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Job Opening - Sports Reporter - Cedar Park, Texas

Discussion in 'Journalism Jobs' started by scottwcoleman, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. scottwcoleman

    scottwcoleman New Member

    The Hill Country News, an award-winning weekly newspaper in northwest suburban Austin, Texas, is looking for a sports reporter. The job is 80% preps, covering the Leander Independent School District's six highly competitive high schools. The Spurs D-League team and the Dallas Stars' AHL team both play in Cedar Park. This is a one-person sports department and this position coordinates all coverage for weekly print and is expected to produce new content daily via digital and social platforms. Email resume and clips to jobs@granitepublications.com
  2. scottwcoleman

    scottwcoleman New Member

    Now for the skinny:

    I held this job, or a version of it anyway, from 2011-2014 and I'm posting here to help the folks at the paper out. Things were done a bit differently when I had the job, but times have continued to change. I know the market, the people and the current situation pretty well, so feel free to PM me if what I post here doesn't answer all of your questions.
    • This is essentially a sports editor job, but since it's a free distribution weekly (albeit the only local product covering the area) and there's not a lot of money, the editor/publisher is calling it a sports reporter.
    • This is a fast-growing mid-to-upper income suburban area. One of the six schools opened this year. Three of the schools just moved up to 6A (Texas' largest classification). Two are 5A, and the new school will likely be 5A with the 2018-19 realignment. Cost of living within the area ranges from really expensive to almost affordable if you live further away from the city. It's a 25-minute drive from the newspaper's office to downtown Austin and even closer from the edge of the coverage area.
    • Prep sports here are among the most competitive in the state. Four of the high schools have reached the state semifinals in football in the last four years. Cedar Park won two titles and lost another title game in that time. Vandegrift, Vista Ridge and Leander HS all play in the same district as Lake Travis and Westlake. The schools are competitive in pretty much everything, and have recent titles in almost every sport. Vandegrift is a back-to-back Lone Star Cup winner and three of the schools swept the medals positions in UIL marching band. So, if you want to cover top-tier programs, this is a pretty good spot.
    • You can work the pro teams and use that as a chance to get some experience covering the NBA and NHL franchises. There are also opportunities to touch on Big 12 and even SEC sports, and they're pretty open about giving you the chance to get that experience as long as the preps coverage is the primary focus and is handled well.
    • There is a stringer budget, but it isn't a lot outside of football season. The publisher really wants someone who has photography skills as well.
    • I'm told pay will be around $25K.
    • The current person is leaving because he just got a job as an NHL beat writer. His job starts in two weeks, so there is a lot of urgency to get this job filled quickly.
  3. eclapt44

    eclapt44 Member

    25K to be a one-man band AND I get to shoot photos! Sign me up!
    cjericho likes this.
  4. scottwcoleman

    scottwcoleman New Member

    True enough. Pay is NOT a strong point of this job, but that's why I made sure to confirm and post it.

    To be fair, though, you're looking at 4 broadsheet pages a week in football season and 2-3 in the remainder of the school year with a pretty light summers. A key challenge is just prioritizing what can be done with the space available. But the sports person makes those choices since it's a very relaxed environment with no one looking over your shoulder.
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Another challenge I see is all those large-classification high schools playing on Friday night with just one reporter (and maybe a stringer).

    Granted, it's a weekly, but you'll have to be a good photographer AND fast driver to try and shoot a couple games each week ... then scramble to get results/stats/details.

    Good luck to whomever gets this challenging gig.
  6. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Agreed. Almost calls for lots of quick hits for photos on Fridays and lots of phone work, or, since it's a weekly, coverage other than a gamer.

    And tip of the hat to the OP for giving us the lay of the land.
  7. Twirling Time

    Twirling Time Well-Known Member

    Leander sounds like a Frisco starter kit with all the new high schools. Frisco ISD has 8 fully open, a ninth that just opened with freshmen, and they're building a 10th right now. Right next door is megaschool Allen.
  8. Bronco77

    Bronco77 Well-Known Member

    Is there much competition with the Austin American-Statesman? And, because it is now printed off site, doesn't the American-Statesman have super-early deadlines that prevent it from doing much live coverage?
  9. scottwcoleman

    scottwcoleman New Member

    There is certainly some competition. However, the Statesman just dropped another FT staffer from its preps beat and uses mostly stringers to cover 60+ schools. Their high school football game coverage is digital on Friday night and shows up in print on Sunday and Monday. They do a good job with features. Outside of football, most of their preps coverage is in a notebook-style recap plus a few features weekly spread out among their entire coverage area. The Texas Longhorns are their bread and butter.

    Some history: The Statesman operates a group of community weeklies around Austin located in Lakeway (Lake Travis HS), Westlake, Round Rock, Pflugerville and Bastrop. They used to own one in Cedar Park. They shut the doors on it about 3 years ago and then rolled all of their other weeklies into the Statesman as in-paper sections distributed to the existing Statesman subscribers in those areas and online with their e-edition. About half the content of those in-paper sections that serve as the current community weeklies consists of Statesman metro stories. The ads are mostly pickups and group buys from the Statesman proper. HCN is profitable and growing, and there's a real chance to own the coverage in that market.
  10. steveu

    steveu Well-Known Member

    Too low a salary for me (has to do with years in the business, nothing else) but could be a very good job for someone just starting out their career. And Texas has no income tax, so your money could go a little farther.

    Scott, what's Austin's cost of living like? How are apartments priced and are there some less expensive areas?
  11. scottwcoleman

    scottwcoleman New Member

    Cost of living is probably the worst thing about the job, really. One bedroom apartments in NW Austin / Cedar Park are $900-1100 on average. There will be some available at lower cost, but either come with a bit of a drive or extra door locks. Round Rock or Pflugerville would be where I'd check for an apartment. Some can be found for $750-800 in that area, but Austin in general is still a pretty expensive place to live.
  12. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    You MIGHT be able to afford a $750/month place on that salary, if you don't have any other debts or huge monthly expenses. That's 36 percent of your salary going to rent alone, with no regard to utilities.
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