Journalists from across nation, world descend on Superdome
The scene inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Tuesday might just have been the definition of a three-ring circus.
Many of the country’s top sports journalists interviewed the country’s top football players days before Super Bowl XLVII. Other reporters — some who wore unique costumes — sought out their media counterparts or the athletes to get answers to questions that had nothing to do with the game. Hundreds of people paid for the opportunity to sit in the stands to cheer on the journalism that took place on the Dome’s field.
That organized mayhem was Super Bowl Media Day 2013.
Officials have said more than 5,000 journalists from across the globe eventually will be in town for the game. While many are here from expected outlets, such as ESPN and CBS, to chronicle the showdown between the 49ers and Ravens, others from networks far removed from football, such as Nickelodeon, plan to cover myriad topics that include everything from Super Bowl-related entertainment to New Orleans’ post-Katrina recovery.
The latter is partly what the Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes will report on.
The anchor of the network’s “Morning Rush” program said the ability for the city to once again host a Super Bowl shows the efforts that have gone into the rebuilding process.
“The city’s doing well,” Bettes said. “The vibe is that people have put it (Katrina) behind them. It’s part of their history, but they don’t want it to be part of their future.”
Daisuke Nakai, who writes for The Asahi Shimbum, a Japanese newspaper, said a colleague will cover the game for his paper.
Nakai, whose last visit to the city was two months after Hurricane Katrina, came to New Orleans to cover cultural issues and will head out of town before kickoff.
Nakai said he is most interested in topics surrounding the sport and the league, such as the Saints bounty scandal and the lawsuit against the NFL involving injured former players. The progress the city has made since his last visit was also on the list of Nakai’s planned coverage.
Nakai noted that while the football scene in Japan is relatively small, there is interest in the Super Bowl in his country.
Perhaps not surprisingly, American football has begun to gain an international audience. The Super Bowl is available to about 1 billion people in more than 200 countries, according to the NFL.
A good number of those fans live in Austria, according to Phillip Hajszan, an on-air personality for the network PULS 4. Hajszan, who did his interviews in lederhosen, said his some of his viewers are rabid American football fans and demand the coverage. Still, his goal during his 10-day stay is to mix up his coverage and report on “as much as possible.”
“It’s not just the game,” he said.
For many, the Super Bowl has become more than just four quarters of ball played on turf.
Players are celebrities, and the dozens of entertainment options that will be available here during the coming days attract journalists from that genre as well.
Katherine Webb, Miss Alabama USA 2012, was among the crowd of reporters who filled the Superdome field Tuesday.
Webb’s profile has risen meteorically in the past few weeks since the beauty queen and girlfriend of University of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron received several minutes of airtime during the BCS National Championship game as she watched McCarron play.
Webb is covering the Super Bowl for “Inside Edition.” She made her journalistic debut during media day and seemed to answer more questions from other reporters than she asked of players. She said her assignments will focus on the fan base in town and the halftime show, rather than the X’s and O’s of the game.
Comedian Mo Rocca, who contributes to CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” and NPR’s “Wait, Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” said he was searching for the “lighter side” of the match.
By day’s end, he found several features, including stories on one player who is a yoga instructor and another who runs his own interior design company. Those pieces will run on CBS’ “This Morning” he said.
Watching the activity on the field was Houston resident Karen Vine Fuller.
Fuller and her two sons, Thomas, 10, and Spenser, 11, are diehard football fans and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch the members of the press do their jobs and to catch a glimpse of this year’s gridiron kings. In fact, the boys missed school to attend media day, she said.
“It’s amazing. It’s a really great opportunity,” said Fuller, who wore an inflatable field goal on her head and Houston Texan beads around her neck. “You can’t afford to go to the Super Bowl, but you can afford media day.”
“Can we go again next year?” asked Thomas, who wore a Green Bay Packers jersey.
No problem, Mom said. The family found a new annual tradition.
Kari Dequine Harden
contributed to this report.