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My feature on a Univ. Kentucky football player

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by CollegeJournalist, Jan 30, 2007.

  1. CollegeJournalist

    CollegeJournalist Active Member

    This is a feature story I just completed about a week ago on University of Kentucky football player Michael Aitcheson.

    Aitcheson is a licensed minister in his home state of Florida, and assuming he doesn't make the NFL, he's returning there to get his masters degree in divinity next fall.

    He was a great interview and a great guy to write about. Hope you all like it, and any critique or comments are welcome. Keep in mind, it's a story for a college paper, written by a college kid and edited by college kids, so it's not going to fit the same standards as some of the stuff you all read and write everyday.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Travis, thanks for posting.

    Your story has had a lot of reads but no comments yet, and I think there's a reason for that: It's a clean piece of work, nothing much to poke at.

    But I'd like to offer a couple of suggestions.

    It feels to me like there's a little missing here. Perhaps it's the heathen circles I run in, but I don't know anybody who's off to be a minister. I would think that's a rare sacrifice these days, that there aren't many people -- particularly college football players -- willing to make the sort of life-change that leading a flock would necessitate. I would have liked to have read a little bit about how this guy's life will change with his decision -- real, substantive changes. Was this guy a presence on campus? Did he always practice what he preached, or was he occasionally tempted by co-eds and keggers? And now that his teammates are off to do whatever it is they're going to do, does he think he'll ever wonder what else could have been? Will there be jealousy in his heart? Is he going to cut his hair? Questions like that.

    I liked the opening anecdote with the two bibles, but I think the story -- if you had time -- could have benefitted from a "scene" or two, just seeing this guy in his life. Watching him attend church is the obvious thing, I think. Or at least seeing him walking campus.

    Last, I don't normally go for quote finishes, but I liked that one. I think that's all right.

    Overall, I think it's a solid effort. And I think the writing is nice and clean (and again, the writing is what usually gets shot to hell, hence the lack of responses). Here, I think it's your reporting that could stand a second look. When you're writing profiles, try to get a little deeper. Really try to burrow into your subject's head.
  3. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    It is solid stuff, Travis.

    I'll just add to what Jones said... sometimes the quote finish works, especially if it ties back to your lede. Give your readers a reward for reaching the end of the story.

    Along those lines, since this story had some teeth to it, Jones is right, it would have benefited from a "scene" or two and using that as your lede and conclusion, something that ties everything together.

    But right now being in college, making sure you're turning in clean copy that copy editors do not need to take much time with is the biggest hurdle right now. I'm not sure how your relationship is with the copy editors or how it works, but if everyone has time, after you turn in your work, ask them if they had any problems. I get the best feed back from my copy editors into what kind of copy I'm turning it as opposed to the finished product I see in the paper.

    But once you can consistently turn in clean copy, then start working on "scenes" and stuff like that. But if you can turn in clean copy, that's a great start.
  4. CollegeJournalist

    CollegeJournalist Active Member

    It was a lot longer, guys. But it was limited by space. The scene of the two Bibles was set, and I had a lot of extra information--anecdotes, etc--that I really wanted to put in the space. But I was limited to 20-25 inches, and they ran a huge picture with it, so I couldn't go too deep and still cover the basics.

    Plus, he was actually very adamant about keeping the story from being totally about him...weird, I know, and it made it a little harder.

    Thanks for the responses, though. I appreciate it. I spent a lot of time on it and actually rewrote the first half of it entirely about three days before it ran.

    And dawg, I have a lot of input from my editors, since it's a small paper and they're only managing a few guys that are regulars, a status I'm just now really getting to. So they helped me out a lot, as did one of the columnists. I was happy with it and I've gotten a ton of feedback from people around campus and the community, and Mike loved it.

    I'm actually trying to think of another big feature to write now. I might expand on this one, go very in depth with it, and see how that goes.
  5. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr BJOC,

    I love the secondary interviews you did with team-mates. That is absolutely first-rate. But I wonder if there was a secondary interview that you could have done on the ministry side. Mr Jones refers to "getting inside subject's head" ... I would suggest that if we had something about his decision and character from one of his influences or from someone who has made that decision, it would be worth pulling back one of the team-mates' quotes.

    As said, a solid effort.

    YHS, etc
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