1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

New Sports writer would like advice

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by kuballer2369, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. kuballer2369

    kuballer2369 New Member

    I'm 19 years old and I just got a job as a sports writer for a pretty decent size newspaper. (Circulation is 19,991 copies) I'm a freshman at a Junior College and I am majoring in communications. I have only been working at the paper for about 3 weeks. Up to this point, I have been doing mostly just agate and prep sports roundups.

    I am scheduled to cover my first sports event this Tuesday, which is a high school boys basketball game. I am completely new to this sports writing, but sports are my passion and I am a very quick learner. I have a few questions that maybe some of you experienced guys out there could possibly answer. Any help will be greatly appreciated!

    Any general advice on covering basketball games?

    Are there any textbooks or books in general that I can read that will teach me the basics of sports writing?

    I am still doing my gen eds in college so it will be at least another year before I can take journalism classes. I want to know of some good books I can read to teach myself.

    Any make, model, brand voice recorder suggestions?

    If there is anything else you think I need to know, please feel free to give me your input.

  2. awriter

    awriter Active Member

    A few things:
    1) Keep a play-by-play and stats, but don't bog the story down with that stuff;
    2) Find an angle, whether it's the big picture (winning team closing in on conference title, state tournament, etc.) or a star player or whatever.
    3) Avoid cliches, coachspeak.
    4) Make sure you talk to the players.
    5) Why can't you take a journalism class? I don't get that.
  3. kuballer2369

    kuballer2369 New Member

    I'm only a freshman at a 2 year junior college. I have to get my general education classes out of the way ex. math eng 101 etc.
  4. fishhack2009

    fishhack2009 Active Member


    Good advice from awriter.

    I'd add that you should get a cheap tape recorder. There are digital ones, but I prefer an older one that uses tape. They are a bit cheaper. It's good to use one at first to get quotes correct. Later, as you become more experienced, you'll probably get good at writing quotes in your notebook.

    Often new writers have a tendency to "empty the notebook" on game stories. Resist this urge. Keep play-by-play to a minimum, and summarize when possible.

    As far as talking to players .. I approach that on a game-by-game basis. If a player does something special game-winning shot, career night, etc .. then I talk to them. But I don't have a hard-and-fast rule for my writers that they ALWAYS talk to players. Check with your sports editor and see what his or her preference is.

    Good luck to you!
  5. kuballer2369

    kuballer2369 New Member

    I agree. I don't want to "empty the notebook". I dont want to write about stuff that people can find out by looking at the box score. I'm going to really try to be creative and make my stories interesting to read.
  6. Use your senses to find a story. For example, if you notice the team has all gotten similar haircuts, that might be your story if they have a compelling reason behind it. Look at the records and opponent. If the game is a key conference game, that might shape your story. If a team does something uncommon, maybe that's your story.

    You can go a lot of different ways, as long as you pay attention. Do that and you'll be fine.
  7. I'm going to have to disagree here. I think you should always talk to a player or two, without exception. A lot of people avoid it - and this might be what fishhack is thinking - because high school kids can be pretty tough to get to say anything interesting. But they played the game, not the coach, and they will be able to yield insights that the coach just can't because he wasn't out there. Always talk to one. It makes me want to scream when I read a high school game story without a player quoted.
  8. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    You are reporting the facts, not writing an essay for a creative writing class. Be VERY careful - no embellishments, no tweaking to "make it look better."

    You've received a lot of good advice here so far. Read some other stories similar to what you will be covering to get an idea of what works - and what doesn't. You'll do fine - just remember to put the score in the first or second graph of your story. :)
  9. bob

    bob Member

    I don't understand why you were advised to get an old tape-style recorder. that's the dark ages. get a digital. much easier to use, smaller, lighter and clearer.
    otherwise, do not get bogged down in play-by-play. that's also dark-ages stuff. nobody wants to read it. find a compelling angle, an interesting story, like the haircuts, and weave a story, with a little play-by-play, around that.
    you of course have to talk about the high scorers, big plays, etc., but don't simply describe play after play after play. i've always believe that you should use your quotes to tell the stories, i.e., let the participants tell their story.
    best of luck. you can always check back here for more advice. in fact, let us know how it went.
  10. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    If a kid pukes on the court, figure out how to work it into the story.
  11. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    As for some tips, it's sports writing, not Sports writing. "Junior College" isn't capitalized either.

    While there are newspaper writing textbooks, save yourself some cash and look how your newspaper and larger newspapers write game stories.

    Your first stories aren't going to be that great, and that's OK. Mine were horrible. Ask how you can improve and you'll get the hang of it.
  12. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Totally agree. If you can afford the digital recorder, get one. Best investment you can make at this point.

    If you don't know something, ask. Even if you think you know something, ask anyway.

    Heed Rosie's advice about not being too 'creative.' Your writing is not the story, the game is the story. Don't get in the way of your reporting.

    Get online and look at some gamers from the big papers. See how veteran reporters do it.

    Let your boss know you want to work; take whatever assignments they'll throw your way.

    Good luck!
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page