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Not even a stringer? For football?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daytonadan1983, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. daytonadan1983

    daytonadan1983 Active Member

    My question/concern of the day, esteemed members of this board.

    My top 25 FCS football team had its conference road opener Saturday. Yes, it was a flight game, but still an important game.

    Our primary media outlet didn't travel and didn't even hire a stringer. Wrote off the live video feed and live stat feed, got quotes from the post-game radio and managed to churn out a respectable gamer.

    We do our usual deal for the school web site -- in-game social media, breaking gamer on the site at 0:00, write-thru, notes, photo gallery.

    Listen, I get it. Money's tight. And I've done my share of sending basketball, baseball and even NCAA softball regional stuff back to that media outlet ... gladly.

    But it's football season and the team is ranked. Heck, the other team in the coverage area was on the road -- same treatment. You can get a good stringer for $100.

    So the Sunday paper's out the next day and I see the coverage and think -- "We provide the same coverage and they want me to pay for this."

    So, should I appreciate the features and advance coverage more, and that coverage is strong, and accept gameday coverage for what it is, or do I have a legitimate concern.

    Have an A-1 day.
  2. Paynendearse

    Paynendearse Member

    Sign of the business. And it's bad. Not your perspective, the bean counters. Of course I could say with colleges these days, so much about post-game is controlled that it's hard to get stuff that others don't, especially if the access s a parade to the podium of the stars of the game and the coach.
  3. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I assume you are speaking as an SID. I've been both (SID and working media).

    The reality is that budgets as well as manpower are tighter than they've ever been and more and more often management is taking a harder look at things like travel. I've done many, many games in the way you described. Ideal? No. But you do the best you can with what you have.

    Used to be, newspaper, TV and radio were fans' primary -- often only --- method of following a team. Not so anymore. As you noted, schools and teams have their own websites offering up-to-the-minute coverage, often better than what the newspaper can provide. In an odd way, it results in newspapers doing less, not more, with the mindset "the diehards are going to go to the university site first anyway". As an editor, I'd be asking "should I really spend $500 (or whatever) to send Steve to cover the game, when SID Frank will send us a story that's just as good and we've got five other things locally that need covering?"

    In time, universities and teams will do what the mainstream media has done for years --- sell ads and generate some revenue for the content they produce. That will leave newspapers to pick up the leftovers.
  4. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    As far as a stringer goes, I would have to ask "where does the University fit in the newspaper's priorities?" If you normally get centerpiece coverage every single week you play, that strikes me as a little odd. But if you are competing with State U up the road plus the high schools for top billing, it makes more sense. Maybe there's a bigger game next week and you'll get the spotlight treatment.
  5. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Your newspaper knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  6. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    FCS? Like Montana averages big attendance FCS, or like Maine averages 7K and meh? I'm betting there are plenty of FBS teams that papers aren't stringing anymore, so FCS, depending on the area of the country and the fan base....can't say I'm surprised.
  7. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    Like Jimmy and Mark said, more information is needed.

    In a better world, yes they would have set up a stringer. Heck, in a perfect world, they would have sent the beat writer.

    But - again like they said - how big is this team in the overall scheme of things? If it's the No. 10 thing on the list of priorities for that paper, is it worth $100 to get a 12-inch story that's going to get buried and draw very little eyeballs on? Does this team a big draw in the market to begin with - if they average 4,000 a game for a nationally-ranked FCS team and no one in the general public is going to blink an eye if you travel with them, set up a stringer or write a radio "gamer", is it worth the $100? You said the one team was ranked - is it a game they should be expected to win by 60 or lose by 60? If there's a good chance of a blowout in either direction, that would make it more acceptable, IMO.

    You said it was a "respectable" gamer. I'm sure we've all set up stringers to cover events where we received far less than a respectable gamer despite spending the money.

    So yes, ideally they would have traveled with the team or set up a stringer. But there could be some very legitimate reasons why they didn't.
  8. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    As noted on another thread, this is a trend.

  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Bean-counters are running media outlets, plain and simple. All they see is the bottom line and ask "what expenses can we cut back on?" It's never "how can we generate more revenue?" Seems like it's always cut, cut, cut, cut.

    Heck, we are in a day when some large chains are requiring employees to take up to 20 days per year of furloughs. On a staff of five, that's 100 freakin' days per year without pay because it saves the paper a few (thousand) dollars!! So if papers are doing that, I guess I'm not surprised they are cutting back on travel, mileage, meals and other extras. As well as stringer budgets.

    If you can write a game off the TV and radio or even a play-by-play and milk 10-12 inches from that while saving the company a few hundred dollars, that is going to be expected. I've said this a hundred times, but it's still true: As long as what you write doesn't result in a lawsuit or lost ad dollars, the suits DO NOT CARE. Don't expect them to pay extra for a great story vs. a crappy one. Sad, but true.
  10. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    You might be able to get away with pretending you are actually at the event, but there's also a chance you look like an ass when an angle or sidebar arises and the video feed and quotes you're relying on miss it completely.
  11. SnarkShark

    SnarkShark Well-Known Member

    If you're not at the game, don't run a bylined story. That's deceptive to the readers in the sense that it gives the impression the reporter was there and that the paper gives a shit enough to pay for it.

    Doing anything else is unethical and is regurgitating someone else's work.... Just like when a TV station rips off your content. It's a two-way street.
  12. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Readers still don't know shit about all the insider signals we give them like "bylines mean I was there."
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