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Preps Football Questions and Venting

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Italian_Stallion, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    I got to my game tonight and discovered that it was homecoming night. That meant an extended halftime. Plus, we have mandatory water breaks in addition to regular stoppages. It was also a televised high school game. That meant extended timeouts. Then there were umpteen penalties (including one on the opening kickoff and a second before the first play from scrimmage) and more than 40 pass plays, including about 20 that were incomplete.

    I knew as soon as I sat down in the box that this game wouldn't be over in time to hit my deadline. The game started at 7:30 p.m. My deadline is 10:15 p.m. The paper asked me to switch to this game because their staffer had switched to cover my original game. I have a hunch at this point that I know why he switched.

    The game ended at 10:38. I rushed onto the field to get a quote from the key player and a quote from the coach. There was no time to waste, but it had to be done because it was the paper's featured game. In fact, I was told to get the quote when I called the paper at 10:30 to report that it wasn't over.

    So I get the quotes and sprint off the field and to my car. I'm gasping for breath as I call the paper at 10:45 and tell them the final score and that the story will be late. It's the second time I've talked to them in 15 minutes. Both times, I stressed that the game was going late and that I had no phone line in the press box but would try to get to a connection ASAP.

    I drove to McDonald's and zipped into the parking lot at 10:55. I park the car, turn off the headlights, turn off the ignition, pull out my laptop. No wireless. Another five minutes wasted. It's 11 p.m. I almost lose the oil pan on my $18,000 car as I tear ass out of the parking lot. I'm almost out of ideas. So I drove another 10 minutes to a McDonald's with wireless.

    I get there at 11:10 p.m. It takes a good five minutes to pull out my credit card, enter my card number, expiration date, etc. At 11:19 p.m., I have finally accessed the network. At 10:21 p.m., I file my story.

    At 10:24 p.m., I get a call. Editor wants to know why I filed so late. The story missed the first edition. He says I should have communicated with him. I explain that I called twice in 15 minutes and made it clear that my story would be late and that I did the best I could do given the circumstances.

    Part of me wants to know how I can address this stuff in the future. Another part of me isn't so sure I want there to be a future. I don't mind deadlines. But this stuff is seriously frustrating. It took a lot of willpower to avoid stopping for a pack of cigarettes. I can't go to sleep because my hands are shaking. I plan to go into the garage and lift weights.

    I've heard all of the suggestions. I'm not sure Verizon, my cell company, has a wireless card that will work in my Mac. I'm also not sure I'd get a signal at some games. I've played the contact the AD game. A few times, that worked out well. In other cases, it takes a good 20 minutes to get to the AD's office, and then you get to play the game of figuring out how to dial out. Do you have to dial 9? Is it 9 and then the area code? Wait. What is the area code? Do I need to dial that? Or is this school already in the right area code? Sometimes, my games are played off-site at municipal stadiums that lack phone lines.

    There are all sorts of issues that can cause deadline headaches. Usually, it's not an issue. Tonight, though, it was.

    Am I alone? Does this shit only happen to me? Are the rest of the folks equipped with time machines that allow them to meet deadlines that come before a game ends?
  2. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    But there's no way to file unless I send a text message on my phone or call in my game.
  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Guess this is a bad time to praise the greatest invention in sports history -- the running clock. Four games in town tonight, and three reporters, so I volunteer to cover the one that starts at 7 and then hustle to another one (that starts at 7:30) when it's done. First game turns into a blowout by halftime. Clock runs for most of the second half. Game ends at 8:52 and I'm on my way to the second one 20 minutes later.
    Get there in time for the whole fourth quarter and a thrilling finish (TD in the last minute to win it). Hustle back to the office and bang out two 15-inch gamers in about 45 minutes. I'm kind of pumped right now.
  4. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Dude, no offense, but really?

    1. So ask Verizon if they do. Don't say 'I don't know if they do or not' and think that will stand.
    2. ASK THE AD if you have to dial 9. And you wouldn't have to call the school's area code, just the one where your connection is based, which should logically be your office.
    3. If they're played off site, then make plans in advance.

    This is not that hard.
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    I feel you Italian, but I would definitely look into an air card. You can get service anywhere, and I mean anywhere.

    I got service in towns of 12 in West Texas and I'm not shitting you.

    Also, I want to know what kind of paper thinks a high school football game is going to be over and someone can file by a 10:15 deadline?

    That's fucking bullshit right there.

