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National columns from local writers

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by ripthejacker, Feb 24, 2007.

  1. ripthejacker

    ripthejacker New Member

    Just wondering what you think about local writers devoting endless columns to professional sports?
    We work in a town that doesn't have a professional team withing 200 miles and our staff has limited experience covering sports beyond the Division-II level, yet we're still allowed, encouraged even, to write columns on events we watch on TV. Our we justified in doing this simply because we're surrounded by sports daily and we know a thing or two about writing for a paper?
    I say no. I think we should keep it local because our readers would read a headline and, first of all be intrigued because what you're going to talk about directly affects them, but also because we may know something about the subject they don't because we more or less get privileged info by simply covering local beats.
    I know it's fun to try to box with the big boys, but when a small-town writer with no credentials gives me his opinion on a big-time event, to me he's just a sports fan with an outlet.
  2. Oz

    Oz Well-Known Member

    Agree with that, unless you've got a way to tie it in with something local (NFL draft party or NCAA Tournament pools, for example). There are just too many different TV and radio stations, Web sites and message boards for people to turn to when they want news on pro or D-I sports to think a column is covering ground that no one's touched before. Local columns are definitely the way to go here.

    That said, there have been a couple times when I had something to say and gotten good feedback. I made sure to pick and choose carefully.
  3. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    A lot of it has to do with perspective.

    If you can bring something new and fresh to the table, then there's always room for another opinion.

    But, on balance, I think local columnists should mainly keep it local. Or at least regional.
  4. pallister

    pallister Guest

    A good columnist can write about anything he wants and people will read it. And, yes, there are good columnists at small papers.
  5. ripthejacker

    ripthejacker New Member

    Some of the play-by-play, matchup stuff that I really can't get over. I mean, I'll watch College Gameday or NBA Tonight to get the insider details on a team, not a local guy who has never covered the NBA, or worse yet, NASCAR.

    Right now, the only wiggle room I can see to give these guys is when they write about issues pertaining to a big-time sport ie, something like "The state of the athlete today is worse than its ever been," in response to Pacman Jones' strip club incident. And even then, it would give the writer more credibility if he tied that into something local, say any on- or off-field incidents from local teams.

    You said it, there's just way too many other places to get information from other, more connected sources.
  6. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Ideally you localize it. Maybe find a local high school that's trying to raise money to buy new football uniforms, and contrast it with Pacman throwing 80 grand in the air.

    You can make your Pacman points and still tie it to something relevant in your area.

    But a guy in Nowhere, Vermont railing that Barry Bonds is an asshole is usually pretty weak.
  7. dawgpounddiehard

    dawgpounddiehard Active Member

    Not only that but the taking thay angle or an angle on any national sports news for a local columnist — more times than not — has been done before many, many times. By the time Podunk Press writes it, it is trite.
  8. Taylee

    Taylee Member

    And it's time spent that would be better directed at anything local, which in a small community, the readers won't get on any web site or national mag
  9. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    But to play devil's advocate: the overwhelming majority of local columns are fawning paeans to the local team or athlete that does well, and "good job Tinytown girls volleyball!" is no less inconsequential than "Barry Bonds sucks anus". And ripping the locals usually causes more trouble than it's worth, particularly if you also cover those teams straight the rest of the time.

    Play to your stregnths: if someone can write an insightful and entertaining column even if it doesn't namecheck the area high schools, so be it. That's still our job at some level.
  10. scribe21

    scribe21 Member

    My column winners have centered around national sports. So, I think a blend of local and national is nice. Why not voice an opinion on national sports every now and then? I get more response from the national ones than local columns, but I still try to mix it up. ... Got a letter from the UK on a column I had written on the Olympics a couple of years ago. ... Do a mixture. ...
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I understand why we do it (we have sucky people in charge of the newsroom most places), but often localizing blows. The topic is either interesting or it isn't. What we're saying, in effect, is that our readers are too parochial to be interested in a national issue unless we find some hayseed to insert into it. And ignoring national issues is basically saying our readers are too parochial to have any interest in anything beyond this county and we are too small-time to give it to them.
  12. scribe21

    scribe21 Member

    Amen Frank. Just because you work at a small paper doesn't mean you are a small fish. People want to know your take on certain things. Like say, the the Super Bowl, World Series, something national that someone said, etc. Can make for some very good columns. Most of the time, the topic at "local" events is "national" sports.
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