employer, FoxSportsSouthwest.com, was also following him.
“I went into the courtroom that morning with my cell phone and my laptop and started tweeting everything that was happening in the auction,” Andro says. “I picked up 4,000 followers that day because I was giving everybody stuff that no one had access to.
"I was the number one trending Twitter topic in the nation that day.”
Andro was in the hallway talking with Nolan Ryan, a member of the Chuck Greenberg group hoping to own the Rangers, when the news walked right past him, literally. “The Jim Crane group came by; he just walked by Nolan, and Jim Crane said ‘Congratulations. We’re done.’ Nolan looked at me, I looked at Nolan, and I thought, ‘What the heck?’ So I tweeted that Jim Crane says we’re done.” People in the courtroom got the news from Andro’s Twitter post, and Chuck Greenberg’s financial advisor said, “Anthony says we won it.”
Andro started covering sports for his Plano East High School paper, Panther Prints.
He also wrote for the Plano Star-Courier while in high school. “I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ so I decided to go to A&M and be a journalism major,” he says. While at Texas A&M, he was on the Battalion’s sports staff and covered everything from football to cross-country meets to baseball and basketball. “We covered it all.”
Andro says his favorite professor in the Journalism Department was Dr. Douglas Starr.
“He’s such a laid-back guy, such a good guy,” Andro says. “He cared about us more than anyone else.” That caring aspect took on special significance when Andro’s father and stepfather both died while he was in school. “I was gone from school a week each time.
I came back and Dr. Starr said, ‘Anthony, what are you doing here? Just go home, don’t worry about it. Just take care of things, and you come back when you’re ready.’ You don’t find that at a lot of places or with a lot of people.”
After graduation, Andro got a job at the Port Arthur News covering sports. He also worked the desk and “did it all.” That’s where he met his wife, who’s a Longhorn. Yes, they have a house divided.
In 1999, Andro moved to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to cover high school sports.
A few years later, they added motor sports and college sports to his beat, and he was doing less high school coverage. In 2007 he began to exclusively report on the Texas Rangers. After the paper downsized in 2008, he covered the Rangers and motor racing.
When the Rangers won the American League pennant last year, Andro shot about 50 seconds of video of the ginger ale celebration given to Josh Hamilton by his teammates. (Hamilton has battled drug and alcohol addiction.) That video was picked up by Yahoo! and MSNBC, and the Star-Telegram had lots of video views on its website.
The Rangers auction experience showed him how much you could do with social media. “I think you have to realize what people want to see in this job, because you have access that no one else does,” he says. “If you can provide it for them in different formats, you have to be able to do that.”
Andro’s Rangers ownership coverage got him noticed, and this July, he started working at Fox Sports Southwest.com covering the Rangers. “Fox has a huge agreement with the Rangers, and they wanted to beef up their Rangers coverage to go along with everything they do on the TV side,” he said.
But working for Fox doesn’t just mean writing content for the web. “I’ve never done TV, and they said, ‘All right, you’re going on TV,’” he says. After regular season home games, he does a segment about what Ranger fans are talking about on Twitter, answers a few questions and then goes down to the clubhouse to write his story.
During the playoffs, Andro was on the online pre-game show and the post-game show on Fox Sports Southwest, all live. “For games three, four and five, I was in the studio while the Rangers were in Detroit, and we did hour-long post-game shows,” he says. “That’s a completely new world for me. I know how to conjugate verbs correctly, but I don’t know anything about this. So it’s definitely been an adjustment.”
For the World Series, Andro is doing the online pre-game show and the one-hour post-game show on Fox Sports Southwest. He talks about what was going on during the game, “the highlights and lowlights.”
Andro made his TV debut during the Big 12 Media Days this year. He says, “I went from Big 12 Media Days to the ballpark to do my regular stuff; then after that they stick a mike in your hand and say, ‘Look at the camera and smile,’ and you’re on. That was my television training.”
Since he’s been on TV, Andro has learned some tricks of the trade. “Now I own rice paper to take the shine off my forehead, and I have a little bit of powder,” he says. “It rips at your heart, the things you say you’ll never do, and then here you are doing them. You kind of walk a little sheepishly now.”
He even tweeted about the rice paper and powder after the Rangers’ general manager, Jon Daniels, walked into the bathroom and saw Andro blotting his forehead. “I reached an all-time new low,” he says.
After baseball is over, Andro will cover some college football games and then the NASCAR race at Texas World Speedway in November. “I still have a lot of ties with the racing people, so every time they’re in town, I still go out and do that kind of stuff.”
Andro’s progression from print journalist to versatile multimedia reporter mirrors the changes in journalism since students of the ’80s and ’90s graduated. The one-story-per-day print model is history, replaced by multiple stories each day, updates for online editions and use of other media formats.
“You have to stay in front of what’s new in social media,” Andro says. “You have to be versatile enough to write, to tweet, to use a flip-cam, your cell phone and your tape recorder. The writing style has changed so much because you have to get your point across in less time and a lot less space.” He also says that in online reporting, there is no such thing as an inch count.
Andro recalls his boss at the Star-Telegram talking to staff a few years ago about moving toward “alternative storytelling.” He says, “I jumped on it because for one thing, it’s a lot quicker and it’s more opinionated. It doesn’t have to be lead, paragraph, quote, setup, quote, setup, quote. You can’t do that anymore. You have to be able to reach people in different ways.”
For example, Andro writes stories about the Rangers that are more opinion than fact-driven. “I’ll write a position-by-position breakdown for the World Series that won’t have a quote in it,” he says. “It’ll be my opinion on who’s better at every position.”
In place of a traditional copy editor, Andro’s stories go through four channels before they are posted online, including reviews in Houston and Los Angeles. So stories are not immediately available online. “I’ve been called on two stories from L.A. people, so I know it does get read over,” he says, “and that makes me feel good because when you’re writing in a hurry, everybody makes mistakes.”
When it comes to the future of newspapers, Andro is pessimistic. “I still get the Star-Telegram every day and it shrinks every day,” he says. “It’s sad — you want to think that newspapers will be around forever, but the way they keep shedding jobs, it’s hard to imagine how much longer it can last.”
Andro says one thing that won’t change in journalism is “you have to be able to write. It comes down to basic grammar, basic journalism stuff. I think that’s the most important thing. But you have to be versatile.”
And never underestimate the power of Twitter. “When my followers ask me a question, I’ll answer it,” he says. “I think that’s important because they connect with you and you bring that audience with you wherever you go. Every time I write a story, I’ll tweet the link to the story and that drives traffic to our website, which is the number one goal.” Andro has over 8,000 Twitter followers.
So what’s the best part of Andro’s job at FoxSportsSouthwest.com? “I get to watch baseball for a living,” he says.
About the author:
Ruth Wedergren '85 is a public media professional with 25 years of experience in programming, operations and educational outreach in public television and radio. View her resume at linkedin.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org