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Covering a hometown Olympian from afar

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HanSenSE, May 29, 2012.

  1. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Figured quite a few might be in this predicament, so I turn to the collective wisdom (and collective wiseguys, of course) of SportsJournalists.com:

    We've got one boxer going to London. Of course, we can't staff that (not when there's youth baseball team pictures to run and swimming agate to hack to pieces), but I'm trying to figure out a way to make this as personal as possible for our readers beyond what we'll get from the wire: "America's Joe Jab, from Podunk, stopped Cuba's Fidel Guillen in the third round."

    Already got an email into his agent representative to do a sendoff feature, but what to do from there? I'm hoping to collect as many cell numbers as possible on folks who may be going. But should I be doing more? Are the national associations any help?
  2. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    The agent is all you need. The national association won't do dick especially for a sport like boxing, which isn't really a team sport. Remember, this guy is going to be as motivated as you are to get something done -- he is thinking about a pro career, and the way that starts will probably be a few hometown fights where he needs to sell tickets. The marketing has already begun.

    The typical outlet for this kind of stuff has been the "Daily Postcard." just a short email that you can get all dolled up as a graphic. Would adapt easily to a blog or other online outlet. Maybe work out ahead of time that you want a phoner with the guy after every fight.
  3. rmanfredi

    rmanfredi Active Member

    Instead of asking him to write for you - Lord knows what type of quality you'll get - see if he can send over some daily pictures or a video diary of what he's going through. Since he's a younger kid, he's probably more comfortable doing that and using a form of technology to document his life.
  4. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Great ideas. I like the diary thing, whether written or video. Done that before. Ditto for the daily 5-minute phone call.

    The problem is that the Olympics are just insane as far as the atmosphere goes. If he's staying in the village, or even if not, there are a million and one distractions with security, drug testing, special press conferences, practices, etc. It's real easy to forget commitments you made earlier. So it helps to have someone else --- an agent, family, etc. -- alongside who can give them a daily reminder.

    Smart idea to get on board now ahead of time. Good luck to you.
  5. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I had to do this a couple times in the days before social media or online video or quotes being posted to websites...

    The more you do before the games, the better off you're going to be during the games.

    Always have a backup plan. As good as the intentions may be, the chances that at least once you're not going to get what you hoped or expected back are very high.

    We did a daily postcard with a local athlete when they were in Nagano. I think we scheduled 12 of them and she was ecstatic to help but there were two days where we got nothing and then the next day they just showed up again. You have to have the attitude that you'll be happy with what you get and don't obsess over what you don't.
  6. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Don't contact the USOC but it would be worth your time to contact the USA Boxing PR director ahead of time and see if he/she can assist you. The NGB PR people will have better access to the athletes than their agent will. NGB reps can get into the Village & the "backstage" areas at the venues.
  7. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    The deadlines in London should work in your favor.

    Definitely try to get in touch with a family before hand and see if you can check in with a mom or a brother or something each day if they're traveling. They might be able to add some scene and context to anything that happens much better than the athlete could, just because their distractions will be fewer.
  8. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Good advice. Also, find out if any family members are traveling with them and get their email addresses and phone numbers.
  9. Getting them to do a daily blog - hosted on your site, of course - would be a great place to start.
  10. Cool opportunity to do some unique things, especially online. I would definitely reach out to USOC boxing officials - they might have a lead on photographers/cinematographers who are shooting for them but also funneling content to papers like yours. I would also think about working your ass off to establish a good rapport with the athlete and his Olympic entourage, like mom, brother, girlfriend. If you can "friend" any of them on Facebook and get advance clearance to pull images they'll presumably be posting for friends and family, that could be a golden ticket to regular stream of content. Get a sentence or two and captions from them, and then a semi-regular phone call arranged with the athlete, and you're on the way to a sweet little blog that you can roll out highlights of for the paper. One more thing: Don't shy away from leaning on the athlete for help -- he may be just as keen on cultivating a following, local or otherwise, as you are.
  11. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    The USOC media relations department actually will go out of its way to help when they hear the magic words "hometown paper." But USA Boxing will almost surely do even more.
  12. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Once upon a time, at least as recently as the 1998 Nagano Games, the AP would write "specials" for subscriber papers if you gave them enough notice. As I recall, there was a not-insubstantial fee involved. Check with your regional AP bureau and see if that's still in the plans, then weigh the cost vs. benefit.
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