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Breaking stories

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sirvaliantbrown, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. Whenever you all talk about high-level sports-beat reporting, you say things like "editors want reporters who will break stories." At the risk of being scolded, I must ask, perhaps naively: might story-breaking be an overrated thing - especially in this web-y era of ours?

    I'm in a super-competitive newspaper market, and I read closely, and it seems to me that no sports person in my super-competitive newspaper market has ever broken anything. Any real news comes from planned team announcements; everybody gets "team-in-discussions-to-acquire-Player X" stories at the same time - whenever the team decides to leak it to all of them; on the rare occasions when someone does learn something important the others don't know, it goes on the web, whereupon the others see it within four minutes and they all write a story for the next day's paper.

    Finally: just not that much consequential scoop-able stuff seems to happen to most not-scandal-ridden sports teams. While it seems nice to have a reporter enterprising enough to get the once-every-five-years "Superstar Being Traded Tomorrow" thing before everyone else, I'd think it would be better to have an entertaining and crisp gamer-writer, a super-knower of the game, and a generator of interesting features than the guy who'll get you that one big thing.

    On politics, cops, and other beats, I think scoopers are huge. In sports, I (increasingly) don't know.

    Anybody want to disabuse me of ridiculousness?
  2. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member

    I think you're right to some extent. But being good at breaking stories isn't always about just getting it into print (or on the Web) first. When everybody has a story on that big breaking news item, pay close attention to the details. Who got the most relevant sources to comment? Who provided information nobody else had?

    It's one thing to get the nut graf everybody else has (i.e. Player X is being traded) but it's another thing entirely to flesh out the details. The best reporters do both.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I've weighed in on this before with this: We broke a pretty big NBA story this week ... a local paper had it right around when we did, but among the national sites, we were far away in first.

    The "beat" lasted about a half hour. Was it a big deal in terms of making us money or gaining a big advantage on our competitors? No.

    Was it one of the fun parts of this business for the writer and for our site? And did higher-ups notice?


    It's important because it makes everybody involved in breaking the news feel good about the job they did that day.
  4. To me it's an indication that a writer has his beat wired for sound, and that pays off in many, many other ways throughout the year. So it's more of a symptom that great work is being done than anything else.
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