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Prep Sports Reporter, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Discussion in 'Journalism Jobs' started by boundforboston, Jul 20, 2015.

  1. boundforboston

    boundforboston Well-Known Member

    The Hattiesburg American, a Gannett Co. Inc. company, is seeking a Prep Sports Reporter to take high school sports coverage beyond gamers, engaging readers with multi-media stories across platforms about area high school sports. The Prep Sports Reporter will be expected to provide a mix of alternative storytelling, daily coverage, features and top-notch watchdog journalism.

    This reporter will cover high school sports at about 20 Pine Belt high schools, mainly football, basketball and baseball, but other sports as merited. The Prep Sports Reporter also will assist with University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University and junior college coverage.

    The Prep Sports Reporter will need to be self-directed, comfortable using metrics and able to create an audience and develop a brand as the go-to high school sports expert in Hattiesburg. This reporter should be comfortable on social media and attending live events.

  2. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    I guess I can let the cat out of the bag. This is my job that I'm leaving in a couple of weeks to take on the job as SID at one of the nearby jucos. It's a bit of a bittersweet move as my predecessor was a longtime friend who died suddenly of a heart attack about six weeks ago, and this is a job that I really enjoyed and did pretty well, if I say so myself. But it's an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

    A few things about the position:

    1. Don't let the fact that it's Gannett keep you from giving this job a look. Gannett tends to leave the HA alone, for better or worse, but recently, they've actually shown some interest, apart from its usual status as the Clarion-Ledger's little brother. We've gotten a new go-getter as the GM and he's really rebuilt the ad department into a thriving unit and has worked to restore the paper's identity separate from the C-L. And the bit about "metrics?" That's just a fancy way of saying get plenty of coverage of Hattiesburg High, Oak Grove and Petal. Those are the three largest schools in the area, and I'd guess 2/3 (maybe more) of the readership are supporters of one or the other of those three schools. The ad is correct in one regard: whoever takes this job will (or should) be the go-to guy for high school sports info in the area.

    2. Hattiesburg is a great small city that is centrally-located to just about any place in the southeastern quarter of the US. I mean, it's almost exactly two hours from my house to the French Quarter, it's three hours to Tuscaloosa, 4 1/2 to Memphis, six hours to Atlanta and seven hours to Houston. You get the picture. And there is a nice local music scene, plenty of cultural events with the colleges and some really great restaurants. Housing is reasonable and violent crime is rare (the recent murder of two police officers notwithstanding).

    3. Whoever gets this job will quickly become familiar with all of the landmarks on US 49 between Hattiesburg and Jackson, as there are a number of championship-caliber programs in a wide variety of sports, especially baseball, which is huge in this area. Every sport except MHSAA football plays their state tournaments/championships in the Jackson area and you will be there for all of them. The MHSAA will be playing their football championships for the next few seasons at Ole Miss, MSU and Southern Miss (in 2018 and 2019), and we've had at least one team playing in the state finals every year that I've been in this job (since 2003). FWIW, Southern is also hosting the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game this year and in 2017, and that's going to be a huge deal, as it is one of the big events in the South for college recruiters.

    4. Don't turn your nose up at the prospect of covering a little William Carey or the jucos. Carey is an NAIA school that I would say is among the top 30 athletic programs in the nation in NAIA. It's a Baptist school, they have a lot of money and they've spent a good chunk of it building one of the nicest small-college athletic complexes anywhere. To be fair, they've also spent a lot on building new dorms, a nursing school, a medical school and a new theater. And they compete nationally in just about all of their sports. As for the jucos that you'll be watching (Pearl River and Jones County), the Mississippi junior college league is one of, if not, the best in the country, with D-1 level athletes and programs that are players nationally. Any USM coverage will be in support of the Southern Miss beat writer, who doubles as beat guy for the Ledger, and will usually be limited to home football games and the occasional baseball or women's basketball game.

    As for the pay, I assume it will be around $30-35K and the benefits are decent. Any other questions about this job, feel free to shoot me a PM.

    NQLBLQ Member

    As someone who is out of the business and now living in Hattiesburg, if you have any questions about the area, ask away...
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Albert77, good luck stepping into Mitch's shoes. Hell of a stunning loss to the state when he died.
    You've done a good job of summing up there, I think.
    This is an interesting entry point for anyone trying to make a move up. I'll avoid my usual Gannett snark and say this is worth a good long look.
    Liut likes this.
  5. changingtimes

    changingtimes New Member

    Is there still no Sports Editor in Hattiesburg?
  6. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I think the Jackson SE - whatever they call him - has oversight duty there. It's a thing.
  7. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Never worked in Hattiesburg, but worked near there for a long time. If you're going to be a prep writer in Mississippi, it's the place to be.

    The local teams are good at everything and crank out D-1 prospects. And you're in a college town. While Hattiesburg is not Tuscaloosa, Athens or Oxford, it's a nice place to hang out.
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