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Dear dimwit on the phone

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Starman, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    Used to have this back-and-forth with tennis coach - he's drop off a copy of tournament results, then say something passive-aggressive like, "I know you guys cover football and basketball all the time - and I'm not saying you shouldn't cover them - but I doubt those kids spend all day outside in the wind and rain playing in a day-long tournament like these tennis players did today."

    I'd often times let him have his say, but would sometimes respond with, "Well, those football and basketball teams play before crowds in the thousands every single game. How were the crowds today your tennis tournaments, in the thousands?"
  2. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Hell, when I was a university SID, we'd never have more than a few dozen people at our tennis or track events. I was there because it was my job and was getting paid to record the results and keep stats, but I often wondered if I was wasting my time sending stories to the paper (this was in the days before websites).

    Nowadays, with websites and all and unlimited space, you can do all the stories and post all the photos you want without shortchanging something else.
  3. Flip Wilson

    Flip Wilson Well-Known Member

    I feel your pain. When I was SID-ing, I would write up the game stories and put them on our web and wonder just who the hell reads this. We were a mid-major struggling to get coverage in the local newspaper -- the biggest in the state -- when the big State U. was five hours up the highway. And I've often wondered if anyone would really care if that school dropped athletics completely. The only time there were more than a couple of thousand people at a men's basketball game -- which was our big sport -- was when we were playing an in-state rival. No other sport drew any fans at all. A couple of dozen for baseball, maybe, and the same for volleyball and soccer. It just seemed like a huge waste of state money.
  4. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I have found that a niche audience --- usually family and friends of the athletes plus a few zealous alums --- are interested in reading the stuff. And, in this day and age of the internet, you aren't sacrificing one thing for something else. So it's a little more palatable in that regard.

    And then there are the few and far between small dailies who will take your copy on the local college soccer team (or whatever sport) and run it verbatim.
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I ask this in all seriousness ... is that an ethical violation? I always looked at those as press releases, especially since I get the same stories e-mailed to me by our area SIDs. Obviously, you should give credit or at least a "from staff reports" byline and not your own, and edit them for content, but to me those are written to be redistributed in some form.

    For the record, I always rewrite those stories when I'm on the desk to give us ownership of it. Put my own lede on it and reorganize some of the information. But when someone is filling in for me whose editor skills are ... lacking, would be a nice way to put it ... I'd often rather have them copy and paste than muck it up.
  6. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    I'm with you Batman. But most of the releases I have seen can't run in a good newspaper verbatim. Most are written (badly) by college kids, as far as I can tell.
  7. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Another reason why I like to rewrite them.
    I mostly do it with college baseball, which is big in our area and the AP does nothing with. With the teams in our area, though, we're fortunate to have some great SIDs who not only understand AP style, but seem to understand the needs of the media. We're in SEC country, and there's at least a half-dozen schools in that league that include quotes in their stories, postgame video interviews, highlights and photo galleries. It really fills a gap in our coverage that we simply cannot fill with any wire service.
    When you get two of the schools with top-notch SID staffs playing each other (like Mississippi State and LSU), it's not too difficult to look over all the available material and crank out a solid gamer in 30 minutes.
  8. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Wish we could get some good news releases. The colleges aren't too bad. Seems the bigger the school , the better the SIDs. But the best ones, oddly enough, come from the local NASL team's website. The local arena team's stuff is awful.
  9. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    We have two D-I schools in the area and we usually write road games off a combo of press release (if we get them before deadline) and the box score.
    Especially with hockey and basketball, I can pull a quote or two from a file they post and make it readable to the point of it not being not nuts and bolts.
    Then...well, the community college, yeah...not as much help. Terribly written press release, never timely...so they just get a nuts and bolts "leading scorers, score at the half, etc.) story.
  10. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I wish the SID at one of our local D-III schools would send anything at all.

    The other local D-III school e-mails releases (albeit summarized with a link to the website) not too long after each event ends -- and that school gets in a graf or two the paper almost daily. The other school's SID told me to go to the website myself. Uh, why? We don't run your schedule, and nobody cares enough to check on the off chance something was posted.

    Of course the JUCO (where one of my former sports colleagues is on the media relations staff) has no SID at all, and doesn't post a darn thing. I heard from the softball coach this past week about all-conference, and it was the first time all spring.

    That said, we compile a weekly mile-long and painfully boring notebook of college highlights by local athletes and it seems to be the best-read disaster in our section. Skip Little Johnny's three RBI day at your peril!
  11. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Well-Known Member

    In a past life, I did prep and college rewrite for a daily that has since closed. We had two D I schools (a major and a mid-major) and an NAIA school. I'd rewrite the events we weren't covering and put "From Local Reports" on top. I'd also use a dateline if the lead event wasn't in town. That seemed to work just fine.
  12. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    That's actually what we do. Except for a brief stretch last year when, right after our paper was sold, word got out that the new management was counting bylines to see who to fire and who to keep. Then, by order of the ME, EVERYTHING got a byline (she was feuding with the new owners and wanted to prove a point).
    Rewritten press release? Byline.
    Retyped press release? Byline.
    Local events calendar? Byline.
    College baseball gamer rewritten off a box score and school release? Byline.
    It was kind of a joke for a week or two that I somehow went from Houston to Birmingham and a couple of points in between to cover three things in one day, and still put in some office time. I was the busiest guy in the newsroom :)

    One thing I am a little sketchier about, however, is photos. If you give credit to the school and/or photographer, is it unethical to skip a step and just snatch those off a photo gallery?
    Whenever I've contacted an SID about pictures, they usually either send me the ones they've already posted, or just refer me to the gallery anyway. I figured it's pretty much SOP for most of them, so after a while I just cut out a step (especially on deadline) instead of asking permission every time. Always a little worried I'm going to end up with a cease and desist letter in my inbox, though.
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