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Giving feedback to writers

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Dan Robrish, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. Dan Robrish

    Dan Robrish New Member

    Hello, all --

    I started a small-town weekly paper in February. I'm mostly a law-and-politics geek and know little about sports, but I know how important they are to readers, so I've been giving extensive coverage to the high school teams.

    I have two stringers, but only one has much experience, and that guy told me he won't have time to write for me after the football season ends. The other guy has been seeking feedback on his writing -- I've been able to help him with general news writing critique, but nothing that's specific to sports. I lent him my copy of the Associated Press Sports Writing Handbook, which is at least better than nothing.

    Got any advice for an editor who isn't a sports fan dealing with stringers who are new to sportswriting?


    Dan Robrish
    The Elizabethtown (Pa.) Advocate
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Read what larger papers, especially in your region, are doing with game stories. With the large papers, you'll get a better sense of the right way to write a gamer.
  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Remind them that not every game is a titanic struggle between good and evil, where one side played its heart out and the other gave a good effort.
    In other words, make sure they don't try to do to much. One of the biggest mistakes newcomers to sports make is trying to turn every gamer into some sort of deep, award-winning piece. It doesn't have to be. You can go beyond the basic play-by-play and give some analysis without making it the most important story in the history of the world.
  4. swamp trash

    swamp trash Guest

    Readers need a story to grab on to. Take that story and run with it - lead with it, reference back to it a time or two during the story, and close with it.

    It's not nearly as hard as it sounds....I've never covered a game that I couldn't find at least one somewhat interesting angle to lead with.

    Tell him not to be stat-happy. Keep play-by-play minimal - stick to only the most pivotal moments. Anything more than a graph of play-by-play is pushing it.
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Maybe it's just differing philosophies, but I couldn't disagree with this more. People who read a game story, especially high school gamers, want to know what happened. You don't have to recap every play from an 11-play scoring drive, or every scoring play from a 35-31 game, but sometimes you do have to go into that recap mode for a few graphs to set something up or talk about a key point in the game.

    In this case, for a weekly, the writers should go more toward your line of thinking. Give more analysis, take a feature angle, or go with a "what it means" approach more than you would if you were writing on deadline on Friday night. Just don't forget to tell the reader what happened, too. There is a balance to be struck there.
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