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Future of weekly sports

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Print an, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. Print an

    Print an New Member

    What is the future of a weekly sports section? What should the focus be on? I used to be OK with reporting the score from 5 days ago, prior to websites and social media. But now I don't know. Should the angle be more on player/team features, with more personalized stories on the gamers.

    At the same time, my SE just ran a centerpiece about a kid scoring 1,000 points. Rather than make this an individual story, he combined it with the game story. The lead and the end of the story focused on the kid scoring 1,000 points. His argument was that he ran a feature on the kid for the basketball preview. I disagree. I felt they should have been separate stories.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. Liut

    Liut Active Member

    I haven't worked at a daily but I read a couple regularly. At both, everything seems to be looking back - in long, boring detail. I could almost swear at one, somebody gets a tape of a game from the coach and just writes a tedious, play-by-play account off of it.
    I would prefer both papers to advance more. During football season, the papers come out on Wednesday and there are never previews of the upcoming game - just the aforementioned tedium of old news.

    In regard to your SE, I've never done a centerpiece about a kid scoring 1,000 points but if I was considering whether or not to do it, the fact the player had already been profiled in the tab would not be the deciding factor. It's either centerpiece news or not, IMHO.

    Interesting topic. Thanks. Hope we get more thoughts.
  3. Rhody31

    Rhody31 Well-Known Member

    Depends on your area.
    My first football at my old shop, I started putting football gamers up online after the game with a preview/feature for the next week's game in print. Readers lost their fucking minds. They wanted their gamers and after about three weeks, management - which panicked every time a reader called to complain about anything - forced us back to the old way.
    I always treated every game story as some sort of feature. It wasn't so much about the game as much as it was an update on how the season was going to that point. Once we started Facebook, we'd put updates there and when I finally figured out twitter, started tweeting out scores. If at all possible, you should be tweeting scores any time there's an event. Here in RI it's not hard because the weekly reporters check the state's site or wait for the ProJo to post them.
    As for the 1,000-point scorer, it depends on space. Some weeks we'd run it as a separate story if we needed to fill space (we had five weeklies and one twice-weekly). If that was the case, we'd run it as the sidebar if it was a big game, or the main with the gamer as a sidebar.
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    There's room for a weekly section. You just have to write the right way for it. Take a more magazine-like approach than a newspaper approach.
    If you're covering a game on Monday and publishing on Wednesday, don't write the same way as if you're covering it for the next day. Find a feature angle (like the 1,000-point scorer), or take it as a trend piece and a lookahead to the next one (Podunk High has won five of its last six and is heading into a crucial stretch of division games, for example, or Player A had his third straight 20-point game).

    I'd even suggest writing two stories -- the next-day one for the web and the second-day feature/lookahead for print. We're a daily, but we do that all the time during football season. We'll knock out the quick and dirty traditional 15-inch gamer on deadline on Friday night, then write a follow-up or feature for Monday or Tuesday. You might end up with some rehash, but the second-day story lets you dive into a key point or angle you didn't have time to explore on game night. And if you go into it thinking you'll need to write two stories, you'll be fine. It's usually just one or two more questions you need to ask, or one more two-minute interview to do to generate enough material.

    With your 1,000-point scorer dilemma, both you and your SE are right. The kid scoring his 1,000th point was likely the highlight of the game, so it should have been the lead and played up in the game story. However, since you did write about him already this season you don't need to write another long feature about him off the game. You can get in, talk about his accomplishment and his reaction for a few hundred words, then wrap it up with what happened the rest of the game. He's the star of the game, gets his due for his accomplishment, and it has the feel of a feature without actually being one.
    Basketball teams play a lot of games. Anything you can do to break up the monotony of the season and take a different angle on a gamer should be embraced with open arms.
  5. Print an

    Print an New Member

    All very good points. I agree it depends on your area of how they look at sports. Is it a priority or not? Unfortunately, our high school teams struggle and we are finding out that we don't have much of an audience for sports.
  6. Liut

    Liut Active Member

    Then all the more reason to do those features and look for different angles on the gamers. Another thought: does your town/community have any golf tournaments? Is there a high level of interest in hunting and fishing? Just wondering.
  7. murphyc

    murphyc Well-Known Member

    That's pretty similar to what I did at my last shop. After the game, I would put up an immediate post on Facebook and Twitter with the score of the game I covered, the score of my co-worker's game if I had it and whatever other local scores I could find in a quick search. Then a super short recap from me and my co-worker on our games for the website, with links on Facebook and Twitter. Later that night or the next day pretty much a regular recap for the games we covered, reminding readers to get the full story in the next print issue. The story in the print issue, by the end, was a hybrid full recap/preview of the next game since our paper came out on Friday. Something worth featuring would have been a sidebar.
    At my current shop, we only have one team to cover. My co-worker covers the game and I'll usually post something to Facebook and Twitter that night for him. He then does a full recap in the print issue, plus a separate preview story. From time to time he'll do a JV gamer as well.
  8. Mauve_Avenger

    Mauve_Avenger Member

    I work at a twice-weekly, and we use online primarily for game coverage the night after a game. That gets any question out of the way about getting the score up. Then our print edition usually is reserved for feature coverage first. Game stories get pushed to the inside if there is room.
  9. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    Even at a daily, finding a different angle than the tired 15-inch gamer is a good idea. At the end of any season -- prep, juco, college -- burnout is a real concern, especially with basketball. When I covered juco basketball, we usually has at least one area kid on the men's and women's team.

    For one men's gamer, I made it about the local kid who didn't play much.

    Tom Smith didn't score 19 points to lead the local juco to victory, Somebody Else did. Tom Jones didn't grab 12 rebounds, Somebody Else did. Tom Jones didn't block five shots, Somebody Else did.

    What he did do was play -- a lot.

    The first seven or eight inches were about this kid, and the rest of the story was an easy of what happened. Knocked that one out in about 20 minutes, and it gave the readers something more interesting than a regular gamer.
  10. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Weekly newspapers, in the right markets, still have a very bright future.
    Be relentlessly local and pursue much of what has been suggested here.
  11. Liut

    Liut Active Member

  12. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    How many pages do you have?

    Local only on the sports?

    How many high schools do you cover?


    You got to have high school standings, stat leaders, maybe a schedule (big maybe).

    You have to have 1-2 inches on each game played that you get in a round up forum. Divide the sports and the days.

    Then add features that you have time and space for. You should have at least one feature per edition.

    Local kids in college - the SID round up.
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