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Letter from a parent that makes me want to quit on the spot, now.

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Brain of J, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    My point was, thinking about the letter, it's probably from one players parents and why does he/she think the stats in the paper are wrong? Probably by asking the stat person after a game and seeing these don't match up with the ones in print. Others had already offered stat help, all I was saying with his photography duties, seek help on stats until you can keep your own accurately while shooting photos, which is tough to do.
  2. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Agreed. Completely.
  3. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    Don't dismiss the letter. If you dismiss it, you don't learn from it, and you're not motivated by it, and that's the way you ought to use it. If you're shooting and writing -- well, that's a tall order for anybody. Shoot the first half of the game and concentrate on the writing/stats for the second half -- that's usually when the game is decided or when the key play happens.
    Pick up the stats from someone in an official capacity after the game, get comments from the coaches and key players based on what you've seen.
    Don't be afraid to have them take you though the elements of a key play slowly -- it's important that you get it right. If you don't have a photo that isn't blurry -- don't use a photo. Sure it's a pain and it might hurt your layout, but it's better than running something of subpar quality, especially when you're trying to get your credibility back.

    As for the letter writer, if its signed, I'd call them up and acknowledge that you received their letter, you appreciate their comments/criticisms, and to bear with you, you're trying to get better and to please stick with you.
    Most people aren't that mean spirited that they want to run you out of the business -- they're venting. If they knew it disturbed you that much, they wouldn't have come down that hard.
    If you find you're juggling too much -- well maybe there's a parent with a camera and some photography skill who would submit a photo for free, or for a photo credit. That would allow you to concentrate on game coverage exclusively.
    Bottom line, when you're rebuilding your credibility in your newspaper and your confidence as a writer, is to make sure you get things right -- the names, the score and the key stats. Don't be too fancy with language and terminology that you don't understand.
    And don't be afraid to ask. This board is a wonderful resource. I discovered that myself this past weekend. I was the one who started the thread "Having never covered volleyball before..." and the stuff I got back was invaluable in making the whole experience less intimidating to cover. I knocked off a 20 inch story that won't win a Pulitzer, but covers the essential elements and acknowledges that a big game happened and this is what happened.
    Most important -- hang in there. Keep that letter in a special place and use it as inspiration. Read it again in a week, a month, a year, and recognize how far you've come from a low point in your career.
    Don't quit. Get better.
  4. There's just one thing I don't understand regarding the stats, and forgive me if it's been discussed. I'm assuming Brain of J works for a weekly or bi- or tri-weekly. So why not just copy stuff out of the scorer's book after the game? It's not like you're under the pressure of a hard deadline.
  5. A bit off-topic, but I'm confused about the asking the coach for stats part. Where I'm at, the newspaper reporter's stats are the team stats. The vast majority of coaches do not keep stats. They go off our box scores. Is that not the norm?

    Often, coaches ask me after a game for someone's stats. If it's early, I'll tabulate them. If it's late, I'll explain I'm on deadline and respectfully ask the coach to either wait for after I finish the article and a call from me or just wait for Saturday's paper. They never give me problems with that.
  6. donaugust

    donaugust Member

    One other thing which I haven't seen mentioned as I've skimmed the very helpful suggestions:

    If you're having trouble with photos, shoot a couple of candids -- kids standing next to the coach while someone else is shooting a free throw, a shot of the huddle during a time out, a kid at the top of the key directing traffic.

    At the end of the night, you'll be guaranteed you'll have a couple of shots that should be in focus that you can use if all else failed photographically.
  7. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    It depends on who keeps the stats. At the school I cover, there's an official scorekeeper for the state. Nice, older guy who knows his shit. Sitting next to him is another state official, and both treat the situation as life-and-death.

    Then, there's the team scorekeeper(s), a group of two or three girls with a shitty laptop that spend most of their time at the media table texting guys.

