RR Interview Club: C. Trent Rosecrans (Part 2)

Cincinnati Enquirer (?)

Red Reporter's Cy Schourek exchanged e-mails with one of the hardest working men in Reds business to talk about how the sausage is made in reporting about the Reds.

If you missed Part One of this interview, you can read it over at this link. If you don't have interest in that for some reason, just know that I exchanged e-mails with C. Trent Rosecrans about the journalism biz, the Reds biz, and the relationship between the two. So here it goes:

CS: 8) CNati was a great, innovative, idea that in many ways came before its usefulness was fully understood (Justin interviewed you about it way back when). Any chance of it coming back under the Enquirer's fold, giving us the video and gifs and great writing/interviews and the like?

CTR: First of all, thanks. I say this only half-jokingly, but only if they want to buy it. I'm half owner of that business and name (and domain) and split owner of all the content. It's there. However, I want to try to bring some of that to Cincinnati.com without the banner of CNati (honestly, I'm not sure how much it would help them to use that domain or whatever, but who knows... make me an offer!).

I have bosses that encourage me to push the envelope, whether it's GIFs or video or different kinds of writing. I think the podcast/live show we've done at MOTR is a great example of that. That has been 100-percent pushed from those above me. They believe in it and what we're doing and those avenues at getting a wider audience.

I stand behind everything we did at CNati, we had some amazing talent. Paul Dehner Jr. has been helping at the Enquirer and is and amazing person and talent. He covered UC for us and was great. Scott Prisetle is now out of the business, but you won't find a better writer -- or more importantly person. There was an opening at our paper and I pushed Scott, and I will again every time it comes up. One of our photographers, Paul Armstrong, had his work featured on Yahoo! and it went viral this past year. He's an amazing talent.

Paul Armstrong and one of our other photographers, Chris Bergman, are now too big for a little ol' thing like CNati. They're the founders of ChoreMonster and they're blowing up. It was really cool having those guys on our team. They're really smart, talented guys and it made us better.

There's also Brian Baker, who is as amazing a person as you'll meet. He's a pediatric nurse, a former paramedic and an amazing photographer. He also has his own photography business now, LLacking Focus Photography, and I can't recommend him enough. Check out his work, and you'll see. Brian did all of the Reds photography for the site -- including amazing photos of Goodyear in the Reds' first year there and the 2010 Playoff Celebration photos that were our last feature on CNati -- and I can't think of a better way we could have gone out.

Of course, then there's my co-owner, one of the greatest people you will ever meet -- the guy who pushed me to do it, really the visionary and builder of the whole damn thing, Lee Heidel. Seriously, if you have any web needs, go to him. I look at what we did back then and it's still as good of a looking site as there is on the web. It was so ahead of its time. I think it holds up more than anything I've seen on the internet. And that's a credit to Lee's vision and skills. He did everything, including the app. We had that spring training app before others were doing apps. It was amazing. I can't say enough about Lee, really.

Sorry to go on so long, but I had so much pride in what we did. It wasn't anywhere near a success business-wise, and I learned I am not cut out to run a business, but I will stand behind the product 100 percent. It was amazing, and that's only because I have some amazing friends.


CS: 9) What's the relationship between the Sports section of the Enquirer and the rest of the paper?

CTR: It's not like it used to be. Once upon a time, the sports section was the "toy department," looked down upon and all that. Not today. Because of the web, because of those metrics, our editors know sports bring eyeballs. The people who read our paper -- both online and in print -- read the sports section and take it seriously. Heck, I got the front of a Sunday section for my Chad Jones feature [see Part One]. Doc got an entire section for a feature he did on a former Bengal [ed. note: nope not gonna link]. Also look at the marketing they've done for the C. Dot Show and Beyond the Stripes. What they've done with BtS is incredible, by the way. That's the vision of many people, starting with executive editor Carolyn Washburn, Laura Trujillo, Angel Rodriguez, Nick Hurm, Glenn Hartong, Michael McCarter, Dehner, Reedy -- I could go on and on. I can't tell you how impressed I've been with the direction, desire and hard work that goes on at the Enquirer since I've joined.

CS: 10) If a Red or someone in the Reds front office gets in trouble, lets say is implicated in an international organ harvesting ring, what happens? What's you're role in covering that?

CTR: I'm part of a team. Look at all the people I named above -- they'd all be a part of it and that's just the start. There would be a lot of people looking at all the ways we could best cover the story, advance it and move on. Look at what the Enquirer did with the heroin epidemic in Kentucky this year. If the resources are needed and warranted, Carolyn won't stop. It's a credit to her. The results are in the paper; you look at how the state of Kentucky is responding to our reporting in that instance. It's really impressive.

