Last year, Howard Megdal paid for his own train ticket to Washington, D.C. to cover the most important U.S. women’s basketball event of the season: the WNBA “clincher” game of the Seattle Storm against the runner-up Washington Mystics. This final game was widely publicized on television, having its highest rating on ESPN2 since 2010 (Source: USA Today).
“Women play in the [WNBA] league to win these championships,” Megdal said. “Teams play their very best at the end of the season and have everything on the line.”
Megdal is the editor, founder and basketball reporter of Civil newsroom The IX (pronounced “The Nine”). Named after the 1972 landmark U.S. law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any federally regulated program, The IX publishes a newsletter five days a week that covers a wide range of women’s sports. Readers of The IX include a mix of key people in the women’s industry — players, coaches, General Managers, and owners — along with editors from major publications looking for stories. Their open rate hovers around 50% for each newsletter.
Megdal has made his living over the past 15 years as a freelance women’s sports reporter for a number of publications. In the past year alone, his reporting on women’s sports has been published in Forbes, the New York Times and Washington Post. He also runs a publication called High Post Hoops, which is devoted to women’s basketball.
“High Post Hoops is a complementary experience to The IX,” he said. “It covers women’s basketball every single day. I view it as a way for me to mentor young people in our industry and create a pipeline for women (and women of color in particular) to train them for what is coming. The IX then connects networks [like High Post Hoop’s] across sports.”
Megdal says news organizations are increasingly willing to cover women’s sports, but there’s still an unwillingness to pay for reporter’s travel expenses. For years, he says, it has cost reporters thousands of dollars of their own money to pay for expenses at women’s sporting events. That’s why, earlier this month, Megdal launched a Civil Boost to help him travel to the 2019 WNBA Finals in October.
“We need to make sure that reporters are on the ground,” he said. “To maximize what the reader is getting out of the experience, [we need to] make sure that these signature events are properly captured.”
Megdal and The IX need $2,500 to provide full coverage of and travel to the 5-day event and his reporting will include a daily recap, podcasts, social media and updates in The IX newsletter. He’ll also be taking questions from readers about the games throughout the event to make them feel like they’re at the game.
“You will feel like you’re at the WNBA Finals in real-time,” Megdal said of his planned reporting. “You’ll be experiencing it as if you are inside the locker room or as if you were courtside.”
Results for the WNBA Finals will be released at the beginning of October, which means that the Boost will end on September 30. The money Megdal raises in this Boost will allow him to travel to whatever U.S. location that the final teams will play in.
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