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I need a fix

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by NISB35, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. NISB35

    NISB35 New Member

    *Boring autobiography warning*

    I am what you would call "one of those people," an Online reporter. I have a high school sports website that I run from my basement office (I'm prepared to take any low blow after just typing that), with a couple of contributing freelancers throughout my part of the state. I have a real non-journalism job that keeps me away from covering events as periodically as other writers. Plus, the time is not right for me to relocate right now, which sucks because the local college I go to (I am 21) does not offer journalism classes.

    I've been getting by with little formal training in the past six years. Sure, my grammar needs a ton of work and such. I guess what I am concerned about is that I don't know how long I can keep doing this until I lose all sense of writing as a whole. Updating the site has been a pain since I am not able to get any fresh content put up - so I've been switching to writing stories that can still be considered "fresh" after a week or two. Even that has been difficult to do.

    Early last month, I finally got sick and tired of writing gamers, and wanted to focus on just 'sports news.' Sports news meaning things like reporting from school board meetings that have an issue on the table that has to do with sports (there is a possible football co-op to be voted on later this month).

    Here is my website:

    Feel free to critique the writings and such. I'll be happy to take in advice as well.

    But here are some questions I have:

    1. How long can you be absent from the writing scene before it is too late to come back in top form?

    2. One of the biggest problems I've been having is trying to balance what to write against what not to write. Sometimes I have the feeling that I'm acting like a pro sports writer when I'm just at a high school volleyball meet. Then there are a lot of issues in my state (Illinois) that I get angry about, and it seems like the columns I write out are degrading. One of the things I sometimes ge that hurts me is, "You are hurting the children." How do I get image problems off my mind?

    3. I may not be full-time staff writer material right now, but is it possible to keep doing what I am doing and still be considered a sportswriter?

    I'm not sure if this board is the right one for fixing an overall image problem, but it was the closest that I know of. Thanks.
  2. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    My first impression of your site is that you need to find someone (professionally or a friend) who knows how to design Web sites. Nowadays a lot of a company or products reputation comes from how the Web site works. I know I've made decisions on who to call for services based on the professionalism of their Web site. I don't see it with yours.

    The content is definitely there. No doubt. Q&As are solid as are the some of your links and features. But, I just clicked on the "Milestone" page and got a headache.

    It honestly looks like the most basic knowledge of HTML was used and this was some high school class project.

    If you want to get serious, get serious with the Web site design.

    On to your questions:

    1. It depends on how much you read. And when I say read, I mean you break down things you read and take mental notes on how the writer presented his copy. If you do that, when it comes time to write your own story, no matter how long it has been, the rust won't be as thick.

    2. This is tricky when it comes to high school sports. I think all of us can agree you can't write columns ripping kid for having a bad game. Of course you have to mention little Johnny Bumfuck threw four interceptions, but when people get perturbed is when a writer writes a column ripping said kid.

    Now, if there are issues in your state, of course you can write about them. The Illinois' High School Athletic Association is free game as well as conferences, schools or even coaches.

    What you have to keep in mind, is those athletes competing are JUST HIGH SCHOOL KIDS.

    3. With the Internet nowadays, what is a sports writer? Is it Wll Leitch at Deadspin? Is it the ever decreasing importance of the local fishwrap columnist? A sports beat writer? John Feinstein? You? Me?

    I'm not sure there is a set definition of a sports writer. Hell, most people outside the business think sports writers hope to be on SportsCenter or PTI one day. Uh, no.

    But if you writer for a Web site, write about sports for a Web site and are learning the skills of reporting and writing, sure, you're a sports writer.
  3. NISB35

    NISB35 New Member

    dawgpounddiehard, I appreciate your input.

    That is a good point. I've been trying to minimize my spending while running the site, and only recently did it ever come to me that in order to improve on it, I need to dish out some more $$. With college and dwelling expenses, that's why I've done so little. I considered going from GeoCities basic to the highest GeoCities package, but even that won't work. I've also tried to stay away from "clone" websites, where my site would look like others in a website stable (ex. Prep Sports Online, JockWire) because I don't feel there is anything unique. However, I once considered Rivals.com. I think I'll wait on that.

    BTW - I began the site when I was a junior in high school, so maybe then it looked like a high school project :) .

    I assume it was the page design that gave you the headache. That will be fixed. But if it was the concept that was annoying, I'm all ears as to why it's not a good idea. I can see why, though. They also make for some story ideas, maybe not good story ideas, but still story ideas.

    That's been something I've been trying to do. There are quite a few newspapers in my coverage area and I don't always get to read every story.

    This is the biggest problem for me when it comes to writing columns. I think I'm trying to be more like Around the Horn panelists than Grandpa Columnist. Time to reverse that. Not once have I wrote about a Johnny Bumfuck situation in a column.

    Anyone from Illinois who writes about (and shoots photos for) preps knows that the IHSA is one strange organization. That's a big punching bag. I just don't know when I've crossed that line between vocal, and just plain annoying.

    Again, dawgpounddiehard, I appreciate your input.
    Anyone else feel free to zap away.
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