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BFTB Interview: SDUT's Kevin Acee

Give us a little background on yourself.  How did you end up in San Diego, covering the Chargers?
I grew up here, left for college and then spent five years in Los Angeles. I covered the Dodgers and then the Angels and then came home 10 years ago to write sports features for the U-T. After a while, I missed being on a beat, and SDSU football became available. I covered two of Tom Craft's seasons and then took over the Chargers beat when Jim Trotter (the best there ever was) wanted out after the '04 season.

How did you end up blogging and Tweeting for the Union Tribune?
It was a necessary transition. I think we all know the struggles and challenges of the newspaper business. My kids don't read the paper. (I don't even think my friend Jenny Cavnar, who just turned 27, reads the paper. I mean, she reads every word I write, but she reads it on SignOn.) Whatever info my kids are getting, they're getting on the Internet.

As someone who works for a newspaper, but maintains a blog, a Twitter account and produces daily video updates on the Chargers, where do you come down on the Old Media vs. New Media debate?
I don't think there is a debate. Not for me anyway. I've embraced the new media. Had to. I decided a couple years ago that I needed to diversify -- for my sake as well as for the paper's. Y'know, 15 years ago, the U-T had virtually no competition in San Diego. We're still the dominant news source. But we have to keep changing. And, frankly, we need to do it better and faster. That's why I do my segments on Channel 4 and XX, and why I spend a huge portion of my time on the Internet stuff (blogs, mailbag, videos, Twitter). It's a real challenge sometimes to balance the interests of the paper and SignOn, but it's absolutely a requirement. My responsibilities as Chargers beat writer only slightly resemble what Trotter's job was, or even what my job was three years ago. Heck, two years ago. Every year, more is required, and every year I try to do it all a little better.

Do you think independent sports blogs are a good thing (providing a voice for the fans, creating a new environment for discussion, etc.) or a bad thing (not necessarily adhering to the unwritten rules of journalism, less accountability, etc.)?
Well, I'd be lying I didn't say that everyone and their brother having a voice bugs me sometimes. But make no mistake: I think independent blogs are GREAT. I also think forums have their place. The passion fans have sort of keeps me in business, right? I do really hope people understand the difference between what I do and what a blogger (or forum participant) do. I have to adhere to a certain set of rules and remain factual. It makes me laugh sometimes when people refer to something I write as "a rumor" or they question my sources. I could be fired for doing something unethical.

Do you think NFL players should be allowed to have Twitter accounts and put whatever they want on it?
Absolutely. I do worry some of them won't understand the ramifications of something they might write until it's too late. Haven't we all sent an e-mail or text we wish we hadn't? Well, Twitter is a text to (potentially) the entire world. I also understand why teams (coaches) are scared of Twitter.

Hypothetical Situation: Instead of saying it on Twitter, Antonio Cromartie voices to you his displeasure over the food the team provides.  He even says "You can print that."  What do you do?  Who do you talk to about it?  If you print it, do you think he gets fined and do you think other NFL players talk about it?
Funny you ask. Last year, I quoted Nick Hardwick saying the food stunk. He didn't get fined. In fact, they upgraded. If he had been fined, yes, players would have talked about it -- though probably not as much as they did with Cro. His situation was the perfect storm of the NFL being all jumpy about twitter and his being made an example.

Lightning Round (predictions):

Gartrell Johnson - over/under 80 carries in 2009? Not a chance.
Vincent Jackson - A Charger in 2010? Yes.
Jeromey Clary - Chargers starting RT in 2010? Yes.
Rod Chudzinski - Does he take over play-calling and/or offensive game-planning in 2009? No way.


Do you have any thoughts about Bolts From The Blue?  Any tips you want to send our way?  Whenever you have something to say, don't hesitate to e-mail me directly.