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'Bumped up from preps'

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by slappy4428, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Mods, you know I love ya. And this is not a shot at you; You just happen to be the one who said it in this case on the jobs board. Anyone could have stepped on the landmine.

    But question: Why does it always have to be "bumped up from preps"?

    In many cases, preps is a stronger beat or what the reporter wants. I understand that at most papers, preps can go to the youngest guy, the least experienced or (in one case I can think of anyway), the guy whose screwed up everyplace else and its the last chance.

    But not always. I can think of several papers where the prep guy has been in his beat for years, loves the job, has more respect and stability than the "more important" beats and has made the beat his own. I can name several papers where the prep guy has turned down "bigger beats" because they love what they do. If the prep writer wasn't good at their craft, many papers wouldn't devote the one day a week to extra space for a Preps Plus/Extra/Bonus coverage in addition to the coverage during the week; certainly, they wouldn't be able to pull it off.

    Why the stigma that preps is the low end of the food chain?
  2. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    I hear what you're saying. I can think of several people I know/have grown up reading who are life long prep guys who are quite happy where they are...

    I think the stigma comes from the fact that in MOST cases, preps is the launching point on the career path. I'm sure there are always exceptions to every rule, but I'd venture to guess that a large majority of big time beat writers spent at least some time doing preps at the very beginning of their careers.
    Certainly, there will always be guys who are happy with preps and stay on that beat forever, but in many cases there is a natural progression up the ladder to bigger beats and that first rung is usually preps.
  3. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    It's "bumped up from preps" because many reoprters hate the beat and take it out of necessity when they're getting started. It's not that the beat itself is bullshit; it's just that lots of people don't want it and would prefer covering college or pros.
  4. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    I think because there is so much bullshit attached to covering preps -- taking calls, collecting rosters, checking names, bitchy parents, etc. -- that we tend to forget that covering it can be a joy.

    I always enjoyed writing preps.
  5. Another advantage, if you have family, is little or no traveling. And as you said, a lot of times you're "the man". Plus, you almost always have Sundays off. No coaches next day breakfast or follow up due Sunday night.

    I think a lot has to do with perception.

    So what do you do?



    As opposed to...

    So what do you do?

    Cover the (local pro team).

  6. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I mean, I've covered my colleges, large and small. And yeah, there was a little swagger that I got to cover a "major beat."

    But down the road, I've realized my best (and hardest) work, my best clips and most satisfaction came not from -- for example -- covering people like Ian Gold at Michigan, but people like Ian Gold in high school.

    You get more readers (although each has their niche), you get controversy, you get championships.

    Maybe it's cause there's no free swag, little food (outside of football) and if you took pictures of the girls you'd get locked up for kiddie porn.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Don't worry, slappy. Should the need arise, sports editors can also make the case that all reporting jobs are equal, pay grades are the same, etc., etc.

    Just depends on the audience.
  8. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Because preps, as impolitic as this sounds, IS the low end of the chain. At the higher-level beats, you're likely to get feedback from people with share no bloodlines to the people you cover, meaning that you have a larger percentage of average Joes/Jennys reading your stuff. Prep stuff, except for football and sometimes basketball, rarely gets noticed by anyone not related to the topic of the story. In this era of low pay and low internal support, it's important that you feel like the stuff you're slaving over is important.

    There are talented writers and reporters out there that choose to be high school writers, and I say excelsior to them. But they're anomalies for the most part. If you're a high school writer in 95 cases out of 99, it's because a) you're not high up enough the food chain to earn a more prominent role, or b) you work at a paper too small or too far away to cover anything BUT preps and recs. And in those cases, there's still a caste system: high school football beat is more important than the high school volleyball or middle school beats.

    Can anyone think of a paper where going from a full-time college or pro beat to a full-time prep beat would be considered a step up? Or even a lateral move?
  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I can name two, if for no other reason the preps guys at them have been there for 25-plus years each and have carved out a reputation as THE authority on preps in the state. It would be a tough act to follow, but even a party with no ties to current players would see that.

    And I'm sure there are others elsewhere in the county.

    I understand what you mean by it being the low end of the food chain. But it isn't, nor should it, ALWAYS be treated as such.
    Take away the Texas coverage from Abilene (for example)? Hey, we've got AP. Take away the preps? We've got.... an indispensable beat.
  10. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I view covering the Steelers as the "prized position" from a young age, whereas most people, in my opinion, don't grow up thinking, "Man, I really want to cover Mars (a Pittsburgh high school) football."

    It's based mostly on perception and partly on notoriety and the pay scale. I view it as being "bumped up," but I know a lot of writers who wouldn't move from their high school beats no matter what the offer. To them, it isn't "bumped up." It's all based on personal perception.
  11. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    I enjoyed my times doing preps when it came with dealing with the athletes (99 percent of them) and coaches (99 percent of them). Parents? Couldn't stand them when I was covering preps, can't stand them now as sports editor.
  12. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I've covered all three, and I like covering colleges the best by far. Not even close. It's fun to go to a pro game, no doubt, but the work is grinding and the athletes so disconnected from the general public that it can become tedious. I don't mind covering prep games, but I hate the parent bullshit that inherently goes into covering preps full-time. It's one hell of a grind with all of the stuff that you have to keep up with.

    But to answer the question, it's easier to bump someone up from preps to a college beat. You can then fill the preps beat with a newbie for much cheaper than it would take to find a seasoned college writer.
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