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Community journalism (bowling, racing, etc.)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Inky_Wretch, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    A local gearhead has hounded the sports department for years about why we don't cover the local dirt track racing scene like we do the "stick and ball sports" as he derisively calls them. After years of hearing him say the fact that NASCAR tracks seat 200k while football stadiums only hold 60-100k "proves racing is more popular than football," I finally told him to pound sand and leave us alone.

    So he's moved on to calling the ME every Monday to hound him about covering the quarter-mile drag strip 30 miles out in the country and whatever other local racing is happening. Now my ME is considering letting this guy do a weekly local racing column.

    I have mixed feelings. While I think it might be a benefit to our readers, I worry it will open the door for others to start submitting other "write ups." If we're doing this, what's to stop the local bowling guru from wanting the same? Or local golfers wanting a column listing who won the Wednesday afternoon scramble at one of the muni courses? Or, God forbid, a mother wanting to do a roundup of the weekend's 8-and-under slow-pitch softball league?

    What's been your experience with this sort of stuff?
  2. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    A little off the norm, but try putting a question box somewhere on 1B for your readers asking something like, "Want to see more local auto racing coverage? Call us or send an email and let us know."
  3. How many people go out to the local dirt track on a typical race night? If the answer is 10, then you would be better off running a syndicated NASCAR column for your motorsports coverage (if you need to do anything differently at all). If the answer if 3,000, then you probably shouldn't have told him to "pound sand" and you should ask yourself why in hell's name you weren't covering it already.

    As for the column...beyond interest, it depends if the guy can write and if he can keep it local enough to be worthwhile.
  4. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    We run just about anything and everything that moves on the wire about NASCAR.

    As for why we don't cover the local tracks, their seasons are just too damned long. They start in March, when we're still dealing with high school sports. Run all summer when everybody is taking vacation. And don't finish until October, when we're into the heart of football season. We'll do features tied to the local tracks, but we just don't have the manpower to staff dirt track racing every Friday and Saturday night for eight months of the year.

    That's why I'm considering letting psycho gearhead do the weekly column. But, as I said, I'm worried about opening that door.
  5. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    We had one of our former photogs send us a weekly photo and feature from the local track, and we grouped it with weekly NASCAR coverage on a page where we sold special ads, etc. Seemed to work pretty well, and because there were ads, we didn't have to work as hard to find copy to fill.
  6. I'd run -- no, sprint -- to the ME's office and tell him you'll try to do more with the local track before the yahoo submits any columns.

    First of all, you know those columns are going to be flat-out abysmal. Second, you're probably going to have to edit them, and professional newspaper reporters have a hard enough time being edited, let alone people who don't know how to write for a newspaper. (I've had some first-hand experience at this a long time ago.)

    NoTalent has a good point: there might be nobody there, but there might be several hundred, or even thousand -- more than a high school basketball game. So the track could be a source of half-decent features, especially in the summer. Even on weeks that you're up to your eyeballs in high school crap, you can have the guy call in results, highlights, whatever and do a little wrap on it in an hour. Hey, it helps fill the section.

    What you can do beyond that is get the guy to provide you with names and numbers of every driver out there, so you can reach these people without much of a problem. Have him do all the legwork -- he'll probably be happy to. It could be kind of a win-win -- the fan only wants more coverage, not to write it. And, for God's sakes, don't let him write it.
  7. Oh, forgot: The one thing you can tell Mr. NASCAR-is-more-popular-than-football is that NASCAR does not have eight races at one track in one year, like an NFL team. I think you can say with pretty much confidence that the Carolina Panthers outdraws the Lowe's Motor Speedway -- even though it's an apples-to-oranges comparison to begin with.
  8. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    Ike nailed it. It could add to your local content, so try to get something decent out of what's going on at the track. But don't let Tardles have his own column, or you'll rue the day. Let him be the unofficial media officer if he's so keen.
  9. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Shoot this fucker in the back of the head and leave the body on the fucking shit-brown dirt track.

    Fuck car racing.
  10. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    While my rational mind endorses the suggestions that Ike, Alley and NoTalent contributed, my less rational mind chimes in with Zeke.

    Indeed, Zeke. Fuck car racing in the ass with a serrated, rusty iron dildo dipped in botulism sauce. No lube.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Only the people who want it will respond.

    This is not a "scientific" survey. A former boss wanted to conduct "our own readership survey." Fortunately, the man who hired me for my first full-time job had left the business for a marketing firm of which he had risen to VP. I e-mailed him and said, basically, what do I tell this creature? He explained in more detail than I can remember why this is best left to professionals and used just enough 10-dollar words to impress the boss. So we never did it.

    You will never convert the outsiders, but if your ME is the reasonable sort, try to explain that appealing to participants does little except bore the crap out of the vast majority, who are interested primarily in the people they see on TV or that draw large crowds locally. But if he is among the "Names Sell Papers" crowd, forget it, start honing your youth-soccer skills.
  12. pressboxer

    pressboxer Active Member

    Not to mention the fact that there are not 16 Nextel Cup races ever weekend.
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