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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. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    Again: the people who read high school sports stories don't give a hoot in hell about how pretty the lede is or how much work you did to research an obscure stat or trend. They just want names and pictures, preferably more than the other kids. Once we get past that, it's easy to churn out the gamers, which is fine because unless you don't have any ability to create story ideas, you're not putting them in your portfolio anyway. So might as well keep them happy, since precious few others will care one way or another.

    Cynical? Sure. Gotta feed the beast, though -- to a sane degree.
  2. People who read high school sports don't care about how good the article is, other than names and pictures? I don't know how to put it any more bluntly: That's bull. People do care.
  3. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    doesn't matter what the readers think.

    what matters is if you have good clips for your next interview.

    if you go through the motions and crank out shit you'll be stuck there forever.
  4. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    My antecdotal but extensive evidence has shown me the following:

    * In 10 years writing high school sports, I've gotten ONE comment about the quality of a story from someone who didn't have a direct connection with someone who had a part in the game or feature. It was a really good high school football game, and the mother of the quarterback of a rival team complemented us on our coverage of it.

    * I've written about a wrestler who competed with one leg, a volleyball player who had a specific type of aneurysm that only occured in five other people on Earth, athletes who dedicate state championships to dead parents. I've written stories that get me compliments from the inside baseball type folks. Number of comments from people in the community: el zilcho.

    * Last winter I did a top 10 stories of 2005, and enouraged people to send in their suggestions, including stories they thought deserved to be in there. Got one response, someone who complained that I didn't do a story on a local youth swimming team that her daughter was a part of.

    People who read high school sports stories do so with a utilitarian purpose. Either it's a friend or family member looking for a name, an athlete from that school or that sport looking for a result, or a writer looking to see if that reporter sucks less than he. If you think people are poring over the prep softball gamer at Barnes & Noble, treating it like James Fucking Joyce, then you live in a radically different part of the world than I, or you're mistaken.
  5. BH33

    BH33 Member

    It doesn't happen often, you're right. But, I have received several comments over the years from readers who say they appreciate the approach I take to a game story; rather than re-hashing the play-by-play, picking up on anecdote and making that the focus.

    In general, sportwriter not a junky is wrong. People don't really care about the quality, as long as it's accurate. The average reader doesn't care, nor recognize, good writing. One time I threw together a crap story on an ODP soccer player. I hated it, thought it was one of the worst stories I'd written. The next day, the parents of that kid called to say how great the story was. I'm sure it's in a frame or a scrapbook somewhere.

    That doesn't mean we can't try to write the best story we can. To amend what I said a couple posts ago, we need to remember that our focus is to give the readers what they want, and it's been established that what high school readers want is names and some accuracy. At the same time, we'd like to further our careers, so it's important to write the best story we can to help us get another job. If the parents and kids don't recognize our quality, maybe an editor at another paper will. If nothing else, we can feel better about the work we do.
  6. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    Ding. We have a winner.
  7. Crimson Tide

    Crimson Tide Member

    I'm holding out to see if something opens up at a paper down South. My dad went to school with the ME, and the guy told me to wait and see. Other than that, nothing worth applying to.

    Also of note, I'm at a Lee joint, so management should turn over within another six months.
  8. sartrean

    sartrean Member

    BH33, allow me to clarify.

    First, when I was at my last shop, it would have pleased me greatly to churn out gamer after gamer, but the problem was the paper's deadline system.

    It was a thrice weekly child paper of the big city daily. Our deadlines ran usually four days in advance of publication. Outside of football season, it made gamers very difficult. Think about it, you couldn't write a Monday-night gamer for Friday's paper and include team records in it because those records would have changed by the time the gamer was printed in the paper.

    I thought posting gamers on the internet site would give readers what they wanted, but no, they wanted it in the print edition (unless their team lost, then they'd bitch that we wrote negatively about their beloved team).

    Also, the big city daily's editors determined that the four or five pages of sports each week should be devoted to features. I tried to oblige. Parents of kids who were not featured in the paper bitched the most about it, of course, the ones who had little Johnny or Suzy featured in the print edition loved it.

    In the process of working there, I determined that gamers were so friggin boring. So easy and effortless to write, but impossible for it to be timely given our deadline system. Only football worked with the deadlines. Friday night gamers were written for Monday's paper, but all other sports were a bust given the fact kids play all the other sports almost every day of the week.

    Anyway, the big city daily pulled the plug on the sports section altogether after it was discovered that our ad salespeople were too incompetent to sell ads for the section.

    My editor still forwards me bitchy emails from parents, complaining that there's no sports section at all now. These emails are a riot because few readers ever complimented us on the sports section when the paper had one.
  9. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Ah, the myths of weekly reporting. Just because we may not publish every day, doesn't mean we don't have hard deadlines... not every game falls four or five days away from publishing. We turn around a lot of stories at this paper within hours, not days.
  10. MC Sports Guy

    MC Sports Guy Member

    Yeah, you're right. We shouldn't want people to actually buy the newspaper. Just read it for free on the Internet. I don't like being employed anyway. Jesus. ***SIGH***
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    How does it feel to the turd in the punchbowl?
  12. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Since I'm agreeing with someone else, your comment seems particularly ignorant, even for you.

    Reading comprehension -- looks like it's low on Aceosaurus' goals for 2007.
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