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Cover what you like, or what the readers do

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rhody31, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I work at a two-man shop - chain of six weeklies - and this week, my co-worker was off.
    I had some help from our sister papers on some stories - four for the six - but for the most part, my coverage in each paper was on a pro golf tournament in-state. Probably not the most important thing going on, but for the purpose it served - filling pages - it kept my workload to a minimum and so far, I've put out four not god-awful sections.
    I realized though, even had my co-worker been here, things would have been similar. We would have had maybe a few legion games covered, but I would have gone to golf because it's fun to cover.
    It's not something unique to my papers, I'm sure. Reading this board, it seems there are many who cover stuff because they like it more than something that the readers may enjoy more.
    Take Little League for example. Next week we start all-stars and we don't skimp on our coverage. Major division is our No. 1 priority, but we're the only paper in this two-paper area that covers the softball and various other all-star divisions. Hell, we gi e the minor divisions kids some love (mainly cheesy feature stuff with a ton of photos and very little discussion about the billions of errors or lack of fundamentals) because our readers go apeshit for it. It's not Pulitzer-prize or even local award-winning shit, but our readers want it so we give it to them.
    So is it wrong to skip stuff that I don't like in favor of covering stuff I do? I mean, I don't hate covering Little League, but I can find plenty of stuff I'd rather do on a day I was supposed to have off instead of covering a game that makes my section kick ass.
  2. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    Your readers are the audience. You're there to serve them. You cover what the audience demands, and if that means little league, so be it.
  3. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    I like Little League. I just don't get why people say covering the other divisions or little league softball is stupid when it goes over so well.
    I probably will change my tune in two weeks when I'm covering my 30th little league game of the season.
  4. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    I don't think either answer is the answer we should strive for.

    Obviously you shouldn't just cover the things you like. But, as the MMA thread here will attest, not everyone feels that way. You're there to cover the sports (or news) of a given town and/or readership area and, as such, sometimes you have to go to crappy events you'd rather skip even if there is something that you would rather enjoy more on a personal level happening right down the street.

    At the same time, though, you can't always let your readers dictate your coverage. For much the same reasons I listed above, sometimes the most popular story isn't the most newsworthy and while a good portion of your readers might prefer Game story No. 8 on the local football team over a big story on the girls field hockey team's championship win, sometimes you've got to decide what really is the most important news to your ENTIRE readership area because not everyone who picks up your paper likes the same thing and not everyone who picks up your paper will call you to let you know their opinion one way or another.

    In the end, you've got to decide what the most important and most newsworthy sports stories are for your readership area, not necessarily the one or two readers who are going to complain and, at the end of the day, if you walk away feeling you did a good job finding that, it shouldn't matter if you liked or hated what you actually had to sit through.
  5. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Fuck you and your logic.
  6. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    I won a state prize for a Little League photo not too many years back, so it can be done. I have no problem with Little League...it gathers a bigger crowd than any of the legion games I cover and there's still that magic that a town gets behind a Little League team as it goes through state/regionals and beyond (if you're so lucky).

    Find a balance...you may not have hours to devote to everything that is "demanding" coverage, but at the same time you can't completely ignore popular events. I find that features fill the gap...it allows you to make a big package and dominate a page, and often you can plug them in as needed to fill in slow days.
  7. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    How dare you talk to your boss like that! :)
  8. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Little League is more bearable if you don't stress too much about quotes...get some stuff from the coach and call it good.

    The kids rarely say anything worthwhile at that age, and you avoid a throng of parents wondering "why didn't you talk to my kid?" as you walk back to your car :)
  9. btm

    btm Member

    Ugh...Don't remind me Little League is on the horizon.

    If there has been one thing more detrimental to high school baseball in the past 10 years, I would love to see it.
  10. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Disagree there.
    The boys are usually worthless, but if you ask a 12-year old girl about her game, you'll get quotes for days.
    It's weird, because I find myself going out of my way to ask the kids for quotes anyway because I feel like it means more to them to see their name in the paper. While that's not my job, I feel like it's part of it and Little League is a fun time to not stress so much on the winning and losing, but the kids genuinely enjoying themselves.
    Then the parents go and ruin everything by bitching.

    I think this is the type of thinking that ruins Little League season. High school baseball - at least in my area - isn't exactly high quality shit.
    I lose a lot of interest in it because all I here is the ex-high school stars complain about how much better it was when they played and the kids they're covering now aren't fun.
    It might be different when you have legit teams with MLB prospects or D-I kids coming through every year, but here in RI, high school baseball doesn't deserve any more coverage than any other sport, contrary to what some believe.
  11. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Yes, the spring prep baseball season, followed by a summer of legion ball...double-dipping baseball is too much for me...I try my best to find other options for the summer, although legion ball still gets a regular part in the rotation. Now, 6 months of basketball...that I could handle :)
  12. btm

    btm Member

    Baseball in my area stinks as well. It doesn't help when they only play for about a month, gather up the all-stars (which only usually wind up playing for another week) and don't bother with the other kids. There really isn't much of an incentive for a chance for them to get any better.
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