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Draft Coverage Brainstorm

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SFR Man, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. SFR Man

    SFR Man New Member

    I'm in a small town. My high school football team has had limited success. A former local standout is a safe bet to be drafted between the third and fifth round of the upcoming NFL draft. He's probably the only professional draft prospect this region will have for quite some time.

    I'm wondering if anyone out there in smaller communities has experienced this "once-in-a-generation-local-athlete-goes-pro" situation, specifically as it relates to the draft. Is it possible to over-saturate your publication/market with content on something like this? Is there anything you wish you did coverage-wise that you didn't and regret when you look back? Is it worth an all hands on deck approach?

    I thought this could be a good thread to exchange other draft coverage ideas and questions as well, so feel free.
  2. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    It should be played up big because it is likely most of your readers will remember when he was on the local high school field and most will think it's pretty cool that one of their local kids got drafted. It doesn't need "all hands on deck" treatment thought, just one person on-call for when the pick is made. Make sure you have his cell phone number now (if you don't have it already), do an advance the week before the draft, keep an eye on the draft during it, give him a call that night for a quick interview. For the NFL draft, trying to get to his pro day and trying to get a stringer for the combine would have been worth it too. See if you can get something from training camp when the time comes too.
    My last shop had a baseball player drafted. I did a quick phoner with him that night, was in the living room when he signed a week later and we did quick roundup items on his minor league games (he is a starting pitcher so it was only once every five days)
  3. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    At my first stop, a small weekly, one of the high schools I covered had an alum who became a fairly successful LB with an SEC team. There was a lot of talk about him being the first player from that area drafted to the NFL. Being the eager young go-getter I was at the time, and looking for ways to fill a section with anything other than prep roundups, I decided to blow out the story.

    I obviously did a profile on the kid, his playing time in HS and college, his family, his coaches. I did a story talking to draft experts about where they expected him to go, what his pros and cons were, what the crop of LBs coming out looked like. I did a more general draft preview, covering other players from nearby areas who could be drafted. I even did a short story on a local coach who had been drafted and what that experience was like. All of that ran in one of the weekly editions and I thought it turned out pretty good.

    The kid agreed to let me come to his house, where he was watching the draft, and right a story about how it turned out. You can probably guess what happened next ... kid wasn't drafted. All I could do was a shorter story about his disappointment. He landed as an undrafted free agent with a team and then was rather quickly released.
  4. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    The best story is to have a writer with the family and hopefully the player as the draft happens.

    It's not a new concept, but more often than not it works. I did it twice and one of them ended up being one of the best stories I ever did, because the player fell out of the first round somewhat unexpectedly and he flipped the fuck out.

    My lead was describing him yelling at the TV when other players who played his position were taken ahead of him. It was gold. To be fair, he was right. He had a better career than any of the players at his position in that draft.

    The other one was a warm and fuzzy about a guy who went in a late round. Not as exciting, but still a nice story.

    The earlier you ask the family the better.

    If they say yes, plan on writing a news story for the next day and then do a feature on what the day was like a few days later so you have time to flesh it out.
  5. Craig Sagers Tailor

    Craig Sagers Tailor Active Member

    I got to do this last year. It was the guy who was a fairly successful DE at an SEC school. We watched the draft with his family in a hotel room and the commentary was kind of funny and interesting early on.

    "Man, that dude told teams he smoked"
    On an offensive lineman — "I beasted that guy at the combine"

    However, as the night went on, he got quieter and more concerned. He didn't get picked that night, which sucked from a story angle. This was Friday night and some experts were listing him as a second-rounder. He finally went in the fifth round the next day. I wasn't able to attend because of a state track meet, but called him for reaction.
  6. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    The guy I sat with left after the first round. Just walked out of the house, hopped on a motorcycle that teams didn't know he had and took off.

    I watched the second round with his family while his mom tried to get him to come back. He didn't come back until he was picked (late second) and his mom made him apologize to me for walking out... It was pretty hilarious.

    I was brutally honest in the story. I wrote every word her said when certain guys were picked. I ran into him a couple days after the story ran and he gave me a hug and said, "I love that shit, because now when I'm better than all of them, there's proof that I was right."

    And he was.
  7. TyWebb

    TyWebb Well-Known Member

    Oh I am dying to know who this guy was/is. Hint?
  8. Bronco77

    Bronco77 Well-Known Member

    At my first paper (and granted, it was many years ago), one of our former high school stars went high in the second round and we ran a lead (the main news story) and two reaction sidebars (one family, one his high school coach). We emphasized the follow-up stories, too. He was drafted by a team that was only about a five-hour drive away, so we were able to catch up with him in training camp and a few times during the regular season.
  9. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    PM me, I'll tell you...
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