Social Studies: TNT's Ernie Johnson On Changes, Podcasts, Show Prep
"Inside The NBA" celebrates its 30th anniversary this season, and host Ernie Johnson (@TurnerSportsEJ) has seen a lot of change during those three decades, perhaps none more than the impact of social media. He said, "I think back to when I started. I was banging out my notes on an old IBM electric typewriter. The access you have to players through social media is totally different, and how a lot of them use it to get word out about themselves." He also noted the "availability of statistics has been a real landscape changer." Johnson is not one to get left behind. He and "Inside" co-host Charles Barkley host a podcast called "The Steam Room." Johnson: "I didn't know if I would enjoy it, if it would be a burden. Chuck and I sit down at 1:00 on a Thursday at another studio at Turner and do this podcast. It takes an hour for us to do it; they edit it and release it at 6:00 that night. It's been great. He and I just talk about anything we want to. Very rarely is it NBA." Johnson will be heading to Chicago to lead Turner Sports' NBA All-Star coverage, which begins Thursday.
Opinion of social media:
In comparison to my compatriot Charles Barkley, I would be a glowing supporter of social media. I've got my limits, too. I know Charles said he won't do social media. People are always saying, 'Come on, you have to get him on there.' I see value in it, and I see dangers in it. You have to be selective in how you use it and how all-in you go.
What he uses social media for:
I try to be really positive with it. I share a lot of stuff with my family and grandkids. I don't sit here and watch a bunch of games and tweet every time somebody goes down the court. I like to share what books I'm reading and if I've seen a good movie, if one of my kids or grandkids have done something, or if I've been in the backyard and watched an eastern bluebird have three babies in a birdhouse and I can shoot a video and send it. Or if I'm at the beach, I'll time-lapse a sunrise and put it on there. I love doing it that way. I love interacting with basketball fans. There are times when we'll start a conversation about what's going on in the league and I see value there.
Preparing for the show:
We use it on the show for fun and sometimes to share what's going on in the league. If (ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski) puts something out there that everybody is going to be talking about, we'll credit him and say, 'Hey, he's reporting this is happening,' or, 'Somebody is playing tonight or won't play tonight.' A lot of times, teams also take charge of that, and we'll put a team tweet up there. A lot of times, it's reaction to what we've done on the show. We'll be in the middle of the pregame show, and we'll come back out of a break, and I'll ask (Senior Producer Jeremy Levin) what we are doing in this segment. He'll say, 'We've got a couple of tweets.' I don't know what they are, and the other guys don't know what they are. We just react to them live. A lot of times, that's fun, because people will poke fun at what we're doing with the show and come up with some meme that gives us a laugh.
Integration of social media:
Just look over the past 10 years, and you can see certain producers who are reluctant, depending on the sport we're doing, to say, 'We're not going to put tweets on.' Like when we were doing golf -- and a lot of players were getting into it -- then you see maybe Ian Poulter showing what he's going to wear today. It might be fun on the air, but we might run into a producer who says we're not going to do that stuff. Now that so many athletes are involved in it, there are certainly times you say, 'This is fun. Let's put it on there.' You have to be careful, too. There was a Twitter beef between Kevin Durant and (Kendrick Perkins). We don't need to get involved in that.
Who in NBA does a good job on social:
I don't follow everybody. I follow LeBron, a lot of teams, the NBA, the NBA on TNT. Woj does a great job of getting out his news stories. It behooves you to follow him. Where I don't really like it is where people are trying to eviscerate other folks to show how funny they are and are actually mean-spirited. That's where I draw the line.
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