SBD/July 10, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Minding My Business With Browns Radio Daily Senior Editor Vic Carucci

Carucci thinks teams are just scratching the surface of digital media
After beginning his sports career in print journalism with stints at the Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post and Buffalo News, VIC CARUCCI was one of the first to make the jump to the Web when he was hired by NFL.com in ’99. Now Browns Radio Daily Senior Editor, Carucci feels he has adjusted well to the multimedia era. He recently discussed front office changes at the Browns, the next steps for digital sports media and his favorite way to relax.

Going from covering a league of 32 to one specific team…

This was the thing that really attracted me to the Browns. When you’re covering the game for NFL.com, you’re really taking kind of a 30,000-foot perspective. That’s fun and interesting, but it doesn’t connect you to the passion that a single fanbase has. When you’re embedded with a team, it’s an entirely different feeling of the passion of the fans. There’s a lot of tradition in Cleveland, and the job is unique because the setup puts you literally in the inner workings of the team and you’re surrounded by the coaching staff and the personnel staff and you’re all in it together.

On leeway from the organization to criticize the team...
It’s remarkable how little interference there is to doing the job. I have a pretty wide open license in that regard to talk about the team as I see it. I certainly try to be fair. I always have. And I think spending 12 years covering the NFL for the league’s website and network was great preparation. In all that time, I never ran in to any issues whatsoever of being told, “You’ve got to pull back on this” or “You’ve stepped in to something here that’s upset an owner or coach or whatever.” And I’m proud of the fact that I’ve not run into that in my time with Cleveland. If anything, there’s great support to be lively with the content, to give people what they want in terms of information and analysis in ways that they want to consume it because you’re competing with the mainstream outlets. The leadership of this team has a lot of savvy when it comes to understanding media business.

The next step for digital sports media…
Teams are still just scratching the surface of what they could do. I’ve seen just in the short time I’ve been with the Browns. One of the exciting things we’ve done is to have a live look-in on a minicamp with a webcam and analysis of that. We got tremendous response to that and it will open the door to much more during training camp. Where I see most of the team media platforms going, particularly the websites, is pulling back the curtain even further. The behind-the-scenes, exclusive access stuff. Fans expect that now, and fan expectations drive what we do. It seems like ancient history when I remember sitting in on an editorial meeting at a newspaper where you determine what the news of the day was and how it was going to be presented. That’s dead. Now you are responding and reacting and molding your coverage to fans' needs, wants and demands.

The best advice I have for up and coming sports journalists is…
Be true to who you are. Don’t try to imitate someone else even though you might admire their style as a writer or broadcaster, because not only will you not be that person, you won’t be yourself. You need to develop your own style.

One of my most memorable interview moments…
The funniest moment where I kind of blew up an interview was when I posed a question to DICK VERMEIL when he was with the Eagles. He started to break down and cry during the response. I felt kind of bad because everybody kind of turned around and said, “You pushed his buttons.” I can’t remember what the issue was, but it kind of brought the whole interview room to a standstill. So you don’t know sometimes what’s going to trigger a certain response. Vermeil is known for being very emotional as a coach it didn’t take much to get him to cry.

The first media I consume every day…
Twitter. It allows me to get a pretty good handle on what is trending. And the way my Twitter follows are set up, I’m pretty heavy with football and NFL-related Tweeters. Those kind of help shape what I know about the day in the morning. The other thing I like about Twitter is the links that I can follow to anything I need to read more extensively.

The technology that has most changed my work life…
The iPad because of its portability and ability to let me consume media while also being functional. There’s something about having it with me. It doesn’t take up much space in my binder and that gives me a sense of comfort. If I need to spring into action, I can pull out the iPad and get it done.

Favorite food joints in Cleveland…

Mike’s Bar & Grill right up the road from our HQs (in Berea) is great for lunch because I like the food and they play classic rock music. And if I’m looking for a good place for dinner downtown, you can’t beat Blue Point Grille. I’m a big seafood fan and it’s tremendous. My go-to-order is any kind of tuna steak.

When I need to relax I…
Ride a bike, and I don’t mean stationary bike. I get outside. Cleveland has an amazing system called the Lake to Lake Trail System. It has walking and biking trails that are just beyond belief. I would dare say it’s as good as any metropolitan area in the country. I haven’t covered all of the ground because I think there are hundreds of miles of trails. There’s one entry to it not far from where I live and I love to hop on my bike and just hit that and go.
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