I know I sound like a company man, but I've been so impressed with what goes on at that paper. You have a staff that truly cares and wants to put out the best product, not just today and tomorrow, but down the line. I couldn't be more proud to be a tiny piece of that team, even if I'm the Cesar Izturis or Nick Christiani of that team. I'm still part of the team. And like I learned from a childhood friend who was a member of the 2004 Red Sox for all of two games, you still get the ring.


CS: 11) What's the relationship between the Reds media team and people like you and Fay?

CTR: I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I have the utmost respect for Rob Butcher, Larry Herms, Jamie Ramsey and Michael Anderson. And then there's Lisa Braun, who was actually my boss at Clear Channel, so I know her on both sides, and amazingly she's the same person. I'd hire her in a heartbeat. But everyone there is open and understanding.

That doesn't mean we always agree, but it does mean that we are heard. There's a reason why they do things, and we may not always agree, but we have a great professional relationship. I can't say enough about that staff. Watch any World Series -- or other big event put on by Major League Baseball -- and you'll be sure to see Rob Butcher there. And there's a reason.

CS: 12) What will covering the Reds look like at the end of Votto's contract?

CTR: I have zero idea. I hope I'm still on it, though. He may be a DH for the Reds by then.

CS: 13) How do you feel about the celebrity status that you and Mr. Fay have? Does it make your job easier or harder? How does it change your job when people aren't discussing what you write, but are rather discussing you?

CTR: It's strange. And it's certainly nothing I've ever really wanted or desired. It is a boost to the ego, and maybe I'm getting to be a jerk about it, but I never want to be. I can't see that happening with John, who is ego-less as anyone I know. Honestly, on the list of people you should want to have a beer with, John Fay is up there.

But yeah, it can be tough. I can't tell you how many times people assume I have an "agenda" because of things they've heard or whatever public impression is out there. I'm not going to say I'm unbiased, because I think we all have our biases, whether we want to acknowledge them or not, that influence how we think and act, but I do try my very best to be fair. That's my goal so very often, fair.

Personal brands are huge in the media and are only growing. You see it with FiveThirtyEight. It's also why I still own the domain for cnati (I've been trying to get ctrent.com for years, since 2000-ish when I started my first blog, but it's been held by others. At one time it was a rental agency in Connecticut (get it, CT rent?), but I think it's now squatters).

But I got @ctrent early on twitter. And the C. has certainly helped me branding myself. It stands out. People call me "C. Trent" all the time. But the vast majority of my friends call me "Trent." I've always been "Trent." (An exception, is an old friend from my days at the Athens Banner-Herald, Jonathan McGinty, he's always called me "C. Trent," but does it in a way that always makes me happy. Great guy.)

I think one misconception is that we as writers want attention and to "get noticed." I'm sure that's the case for some people out there, but I can only speak for myself, when I was the topic of national discussion, it was the last thing I wanted.

Quick story on that: when the whole Brandon Phillips thing went down, my wife was on her break room at work and someone was talking to her about it, and then someone comes in and says, "Are you guys talking about the Brandon Phillips thing? I mean, who cares what he says to some stupid reporter..." My wife answer, "I care, since it's my husband." It still cracks me up, because, it's not like my last name is Smith.

But hey, that's part of the job now. I'm a public figure. I can take it. It's fine. It only crosses the line when people go after my family, as one local radio person did. That I think crosses the line, and why you won't hear me on Clear Channel stations. That person not only stepped over the line, but pole vaulted over it.

...and ending with a couple lighter questions

CS: 14) I don't live in Cinti, and I can only come back at strange times to catch games. When I go, what bars should I go to? What music venues have the best programs?

CTR: MOTR Pub, of course! And, actually, I would have said that before our show there too (great burger and I hear raves about their brunch). I'd also recommend the Comet, Northside Tavern and Mayday, but those are all in my neck of the woods. There's a ton of places opening up. It's cool to see this city really grow since I've been here (2004).

CS: 15) What are your offseason plans? Were you enjoying yourself on a private Caribbean island when you all-of-the-sudden realized you had to cover the Latos or Choo trades? If so, can we start a fundraiser to send you back there?

CTR: Ha! As I write this, John Fay is on his way to Aruba. I did some Bengals stuff, do what I can around the house (which isn't much), there's Winter Meetings (which I went to, John stayed home), trade talk and all that. I wish I could claim this, but I can't, I stole it from Marc Carig of Newsday (one of my favorite beat guys in baseball), he has it on his Twitter profile now (@MarcCarig), a play on the famous Rogers Hornsby quote, "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I still write about baseball." It's perfect. That's the way the business is now -- and it's the same for all sports coverage, baseball just seems longer because it's my world. (But at least there's no combine.)

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