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High School Sports Writer looking for Feedback/Helpful Criticism

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Anthony Y, Dec 17, 2019.

  1. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

    Hey Everyone, I’m a junior in high school and the editor of the sports beat of my school newspaper, the ‘ILS Royal Courier’.

    I have aspirations of going to school to study sports journalism and one day become a sports journalist.

    I want to be the best of the best, and I believe this forum could help me get there at a young age, im going to link my profile, which has all of my articles listed.

    Mind you this is my first year writing actual articles and they are sports related. I try to get inspiration from different university sports columns. Please let me know what you guys think, I appreciate all the feedback!

    Profile: Anthony Yero
    Anthony Yero

    Here’s some of my favorite articles:

    My first article: Coach Eddie Back For his 5th Year As Cross Country Coach

    My favorite: ILS Football: Building the Brotherhood

    Let me know what you think!
    jlee likes this.
  2. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

  3. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    Hi Anthony,

    Just posting something so you know you’re not being ignored. I’ll write up some thoughts today.

    Thanks for posting your work!

  4. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

    I appreciate it! Thank you
  5. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    Hi Anthony,

    I really admire you seeking feedback so early in your career. I hope I can be helpful with the tips below.

    1) Keep your themes simple and report the heck out of that narrow focus. Pick ONE angle and (here's the hard part) put the rest aside and don't mention them in the story at all.

    As an example, here are the main themes I noticed in the cross country article, along with questions you could answer if the story was just focused on one theme.

    Coach Eddie's philosophy, and how he applies it to the team
    -- What does he do differently than other coaches?
    -- What experiences led him to this approach? Are there times when he tried, failed and learned what NOT to do?
    -- Your lead sentence is about his fifth year coaching. Is there anything significant about that? Was he not expected to return?
    Gabriella Caputo's position as the "right hand person" and top runner
    -- What does being the "right hand person" entail? Is she the first to show up and the last to leave?
    -- What personality traits make her a leader? Get a specific example, an anecdote. (Parents can be great sources for this.)
    -- Why is she the top runner on the team? Victoria Morera has posted the best time in both of the team's meets this year. Is Caputo expected to break out in more important
    competitions later in the season? If so, why?
    The boys' team is raw and untested
    -- How is the coach looking for these hidden "gems"? Has he changed up practice to adjust to their experience?
    -- Two seniors and two juniors are listed in the story. Why did they decide to join the team? Are they more experienced in other sports? How does this compare?

    2) Show, don't tell. Write something specific instead of something general. The best questions in your interviews are always "Why?" and "How?" Ask them repeatedly to get specific examples about things like "building the brotherhood." If you sound like a toddler during an interview, that's not altogether a bad thing.

    3) Don't omit facts because they are negative. That doesn't mean you need to be negative or cynical in your approach, but be truthful. If the football team went 4-7, and your story is a recap of the season, write about the losses, too.

    4) Read everything you can, and read critically. Ask yourself why authors phrased things the way they did, or why they highlighted the facts they did.

    5) Never stop writing, ever. Even if you leave journalism far behind and end up changing the world by inventing cold fusion or something, never stop writing.

    Thanks again, and best of luck!

  6. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

    I appreciate the feedback jlee! I really want to make a future out of journalism and I’m glad I can get feedback from somebody with experience. I’ll continue to post my articles on here and hopefully I can get some more feedback.

    Best regards
    jlee likes this.
  7. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

    One Question. When reporting on game recaps (basketball game/football game last night), what is it that I should focus on? Should it be on a specific emphasis such as the defense, how well the offense performed, X factor, top scorer? Sometimes I find myself just writing out the stats and not really explaining what it means.

    That could lead to another question. Is that how recaps are supposed to be? Just short and sweet to inform on what happened, or am I able to go a little bit into detail on the why what happened is important?

    Thank you for the feedback.
    jlee likes this.
  8. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    Pick a specific emphasis. It could be a player, the defense/offense, a key sequence of events, or a bigger result beyond the game (like the team clinching a spot in the playoffs). There’s no single correct answer; you just have to learn by experience. Learning what to write about, and what you don’t need to write, is the hardest part of the job.

    There are likely some key facts that may be important but don’t fit in your narrative. It’s OK to list these at the end, but be choosy about them.

    Glad to hear you’re self-evaluating when you say you feel like you’re listing stats without an explanation. Definitely avoid doing that. If you think something is important, but don’t know, ask someone who would know!
  9. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    Why the event is important should be in every story you write.

    Not every game story is going to carry the same weight. Sometimes — like when the team clinches a playoff spot, or a senior has a standout performance in his/her final home game — you’ll want to lead with the explanation of why it is important and make that your main focus.

    Sometimes, there’s not a lot to explain. In this case, short and sweet is appropriate. It’s as easy as writing “ILS is 12-6 on the season after the loss, and they remain at fourth place in the conference.” Or “ILS kept a four-game winning streak alive a with the victory over crosstown rival Jimbo County.”
  10. jlee

    jlee Well-Known Member

    These are great questions. Excited to see your work in the future!
  11. Anthony Y

    Anthony Y New Member

    Thank you! I’ll keep you updated
    jlee likes this.
  12. justgladtobehere

    justgladtobehere Well-Known Member

    About the ILS article. I am not a journalist, but I have to write a lot.

    You repeat a lot of information in this quotation. "Finished their season" and "ended the season" are in consecutive sentences. The first bullet point repeats what was in the second sentence and you go on to explain some of your bullet points.

    I think the thing that would help the most is more structure. The article is a season recap, but you never introduce it as such. A good structure would be for the bullet points to be an introduction to the different sections or skip the bullet points. You have some good information and differences in the competition is a good insight. It needs to be tighter.

    At the end it is a little rah-rah. I would not use the word 'will' to describe the team next year.
    jlee likes this.
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