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frustrated about role

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spikechiquet, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    OK, here is the "small guy" complaining...

    I work at a bi-weekly (Weds and Saturday mornings) shop that for the most part is supposed to be a one-man gang (although I have a part-timer that helps a lot). We are local sports news only (no wires).

    In the spring and summer months, we go to bed at 5 p.m., fall and winter sports season, it's midnight/1a.m. on Tuesday and Fridays.

    Of course, most playoff games in the spring happen AFTER 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday. Meaning: I am always waaaaay behind in getting sports news out. I also rarely get more than 3 tiny pages to fit all my info in (we cover 13 schools)...there are three major metro dailies, a few smaller metro weeklies and a rural Monday-Friday paper in the region. So they get the gist of the game story info out the next day while I wait.

    So then, what the hell is my role?
    If I go to a baseball/softball playoff game Friday night and write a game story with pictures, it won't be out for five days (hardly worth the effort), but if I don't run the info, it seems like I am not doing my job.

    Features are a rarity because of space concerns (after running game story stuff and a few pics, I am usually spent on space), but I get the occasional "Jimmy, who graduated four years ago is doing this now in sports", or "HS Sports Stud Johnny is heading to small-school because he really isn't good enough to go play D-I" type-stuff...and that's it...

    So again, What the hell is my role?

    Do I go to games and write game stories, knowing it will be an afterthought?
    I can't write a preview, the game to get to the next game hasn't been played yet by the time I print.
    I don't want to make the sports section too featury, might as well give it to the Lifestyles people then...

    Football and Basketball season aren't too bad since we go to bed late enough so that I can get the info out in time for the next day, but this spring crap is bothering me.

  2. Riddick

    Riddick Active Member

    You need to treat your job like it's a daily. Still go to the games, still make the contacts, still treat the job very seriously. You treat the job like it's more than just a bi-weekly, and you'll find better stories that will help you move up the ladder. You need to come up with the features that the daily papers wish they had. IMO, being at a bi-weekly is the ultimate version of paying your dues, because you have to work twice as hard to get noticed. But it will pay off in the end.
  3. Platyrhynchos

    Platyrhynchos Active Member

    I'm in the same boat, but on a different deck.
    We're a once-a-week weekly (duh), but are in BFE that the only time a daily paper covers one of the three high schools we do is when one of three said high schools plays a school in said daily's town.
    So, we're pretty much the voice for our high schools, and even though in the winter some BB games are eight days old (we print at 6 p.m. Tuesday, and h.s. BB games are played Tuesday and Friday nights) it's the only game account out there for those who did not attend the game.
    Feature possibilities are endless, and there is ample time to give them some polish.
  4. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    What he said. I'm in the ocean with you, but not in the same boat, 11:15 p.m. deadlines and I treat my job like it's a daily, if you do that your readers will appreciate it. This spring four of my six schools made the state playoffs. First round was on Tuesday night. I covered one game, had the other three coaches call me (I arranged this in advance), plus I had a photo correspondent at the other three games I didn't cover. The next morning I had a gamer with all four coaches takes on the game and photos from all four games. The state's largest newspapers, which is just 12 miles away had only two of the four games in the next day's paper that was delievered to the town I work in. Perhaps a later edition had them all, I don't know. But they had no coaches quotes or photos from the two local games. I got 20+ e-mails from our readers on Wednesday morning pointing out I kicked the larger paper's ass on the playoff coverage! Take a daily mentality and readers will notice.
  5. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    FYI, I do write game stories right now...I was just told by my publisher that it wasn't worth it (he being the former SE), hence why I should just worry about getting pictures taken at games and just run a game wrapup.
    I tend to agree with him to a point. But when it's the playoffs...I think game stories are more important.
    Like today, a local school won's its first-ever district crown in any sport...very noteworthy and I think it will be a good story that is mainly a feature with some game story elements.
    I guess Riddick, if I was looking, I would have that mentality. The paper is more of an extra full-time job. I am a radio play-by-play guy at heart. And like I said, after getting through game wraps of area games, there isn't much room left for me to write any features.
  6. beanpole

    beanpole Member

    You can carve your own niche by doing features and enterprise. I'd focus on that, and cut your gamers to a short recap.
  7. FuturaBold

    FuturaBold Member

    With 13 schools and such little space, this would be my advice as well ... hit the highlights from all the sports and teams, and save your best writing for clips that will get you noticed ... then when playoffs or huge games come around, go all out with game coverage, lots of photos, etc. ...
  8. sartysnopes

    sartysnopes Member

    Do you have a Web site?
  9. sportshack06

    sportshack06 Member

    If your paper has a website...maybe post gamers on there? If not, maybe something your management can look at. You could put the plug in there. You'd make money off the venture with ad revenue (web hosting is not expensive and almost every web host now comes with a blog/news publishing feature, which requires little knowledge - if any - of HTML or web design).

    I'd focus a lot on features, run small recaps. Run out of features on athletes, do features on the conference(s). You could find a good mix of stuff to work off of with 100+ editions a year.
  10. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Well if you are really frustrated, you should get your resume together and look for a new job. I hear the Review-Leader is hiring, though you better be good because you'd have some very large shoes to fill as they just lost one of the best young writer's in the world to the Union-Tribune........
  11. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    A very crappy one, it's ugly, very hard to manage, but we are hoping this summer to get a good one made. As of now, it's free and there is no ads on it, so I would be giving away the milk for free if I posted extra stuff on-line.
  12. forever_town

    forever_town Well-Known Member

    I would recommend the steps suggested earlier: Focus on more enterprise pieces and features and stray a little bit away from straight-up gamers. You may also consider taking a game story and approaching it a little differently: Second day lede, analysis, etc. as opposed to a straight-up game story.

    I would also recommend posting gamers on your Web site and then teasing the Web content in your print edition. If you have a graphics artist/magician, he or she can create an attractive-looking teaser plug. One thing I've had done at my shop is to do a plug along the lines of: "Missing something? We covered [game], but it was only available to our online readers." Then I put in our Web site's URL and added: "We're more than a weekly newspaper."

    Treat your pub as a daily, but don't try to fight the dailies head on. You can win a war against them, but you have to fight an insurgency campaign to do it.
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