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Driving me bananas

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by sprtswrtr10, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Mauve_Avenger

    Mauve_Avenger Member

    I agree with this. One thing I have noticed from some younger reporters in my area is them tweeting like 50 times per game. Not only is it unnecessary, but it is also pretty annoying to have your Twitter feed filled up with random plays. Just give people basic updates and some analysis, that's what 99 percent of interested people really want.
     
    BDC99 likes this.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Basketball isn't as bad as football, but I would say you are better off spending the video time taking photos since they do better online. You aren't going to get the traffic on video unless you get something crazy by accident.

    If you do any editing at all on videos, I think the time spent vs. traffic generated is extremely low for 99.9 percent of videos.
     
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It's funny. I am out of the sports biz for a year now and doing business communications.

    We have the same kind of issues I am seeing here.

    The assumption is that if you ask reporters to keep "complete" stats, he or she will just load the story with play-by-play.

    I liked to have stats so I could pluck out the most pertinent or interesting.

    In my current job, I get pushback from subject matter experts when I ask about certain things because they assume I am going to include that in whatever I am writing. Most of the time I just want to know so I understand more completely what I am writing about and don't intend to put it in the article.

    Most good writing is deciding what NOT to include. If you include everything you know, your story stinks.
     
    Lugnuts, murphyc, Double Down and 3 others like this.
  4. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Seconded. Between innings in baseball/softball, at dead balls in hoops and change of possessions in football seems to be enough.
     
  5. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Shooting video isn't difficult with a phone. You just have to go into it understand you're not going to catch a big play. Wait for a moment when something big will happen, then go.
    I was the first one in RI to really use video with social media. The quality sucked, but I got some cool stuff that people liked - girls singing softball songs at a little league game, kids celebrating a HR, etc. Best one I had was a kid's 1,000th point. He needed five. He got a quick three and I planted myself on the baseline. Once he touched the ball, I recorded it. A couple trips later, got the video. Was it great? Nope. But the video and the story were something none of my competitors - opposing weekly, big state paper, local TV - had.
    One of the biggest problems with the industry is how quick we'll say "can't" without even trying. Can't usually comes about from fear or laziness. You're either afraid to try something new or too lazy to do it. You can shoot, cover a game, tweet, Vine, get video and put together a good product on all fronts. You just have to figure out how.
     
    Ace likes this.
  6. sprtswrtr10

    sprtswrtr10 Member

    FYI — Our boxscores are not reflecting missed shots/rebounds/steals/assists/turnovers. They are not, and I don't want them to. Takes to long to write up, not worth it. HOWEVER, what I'm saying is, there are minimum things you have to keep as you cover the game that allow you to actually know what happened in the game. I want my guy to get, by player — shooting (makes and misses from FT line, 2s and 3s), rebounds (bonus if offensive and defensive can be kept), scoring sequence and team turnovers. I think you must know those things to know what happened, what really happened, in the game. Then, I want a game story that's high on narrative and very low on play by play. The fundamental disagreement is basically one of, "I don't need to keep any stats but scoring, and I'll know what happened simply by watching the game." And I disagree with this. If you do that, you'll be no more informed about the game than a parent with a program writing down made field goals and FTs. So, if you're going to cover a game in which stats are not provided, there's a minimum that you yourself must keep … not to mention the additional info you record will make its way into notebooks or inform your non-game coverage. There's a way to do this right. We're all doing more, yes. But the minimum required has not changed. This is that minimum.
     
  7. KyleFranko

    KyleFranko New Member

    This is a fantastic thread. Thanks to sprtswrtr10 for starting it.

    I just left my post at the Idaho State Journal (and I'm looking for work in Michigan), and I feel like we did everything that would drive sprtswrtr10 nuts. As a young sports staff, we wanted to push our online product heavily. We still put a lot of effort into print — a lot — but strove to drive for a positive online presence. For me, that meant video with an iPhone. And a bunch of it. From preps to Idaho State athletics, it didn't matter. We used video. In particular, and it doesn't seem like many folks are talking about this, we used VINE.

