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How should we cover HS basketball?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by newspaperman, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. newspaperman

    newspaperman Member

    I'm an one-man sports machine at my paper, covering 12 schools (three colleges) and I'm sorry, but I refuse to sit and watch four hours of basketball games (boys and girls). How does everyone else cover prep basketball - with roundups or occasional features or game stories? If you cover basketball game stories, who's actually reading what happened in the third and fourth quarter. People are only concerned with the final score and boxscore, right?
  2. BujuBanton

    BujuBanton Member

    I'm in the same boat. My plan is to do a gamer on one or the other when the schools play a b/g double header. Road games and others we don't get to are rounded up.

    And what happens in the third and fourth quarter is pretty crucial - by the way.
  3. newspaperman

    newspaperman Member

    Not trying to be funny, but the people in my area aren't the most intelligent people in the world. They like their news short and to the point. And the thing is, basketball isn't like football where there is a build-up to the game. Ask a person on the street who one of the 12 schools played last week in basketball and chances are they couldn't tell you. They just want to know the final score and who did what in the game. But like I said, maybe that's just my area.
  4. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    If you are going that route, it is worth consideration to just forgo gamers entirely, write roundups and do features stories.
  5. CYowSMR

    CYowSMR Member

    Roundup, features and maybe one game per week boys and girls for a decent gamer.
  6. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    Are you a daily paper or a weekly?
    It does make a difference, and a huge one.
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    At a daily, you have to run gamers. How many pages do you have per edition? Readers do care if a story is just the score. We get call from parents complaining about roundups, explaining to callers that two reporters can only cover so much, and someone has to design pages.
  8. CYowSMR

    CYowSMR Member

    With 12 HS, he will have around 6-7 games per night (Usually Tues and Fri). Plus some places still have HS football going, and with colleges too? Geez. You'll need some correspondents to do more than one gamer.
  9. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    I think you get a gamer a night, especially if you're a daily. And even if you're weekly, you can toss that stuff on the web.

    But the big key will be getting your basketball coaches to cooperate with you on submitting their box scores for games you don't staff.

    Pause here for maniacal laughter.

    In some places that's easier said than done. But if you get good cooperation you'll be fine. You round up the games you don't staff, and then do your best to talk to as many coaches as you can, even if it's the next day. Go out and hit a practice or two and bang out a notebook -- or the notebook's online cousin, the blog.

    At my place, our coverage area is around 30 schools, so there's no way we can see everyone, but we keep an eye on box scores of games we didn't staff, try to look for something interesting and get to it when and how we can. If you come with a steady stream of material, even on non-game days, you'll keep the cranky parents pacified. If you're a daily and you have Tuesday games, there's game coverage for the Wednesday paper and a notebook of second-day stuff from Tuesday's games for the Thursday paper, and then maybe another notebook of previews of the top games of the night for Friday.
  10. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    If you are a true one-man shop, you should do one gamer a night and do phone roundups for the rest.

    If you have the latitude (i.e. the budget) to use stringers, do two gamers a night. However you divide up your game assignments, make sure boys and girls games are split fairly equally (you'll catch holy hell if they aren't).

    However you get photos, whether it's a staff photog, a stringer or you shooting your own art, use the "grand tour" approach: get to one game early, snap some shots in the first quarter, rocket to your next nearest game site and get shots from the fourth quarter. You have to become adept at being able to walk into the gym with 3:00 left in the game, get a half-dozen shots, grab the boxscore, talk to both coaches and a few players, and bang out a game story.

    And yes, it all depends on getting the coaches to cooperate and call in (or fax or e-mail). If they don't, they don't get in the paper.

    Especially important you have to explain to all coaches they should call in even if they see you in the gym taking pictures early in the game -- you have 11 other schools to get covered and you have to hit other locations. You're not just leaving because their team sucks or you like other coaches better. (In fact, you may, but they don't have to know that.)

    When I was doing the one-man shop deal I told the coaches, "Unless I specifically tell you after a game that you don't have to call, you do."

    If a coach starts pulling a prima-donna act, getting an attitude because he/she thinks you should have to sit and watch every second of their magnificent game, don't waste too much time arguing with them about it. If one or two phone calls don't solve the problem, go straight up the food chain to the AD, then to the school superintendent (get your ME on board before you make that leap). If they want their school covered, they have to provide minimal cooperation.
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I think we will go to a "Game of the Night" format this year with everything else in a roundup. Just don't have enough bodies to go to every game and still get the section out. That one person who would staff a second game can be in the office and do 5-6 phoners. Better use of limited manpower.
  12. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    Basketball season starts here the first week of November, but with football playoffs going on through the first weekend in December and then All-Area football that I work on until the week of Christmas, hoops is pretty low profile. I might do one or two early-season basketball gamers, but we really don't focus on hoops until after the holidays.

    One of the big schools here hosts a three-day holiday classic between Christmas and New Year's, and that's usually when we start cranking up the basketball coverage. In the interim, we take calls and run summaries on the agate page.

    Frankly, that's about all people here really care about. Basketball here has about a six-week window when there is a fair amount of interest, but by mid-February, all anyone around here wants to read about is baseball.
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