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CJR: How sportswriting can recapture its relevance

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Wendy Parker, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Wendy Parker

    Wendy Parker New Member

    Red Grange biographer Gary Andrew Poole thinks it's not to late to get it back:

  2. micke77

    micke77 Member

    maybe i am a romanticist, but sportswriting still does have revelance i say this even as a jaded, long-time journalist who can grow quickly cynical at the things that have sometimes tarnished our craft. or how things are handled in the games people play.
    i work at a small daily and, hokey as it might sound, readers still love grabbing that paper every day and reading about a "local boy or girl" who does good on the athletic front. i used to think this was mere mish-mash and untrue, but time and time again through the years I have been reminded of it when some parent, friend or acquaintance told me how much that meant to "little Joe seeing his name in the youth baseball report." I have written about such individuals and dismissed any thoughts that they might enjoy that particular story for something other than wrapping the fish.
    at least at our level of the business, i definitely see us being revelant and significant in some people's every day lives. if only for a few minutes, they find enjoyment in a brief mention about someone they knew, then i feel like we've done our job. and may i add i have had the good fortune of having written about numerous athletes who went on to national prominence and, at some point during their professional careers, have let me know they still have that newspaper clipping back when they were in Little League or whatever youth sports.
    maybe too often we do get caught up in the need to "get that scoop" or be controversial or whatever and overlook the mere human element in it and how the stories we write can have an impact on people's lives.
  3. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Write longer narratives in the days of shrinking staffs and smaller news holes?
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    Great stuff and he's right. I remember vividly the looks I got one day when discussing plans for a big event in our town. I was thinking of, you know, the actual section that came out the next day? What were my WEB plans, I was asked sternly. WEB. WEB.

    Give me something to read. PLEASE.
  5. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    What I would like to see is some failing paper, even with shrinking staffs and smaller news holes, to take a chance and instead of trying to get ahead of a curve they can't even see, turn the clock back. Leave all the minutiae and vertical stuff the web does best for the web, and take back what papers do best - long gamers, multiple strong columnists, and takeouts. Fire everybody and hire a bunch of talented kids and talented but frustrated experienced writers and just LET THEM RIP. Put about 10% of it on their web site, just a taste, and keep the rest for print. Because you have NOTHING TO LOSE.

    It takes me about five minutes to read my local sports page on a Sunday, and even less during the week, because THERE IS NOTHING TO READ. A pile of 75-150 word "stories," agate and a washed out syndicated column. I used to look forward to reading the paper. Now I just dread it, like looking at someone dying of cancer who keeps reaching for another pack of smokes.
  6. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    You weren't worried about all those people with subscriptions to your Twitter coverage?? Shame, shame.
  7. Sneed

    Sneed Guest

    I think this is a phenomenal idea. I worked at a weekly for a year, and my editor was gracious enough to allow me freedom to write about whatever I wanted, however I wanted....as long as everything fit in the two pages I was given to work with. It was all community stuff, so at the time it felt like small potatoes, but micke77's right -- I realized the importance of that work to the people who read it. I've been gone from that paper for a few months now and still, if I bump into someone who read it, get compliments or appreciation simply for doing a profile or feature or column on a kid.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    The general manager of the local MLB team once told me when I was devoting my time primarily to enterprise and substantive features: "You have the best job at that paper, even better than the columnists. Variety of material to work with and time to really develop and tell the stories." I agreed with him, and reader reaction to the stories almost always was strong.

    Now no one has the best job at the paper, because that job doesn't exist and hasn't for more than a decade.
  9. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Well-Known Member

    Every so often, these threads remind me of this:

    The buggy whip part ... I keep thinking the answer lies somewhere between that part of the monologue and the proposal above. I'd like to think it's closer to the proposal above than to the buggy whip part of Devito's speech. And yes, I know it's not even close to a perfect analogy, but it keeps popping up in my mind.
  10. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    The thing that makes me mad is the people pushing WEB every minute have no clue if that is the answer. Guess what ... advertisers say it isn't. The print product was a successful business venture. The print product has been ruined with layoffs/firings. SELF FULFILLING PROPHECY.
  11. CornFlakes

    CornFlakes Member


    "The sports pages used to hold the honor as one of the best-written and best-reported sections in a newspaper. "

    The problem now is that too many sports editors were never BEAT REPORTERS and can't relate to the obstacles and don't even understand BEAT REPORTING. They fly in on game day and write empty columns with no insights and expose themselves as assclowns with no pulse on what's going on with the team. Yet they are the decision-makers for the section and all they are worried about is worthless blog items because that's the trendy thing to do. They don't know good reporting when it slaps them in the face.

    They don't give the writers the time needed to write outstanding features or do project reporting. All they care about is filling space and saying "yes sir" when the lame editor-in-chief calls them in for a meeting.

    So to achieve what this article hints at, one thing is needed: More award-winning beat writers becoming sports editors, not the shallow-minded lemmings who advance to sports editor in this, the lamest era in the history of sports journalism.

    Also, and I swear I don't know Wendy Parker and am not related to her, I loved her column on the Houston Comets in the latest addition of the Basketball Times even though I have zero interest in the WNBA. Well done, Wendy.
  12. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Speaking of corn flakes, sounds like somebody pissed in yours.

    On a related note, I wonder if there's a way to find out the percentage of beat writers, deskers and non-sports personnel who made up the group of sports editors at, say, 100K papers and up at any given time since the turn of the 20th century. I'd definitely be interested in those stats -- I have no idea if CornFlakes' claim is true or not. (Where's the Baseball-Reference Play Index for sports journalism when you need it? :D)
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