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Are Sunday notes columns/packages now better served as newspaper blog entries?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by hockeybeat, Mar 8, 2007.

  1. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    This is a spinoff of the "Ron Borges - Plagiarist?" thread. I thought I read somewhere in that thread that Sunday notes packages and/or columns have outlived their usefulness. Generally, I disagree with that line of thinking, but aren't those packages better served to be newspaper blog entries now?

    Obviously newspaper space is at a premium. Why not use the space reserved for the notes for more enterprise and takeouts?
  2. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I don't know the answer to this. As much as we say "people will get stuff online," or "they already know all about it," ... I still think there's a section of the readership that enjoys an enterprising notes package on a Sunday. Not everyone watches ESPN non-stop or knows everything. You have to write for the diehards and the not-so-diehards.
  3. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    people 40 and older make up the majority of newspaper readers. they don't check out "blogs." heck, they don't even know what a blog is. the sunday notes columns still serve a huge purpose. sure, they'll be obsolete some day. just not yet.
  4. As a young online writer, even I can say that I don't read blogs very often. Sunday notes columns are very entertaining and informative. If they are done well, they have lots of info in them that the average fan doesn't already know unless they watched ESPN 4 hours for the past week.
  5. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    It's kind of off topic, kind of not, since we're obviously all online, but we rarely do notebooks anymore. Those are mostly handled in blogs, and it's daily instead of saving up for huge notebooks once a week or whatever.
  6. tommyp

    tommyp Member

    With four major newspapers in my area, I enjoy having the Sunday notes columns/packages to see how the reporters compete with one another. Who covers the same topics, and who writes the story better? Who reveals different information?

    I've noticed the blogs on the sites are leaning toward more gossipy stuff. And it's rare to find the columnist/beat reporter that interacts with readers.
  7. tommyp

    tommyp Member

    One point I forgot to mention: Blogs here are also used for late-breaking news prior to game time, which is a good use of the medium.
  8. my problem isn't with the notion of sunday notes columns, it's the way they're written. they all read the same. with a few exceptions, you see all the same items in nearly every paper. the same quotes, the same rumors, the same stats. it's brutal.

    I've always hated this sort of national network laziness. it's a waste of space and the ultimate in journalistic arrogance. you have these national writers with little else to do, and they can't even make a phone call to get something different? this whole freaking industry has become so reliant on networks, conference calls, transcripts, press releases, etc., that few people doing this stuff are actually working the phones and getting fresh, interesting material.

    the NFL writer at the metro in my market is so lazy the lead item in his weekly NFL notes piece is often something that appeared in his own paper in an AP story earlier in the week or something easily recognizable from a transcript off nflmedia.com or a team web site. why bother?

    I did an NFL notes column for a few years a while back and had no trouble getting ahold of a player or assistant coach every week for my lead item. I would send emails out to PR guys late Sunday night after figuring out what I wanted to lead with and maybe 80 percent of the time there was no trouble setting up phoners on Tuesday or Wednesday. now, I wasn't getting Brett Favre or Barry Sanders, but you'd be surprised how much is possible if you actually roll up your sleeves and work.

    I don't think Sunday notes packages have outlived their usefulness, but in an era where everybody is reading stuff from everywhere, I really believe that the way they're put together must change
  9. taz

    taz Member

    ie., is there really a need for a staff-written baseball notes column, or can we just take it from the wires? And, instead of a six-column display, can we trim it back to three?

    You're saving space for good local content, plus you're freeing up a staff position. IMO, as staffs look to streamline, save space, and dedicate more resources to their online product, the notion of a "national (fill in the sport) beat writer" should be the first to go.
  10. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Re: Are Sunday notes columns/packages now better served as newspaper blog entrie

    Disagree with you. Sometimes there's angles - be it a unique local angle, or a different perspective to an issue or news item - that you can't get from the national columnists. For instance there's one paper in NJ where the Sunday baseball columnist isn't a beat writer, but a copy editor in his 50s who is a life-long baseball fan, serves as the pitching coach at one of the major colleges in the state, and is the head coach of the best American Legion team in the county. His baseball knowledge can brings unique perspectives to his columns that you don't get from the national columnists.
    How does it free up a staff position? If you're in a MLB market, its typically your beat writer doing the Sunday notes column. If you're not in a MLB market its another staff writer (be it the college guy, another pro sports beat guy, or a desker) doing the Sunday notes column. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single paper where doing the Sunday notes column is that writer's only job at the paper (unless I'm too tired to think straight). If you want to say switching to a national column will free up that writer's hours to do other things fine. But don't say it frees up a staff position as it is likely in this age of newsroom cutbacks that the paper wouldn't fill the staff position if it opened, they would just get by with one fewer person in the newsroom.
  11. I just posted this on the Borges thread, but it might be better here. My apologies for plagiarizing myself:

    I don't want to keep dragging this thing around in circles, but part of the problem with these notes packages, in general, is that they've been expected to be so damn big and all-encompassing. Some newspapers I've worked at have had full pages devoted to notes columns. That's not an insignificant part this issue.

    I was lucky that my first notes column was expected to be only about 30 inches. I could do the reporting for a lot of it on my own, making calls here and there, listening to my league's conference calls, getting in on other calls, rummaging through packs of statistics for interesting notes, etc. I was usually given two days to do it -- a luxury, I know. I wasn't a part of a network, but I don't think I would have had any problem becoming part of one had I needed to fill more space.

    I don't think it's a bad idea to do notes columns, but I think sports editors have to take the stance that their reporters should do them on their own and be given as much time to do them as they would any other story. That's going to be a difficult bridge to cross. But it's absurd to expect someone to throw together an 80-inch Sunday notebook on a Friday. Mr. Borges might have been lazy to cut-and-paste the Seahawks information, but he probably had to throw it together, too. Besides, it's not even reporting -- it's clerking.
  12. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    A notes column should be more than just a compilation of the news of the week. It should offer insight on that news, how it impacts the teams. Which free agents moves were the best and which were the worst. A mid-season all-star team, mid-season awards column. A notes column that is all news from the week where it was a cut & paste job into the column and no insight is just a bad column.
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