    I love Vine. A young, hard-working sports writer came to the Journal and shed light on the wonders of Vine for me. They're six-second videos that are absolute gold, especially with Vine's integration with Twitter. During games — volleyball, football, basketball, whatever — we'd tweet vines sporadically. Instead of just telling someone it's 17-14 at half, it was about showing someone it's 17-14 and here's the last scoring play. Are they great videos? Nah. Do they compete with TV? Nah. But they're online immediately. And we embed them in our stories online. Our Twitter interactions skyrocket with those Vines (and regular Twitter video for highlights that run a little longer).

    You can see the results for yourselves ...

    HEARTBREAK — Bengals lose 33-27 in overtime on crazy ending

    HS football: ON TO THE SEMIS — Highland squeaks past Eagle to advance to 5A state semifinals (video)

    SHOCKER IN GRAND FORKS — Idaho State upsets North Dakota 37-31

    Dreams dashed: Aberdeen falls to Grangeville in 2A championship game (video)

    Are people watching those Vines? Between three sports writers, we have a combined 2,340,061 loops as of this post in less than a year (and one of the sports writers just started vining this previous fall). I love the fact we could beat the TV stations and have highlights available before them. And in a small market, the TV stations (many times) can't stay for an entire game. That means you'd have to come to us for the game-winning TD pass or jump shot.

    I don't care about the quality. These videos aren't running on someone's television. They're on our phones and laptops.

    There is a big BUT, though. It's hard to go to the analytics and prove that all these wonderful videos pushed traffic to our website. There are a couple examples where a certain video did (that'd be this: VIDEO: Madison Mangum's one-handed catch against Black Hills State). Otherwise, however, there's no question that people weren't coming to us for highlights. Readers want us to provide insight, stats, quotes from coaches and players.

    And I worry that there were times when we were too focused on video to make sure we took care of all the basics first. sprtswrtr10 wants his new guy to "write with accuracy." Video can get in the way of that. With practice, though, balancing video with stats, photos, all those kinds of duties becomes easier.

    After spending the past year going to games and worrying just as much about Twitter/videos as I do stats, I actually feel lazy if I'm at a game and not attempting to take video. I should be doing more. Vine, Twitter videos, they're tools. Valuable ones, in my opinion. No way would I stop using them.
     
    Lugnuts and Ace like this.
  8. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Baseball and soccer are easy to keep up with while doing all of the social media, shooting photos/video, etc. The pace is slow enough that I can keep up with the important stuff while doing that.
    Football is more difficult, but can be done. With basketball, though, I've found my writing has really suffered since we had staff cuts and I had to start shooting photos at most of the games I covered.
    For basketball, I used to keep comprehensive stats. All of the major categories, plus key play by play, team and individual shooting, everything you can think of. I was never very good analyzing the strategy of the game, but I was able to cover that up through my stat keeping. I could figure out the right questions to ask by noticing that Johnny Superstar went 8-for-10 in the first half and 2-for-12 in the second, so something must have happened there. Or Podunk High only had four turnovers, so ball handling was a key factor.

    Once I started shooting and covering, I had to completely revamp my method of covering games. My old way was dependent on not missing anything, and if you're shooting pictures it's impossible to keep accurate stats. I developed ways to keep up with runs and follow key points in the game, but if the coaches aren't tracking rebounds, steals, etc. (and a lot of times they have student managers doing it, so it's 50-50 if they get it right or get it at all) I won't have those totals in my game story. I also won't have them for follow-up pieces, which also sucks. Knowing that Player A had a triple-double is a great story. Knowing he's had five straight double-doubles and a two-minute postgame interview can make for a good quick-hit feature on an off day.
    What I really hate is that I've found myself asking a lot more general questions instead of focused ones, simply because I'm not sure quite what to ask. I can see that a team is shooting well for a stretch, but I don't know how well. So instead of zeroing in on the 6-for-8 stretch in the third quarter that gave Podunk the lead, getting good quotes from well-informed questions and building the core of a decent story around that, I'm writing vaguely about how well they played in the third quarter and maybe giving a detail or two about the run they made.
    In my heart I know I can do better. Only I can't do better because I have to do three other things that doesn't allow me to do it the right way.
    I'm enough of a veteran that I can work around it and write something passable. A younger reporter might figure it out with the right tutoring, or if they're good enough, but there's just as good a chance it's going to come off as ill-informed and lacking.
     
