Thursday, March 15, 2018 - The media award is presented by Matt Van Tuinen, BNP Paribas Open Media Director (far left) and Tommy Haas, BNP Paribas Open Tournament Director (far right) to Mark J Terrill and Beth Harris of the Associated Press during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Matthew Thomas/BNP Paribas Open)
For seasoned journalists and photographers, years of traveling to sporting events can sometimes blur together. Countless cities, travel, press rooms and athletes can become routine. Same drill, different event.
But for The Associated Press’ Beth Harris and Mark Terrill – both industry veterans of the global media organization – there is one event that is circled on the calendar each and every year: the BNP Paribas Open.
Harris and Terrill, who have combined for more than 25 years of covering the tournament in Indian Wells, have been selected to receive the 2018 BNP Paribas Open Bud Collins Media Award on behalf of The Associated Press. This award annually recognizes a media member or outlet that has been integral in covering, promoting and supporting the tournament for a number of years. The Associated Press continues to be recognized as the gold standard for news coverage around the world, and the award reflects the organization’s commitment to the coverage of the BNP Paribas Open over the past several decades.
“The Associated Press has been around for over 170 years,” said Terrill, an award-winning photojournalist who has covered the event since 1989 when it was held at the Hyatt Grand Champions. “We cover anything that we consider big news. And there’s no question this tournament is big news.”
Though both Harris and Terrill bring up the tournament’s many bright spots – the incredible weather and atmosphere; the top-notch food; the world-class amenities and facilities – they both point even more importantly to the spirit of camaraderie present amongst the media, players, patrons and tournament staff.
“We are very well taken care of – and that’s always been the case, but its only gotten better and better every year for us to work there,” Terrill says.
Similarly, Harris points to the unique atmosphere fostered at the event that allows players to feel more at home in a casual and friendly environment.
“You get a different view of the athletes,” she says. “You see them not in their public face, but more who they are as people. To me, that’s is a really unique part of the tournament and covering the event.”
For both media members, the BNP Paribas Open is the sole tennis event on a yearly calendar packed with high-profile national and international sporting events. Both based out of Los Angeles, Harris and Terrill used to cover other WTA and ATP events in Southern California, but over the years the events disappeared one by one, leaving an annual two-week assignment in the Coachella Valley desert a welcome bright spot.
While today the press center at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is one of the premier newsrooms in sports, Terrill recalls the event’s more humble beginnings and how media coverage has changed so significantly over the years.
“I used to have to set up a darkroom in my hotel,” Terrill recalled with a laugh. “My bathroom looked like a murder scene. You’d hand process film, and by the time all is said and done, you get maybe one or two pictures out at the end of the night. Now, we do hundreds of images every day.”
For Harris too – whose relationship with tennis goes back to her childhood in Chicago idolizing the likes of Chris Evert and Tracy Austin – the times have changed.
“It’s all about filing quickly, and then continually updating and building the story throughout the day and night,” she says of the AP’s in-tournament coverage. “It’s really about being clued into what’s the best story of the day, and being flexible.”
For nearly a decade, Harris and Terrill have been mainstays in the BNP Paribas Open media room – a true testament to the AP’s commitment to quality, in-depth, globally relevant coverage of one of tennis’ biggest events year in and year out. For the first time ever in 2018, the Bud Collins Media Award is being given to an outlet instead of an individual, and there is no more deserving recipient than The Associated Press.
“It’s a real honor,” Harris said. “We’ve watched some wonderful people receive this award in past years, including Bud Collins. We recognize with so much media consolidation happening these days, our role takes on even more importance because people are relying on us to provide the coverage that they can no longer afford to because of budgets and staffing restraints. We take that very seriously, and strive to provide excellent coverage throughout the event. It truly takes a team around the world to provide the kind of coverage we do.”