    I've seen the head coach come to the table, grab the print-out from the girls, walk with me back to his office and throw the sheet away without looking at it, saying "What have you got?"

    Now, although I keep most of my own, which stats should I consult? Hmm? ;D
  8. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i'm sorry your shop sucks so bad dog. never seen someone as bitter as you with so little experience. if you're as good as you say you are, you should dust off the resume and leave your shop now.
  9. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    Yeah, in my neck of the woods coaches don't have the first clue as to how to do stats. Nobody does them while a game is in progress. Maybe three or four coaches out of 20 take stats off of game film, but they get that to you running two or nearly three weeks after the fact. It's good for season to date stats, but doesn't help you at all with gamers.

    Gosh I hate fucking gamers. So boring to write and read.

    At my last shop, the one that canned me because they did away with sports altogether, I sometimes put gamers on the internet site, and reserved the print edition for features. Of course, that pissed people off. They bitched "why can't you put the gamers in the paper??"

    Well, the paper is reserved for more lengthy feature material (most of which summed up recent games the subject(s) played in), while the internet is used to market the paper and get info out quickly without having to work the complicated deadline system.

    So many parents called wanting to know if my internet-only gamers would end up in the next issue of the paper. Why? I always asked.

    Because we want to cut it out and put it on the fridge.

    Can't you print it off the internet and stick it on the fridge? I suggested.

    Well....that's just not the same thing.

    Why not??

    Fucking parents.
  10. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    It's not the same because it's not a clip, with a photo, that appeared in the hometown newspaper, that will go into a scrapbook that the guy will find in an attic someday and be able to show his kids.
    Not saying I agree with the sentiment, but that's the way it is. The clipping acknowledges them in their hometown paper. It makes them a big deal for a day or two, so mom can be stopped in the aisle at the grocery store and smile when somebody she hasn't seen in a while says "Oh, I saw the story about little Jack in the paper..."
    Do I agree with it? No. Is it important? It sure is. Gamers aren't important to you and me, because they're just another pain in the ass. But they're important to the kids who play in them and their parents -- readers.
  11. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    the photos might be blurry because the subjects are blurry. some people just are.
  12. BH33

    BH33 Member

    I'm surprised to hear people say that teams in their areas don't keep stats. Where I work, every single school has somebody that keeps stats, either on a computer or PDA, or by hand. Sometimes it's a stat guy that knows his stuff, sometimes its a team manager that probably misses a rebound here and there.

    I'm able to keep everything during a basketball game - shots made and missed, rebounds, assists, steals, turnovers, blocks, etc., but if I ever needed it, I could probably find some of those stats by asking the coach. If nothing else, EVERY team at least has somebody keeping the points and fouls.

    I'm as annoyed with parents as anyone. I've been dealing with them for 14 years. But, this little rant by sartrean points to a major problem in our profession, in my opinion: Most reporters have way too much arrogance and forget that what we're doing is for the readers. Yes, it's nice to build clips, get paid to watch sports, and try to further our careers, but in essence, what we're doing is providing a service for the readers. That's why it's important to listen to complaints. Toss aside the ridiculous ones - like the woman who complained about 4 more words being written about a certain kid. But, if "So many parents called wanting to know if my internet-only gamers would end up in the next issue of the paper," maybe you need to step back and think about it, put aside what you THINK the readers want and give them what they keep telling you they want. In this particular case, it obviously wasn't one mom asking it; it was quite a few. So, start putting gamers in the paper.

    The point is, we need to remember the point of what we're doing is to try to gain or keep readers. We're not writing for us; we're writing for the readers.

    And, gamers don't have to be horrible to read or write. If you're asking the right questions and know your stuff going in, you can put together pretty good gamers. One way to spice them up is to stay away from too much play-by-play and try to "featurize" the gamer. A gamer that is strictly play-by-play, stats, and a couple quotes IS boring, but find a feature-type angle to it and you have fun with it.
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