  9. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    I mean this in as gentle a way as possible, but this is your minimum, not THE minimum. I don't think its a bad thing to want your guys to be detailed, but its a want, not a need. I'm positive, many a person has written a good or great HS game story with only a dusting of stats. I understand its good to have for next-day stuff, but your in-depth stats will cover a relatively small number of the games any particular team plays (unless your guys are at games every night and your coverage area is pretty small). So you'll have a small piece of information, and while that's nice, it remains more of a want than a need.

    As for being no more informed than a parent keeping stats, it seems sort of insulting to imagine the extent of someone's understanding of a game comes down to having a fuller record of the numbers available. Could a person not gain something from actively watching and noting the goings on in an aesthetic rather than numeric way? It also understates the fact that many reporters have to go into some sports with a less full understanding than some parents. I'd bet a lot of writers walk into volleyball or wrestling with a worse feel for whats going on than some of the parents in the stands. That's life in this business. I mean, almost no prep writers have the stat keeping dexterity to keep hitting percentage for volleyball. That number if pretty important and illuminating, more so than raw kills, aces or digs, but we go without all the time.

    I'm interested why, if tracking rebounds is important, you don't make differentiating between offensive and defensive mandatory. I mean, rebounding totals are a context statistic. Saying a team was out-rebounded 25-20 tells almost nothing about what happened in the game. It's just sort of a nice number to adorn a story with.

    I've done it both ways. Each has its merits. Having the extra numbers is great if you have a feel for how to use them, but they're no guarantee of better stories or even a better understanding of what you're seeing (there is some backing to what you're seeing, but you also see less because statting consumes more focus).

    (Keeping a running scoring log still seems like common sense, I will back that)
     
  10. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    Do photos do better online? In any case, if you're not shooting video at all, you miss any chance of getting something crazy and high traffic. You can still shoot few clips here and there. On the sideline, you just need to hold up your phone on plays you'd watch anyway, occasionally shit angles. Takes some shuffling. Not sure the time/effort math, but the bosses want it, so might as well try to make it decent?
     
  11. BrendaStarr

    BrendaStarr Member

    Whenever I cover high school basketball games, I keep a running play-by-play using shorthand, which helps me keep track of turnovers and scoring runs. I typically jot down the time in the game baskets were scored too, which was helpful when I covered a game where a team failed to score a basket in the final 5ish minutes. I don't know how it is in your area, but most teams that I have covered have a coach on the bench keeping stats electronically and are available right after the game. That has allowed me to not worry about keeping track of rebounds/assists/shooting percentage. Might be worth having your reporter find out before games whether the teams he's covering are keeping those stats because it can be a huge help and means he won't have to do it.

    Also, stats don't tell the whole story, and I've always found it distracting when trying to keep every single stat while covering a basketball game. It's important to watch what's going on. Maybe a player is shutting down the opposing team's best player by denying them the ball, not letting them get a shot off, etc. That's something that likely won't show up in those stats. Obviously heavy stat taking is a requirement you have for your prep writer and the standard you want set.

    But all that stat tracking might not make him a better writer, which should be the goal, right?
     
    Tweener likes this.
  12. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    In the majority of instances, a stat or two isn't what makes or breaks the story, but when you have a choice to use "Hometown High rallied in the second half and beat Podunk," as opposed to "Hometown High went on a 16-2 run over the final 6 minutes of the third quarter," there's no question which is better for the reader. It's not that hard to do, but, yes, some people need to be shown how to do this instead of letting them try to figure it out on their own.
     
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