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Earlier Deadlines screws sport coverage

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Readallover, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Why the delay? Get stuff up on social and web as quickly as you are able. Is it a company policy or something?
  2. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    We do the same thing. It's to help create a steadier flow of content on the web site throughout the day.
    Like, if I have a gamer from Tuesday that I write on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, I'll put it online ASAP. Same with breaking news, or anything on the state level that will be quickly circulated by bigger outlets.
    But if I have a feature or a preview for a game the next day, then that might go online the following morning since it's unique content with a longer shelf life.

    It also helps to keep stories from getting lost in a blizzard. If you have three gamers that go up in short order, that feature might get lost among them. Why not shift it to the next day and let it lead your site for 10 hours or so?

    Basically, it's a way to space out your work a bit and not run a small (in my case, one-person) staff into the ground, while still giving the illusion that you're constantly producing material. I like to think of it as a 12-hour cycle. Try to post some stuff in the evening and some in the morning, and if you get to sprinkle some things in during the day then it's a bonus.
  3. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Same with the paper I string for now. Night game gamer will be online by midnight, in the dead tree edition the day after. But I'm fining I edit my stories more carefully than when I was in the business full-time.
  4. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    Interesting rationale. It just seems not as wise around postseason time though.

    Recent example from my shop: Saturday game, but no Sunday paper so gamer goes in Monday paper. Next round of playoffs were Monday night at 6 pm. Saturday gamer posted on social at 6:30 pm Monday night.
  5. studthug12

    studthug12 Active Member

    That's what is lame. Post it when it's relevant but still at a good time....doesn't your paper have a FB page? Post status of the game tell people in preview to watch social media channels for updates of the game. Post final score with few graphs, say full gamer will be here....then post the finished link at time analytics say it's good like 8 a.m. the next day.
  6. stix

    stix Active Member

    Well said, totally agree.

    My shop moved up to a 4:30 deadline for sports last July. Obviously it sucks in terms of timeliness and I still get plenty of complaints, but I don’t sweat it. You have to accept the things you can’t change, in every aspect of life.

    I pretty much do everything you laid out here. The nice thing is, you can pretty much have complete schedule flexibility with early deadlines because you’re not up against it. You can pretty much get the production end of things done at any time, so you can make your schedule mostly work the way you want.
  7. stix

    stix Active Member

    I will say this: Be careful about grinding yourself down with these deadlines.

    The early deadlines basically stretch out your news cycle all day. You can get production done in the morning, tweak stuff during the day then cover games and post stuff online at night. Basically, you can work at any time.

    For a awhile, I was working a few hours early, then a bit in the afternoon, then at night covering stuff. I was working about 8-9 hours each day, but spread out over the day.

    Fuck. That.

    That hampered my life immensely. Now, I work a normal shift. I try not to go more than 8 hours, unless it’s special circumstances. 8 is enough.

    I’m a one-man shop now. Some stuff I get to, some stuff I don’t. Can’t do everything. I no longer care nearly enough to try.
    SFIND, I Should Coco, Liut and 4 others like this.
  8. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    Yeah, when they cut your shop to one person in sports there's really no reason to care. The newspaper is probably counting on you to work 70 and get paid 40. But if you work your normal 40 all you can do is help the paper survive not thrive. The 24/7 news cycle has been the final stab in the back to reporters who now don't even get time to work on stories. It's put them up as quickly as possible with quality no concern.
  9. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Same here. My first year or two of being a one-man shop I nearly had a nervous breakdown. We were an afternoon paper, so I was putting out the section in the morning, covering games at night, and finding stuff to fill in the time in the afternoon. It was not uncommon to work 12-hour days, sometimes even 14 or 15 hours (and still get shit on by my ME at the time, but that's a whole other story). I was getting paid a shitload of overtime -- IIRC I had a couple of paychecks that were $2,000 before taxes; I rationalized everything by realizing it was helping us build a small nest egg, which it has -- but also worked 30+ days in a row in a couple of stretches.
    I remember coming back to the office from covering some game, around 9 p.m., realizing I still had three hours of work ahead of me plus an hour drive home, another early morning the next day, and pretty much breaking down. I'm not sure if that was exactly when it happened, it might have been later, but at some point I just decided I wasn't going to cover everything. I'd get the information and write roundups instead of hitting a game every Tuesday night. It just wasn't worth it to my mental health.
    SFIND, stix and Fredrick like this.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I also was a one-man shop at an afternoon paper, albeit in the late 90s. Can't imagine doing that today with the Web, and having a family besides. Typically, I'd come in around 6 a.m., work until 9 or 10 to put the paper out (deadline depended on whether we were a one-section or two-section paper that day). I'd go home, eat breakfast, take a snooze unless I had something personal to do, then do some more work. I'd either go to the office around 2 or 3 p.m.. I had four advance wire pages to do for our Saturday a.m. section (auto racing, golf, two random wire pages). At first, it was annoying, then I set up templates that basically meant just popping the stories on. I'd do a page on Tuesday, another on Wednesday, and two on Thursday. Once that was done, I'd either go to a game at 4 p.m. in the fall or spring, then come home around 6 or 7 for dinner. In the winter, I'd go home and eat dinner, then go to a game. Most times, unless it was a major game, I'd advise the home coach that I was just there to take some pics and ask him to call the game in later. The coaches just called in the games to our answering machine, which I'd do my roundups in the morning.

    I mostly did 40 hours just because they didn't want to pay OT, except around playoff time, . I was young and dumb, and didn't know that travel time counted as work time, so I likely put in 50 or 60 hours in those weeks, but didn't put as much OT down as I should have. But I made up for it in the summer time, which was maybe 25 or 30 hours a week of work.

    Friday nights were a pain, because I had a section to put out in the morning, and another one for the Saturday a.m. paper. Sometimes, people would want stuff covered Friday night, and they'd get pissed when I told them I had a paper to put out and couldn't go.

    Sometimes my wife and I reminisce about being young with no kids and how we both were struggling together in this little Podunk town. But I'm glad we've grown up and moved on to bigger and better things.
    stix likes this.
  11. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    They were lucky to have you. Very few professions aside from "journalism" have people that physically can do that much work day after day after day ....
  12. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I was always able to compartmentalize it pretty well. The worst of it was in spring, when we had baseball and softball games damn near every night and golf, tennis and track the rest of the time. Once we hit mid-May, though, everything stopped. Once all of our teams were out of the playoffs and spring football games were finished, that was it. So if I could make it through two months of hell, I got to take a nice vacation with the wife at the end of May and throttle back for a few weeks during the summer.
    Having that defined endpoint allowed me to set the goal of making it through, and knowing I was making a ton of money -- the overtime was the equivalent of a $10,000 per year raise -- was some damn fine motivation. If I'd have had to keep up that pace for 12 months a year, with no obvious end in sight, I don't know that I could have done it. I have a pretty good work ethic, but there does come a point where it overwhelms you and I reached that point once or twice.
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