    Games start at 7:30 p.m. and even if both teams run the Wing-T, it won't end until 9:15 at the earliest -- well, then obviously you could get your story in, but that is rare that a game will be that quick.

    My other suggestion would be this: You should have planned ahead to know which McDonald's had wireless before your game started. Then the second you get your quotes, you hit your car and know exactly where you are going to send your story. That would have saved 10 minutes right there.

    And also, I probably would've called the desk while driving between McD's just to check back in.

    Sorry you had a shitty night.
  6. BigRed

    BigRed Active Member

    Sorry you had a rough night. I cover a college beat, but do games on Friday nights when I'm in town to help out.
    I thought I had a bad night tonight... press box at the stadium was full (cable TV and 3 radio stations broadcasting), so the folks up there suggested I go down a level, where the school holds group functions during games sometimes. Wasn't supposed to be anything tonight, they said. Wrong.
    It's senior night there (don't ask me why they hold a senior night in late September), but I ask the attendant down there if I can just park my stuff there and hold a seat down to watch the game (it's raining outside).
    She says yes. Another writer shows up. Asks the same thing, receives the same answer.
    A third writer shows up. "No, you can't stay here, we're having senior night tonight."
    He points at us. "But what about them?"
    "They have to leave too."
    "What? I asked the lady. "You just said we could stay."
    "You have to leave when the event starts."
    "When is that happening?"
    "I don't know. Whenever it starts."
    Game starts, and it becomes obvious the event will be at halftime (when they are honoring seniors in all fall athletics), as people start coming in the second quarter and setting up food, drink, etc.
    So I just said screw it and spent the second half on the sidelines after biting my lip through about 1,000 things I wanted to say to that lady.
    Luckily, I was rewarded. The stats crew printed off a stat sheet for me (saving me 20 minutes of tabulating my own), and right on deadline, when it looked like the stadium's wireless system was down, I went back upstairs to the main press box..... and found a T-1 line that worked. Hallelujah.
    I do sympathize with the filing issues. But find a wireless card that works for your computer. That's your best solution.
  7. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    I just presented a few examples of issues that one faces. I never said I didn't work around them, and I didn't expect anyone to critique each of my examples or I would have gone into more details. Each situation presents its own challenges.

    For the record, Verizon didn't have anything for my Mac the last time I checked, and I can't justify paying $60 a month for something I only use 10-12 nights a year.

    I do ask questions and trouble-shoot issues, and I do plan ahead. If you are at a stadium located 15 minutes from a phone line, though, it's virtually impossible to file a story in less than 25 minutes no matter what the deadline is.

    Sometimes, no amount of planning is enough. Two years ago, I caught shit because I filed late. The next day, I found out that another reporter had the same problems. She now works at ESPN. So it's not as if it doesn't happen to plenty of experienced and talented people.

    The thing is that this isn't normal. I filed a good 30 minutes before deadline last week, and that's a deadline that has been moved up 30 minutes from what it was two years ago. But this happens to me about once a year. In a lot of cases, I sense that I'm assigned games precisely because full-timers have avoided them. They know which schools are troublesome for filing and so forth. How else can you explain a stringer covering the paper's game of the week?
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    find a usb card.

  9. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    And if he's got no way to send, what good is a running gamer?

    And Red, you should have asked the lady where you were. When she said, "Press Box," you counter with "Thank you." Your boss would understand.
  10. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    As a high school editor who deals with this stuff almost every Friday night (and some Saturdays) here's exactly what you should have done, Stallion:

    Talk to your editor in advance, let him know that a 7:30 start and a 10:15 deadline is going to be tight. When you get to the site, check everything out and find out that you can't transmit from there, call the editor IMMEDIATELY and tell him there is a problem and work out a plan to handle it..including the probability that the only way to make first edition deadline is to dictate...fuck looking for a McDonald's to file from.

    When the halftime extravaganza is over, call the office again, let the editor know that it's already after 9 and the second half hasn't even started and, having no sure way to file, the only thing to do is dictate as soon as it ends.
    Fuck getting quotes, be prepared to write a running gamer, dictate and make the damn deadline. It is your responsibility to do this, to keep your editor apprised of the situation and the problems and get the damn story in on time for the first edition.
    Then you can get your quotes and come back with a sub for the second edition.
    You filed your story more than an hour past deadline. It is of no use to me. If I'm your editor, I'm all over your ass for failing to do your job, despite the difficult circumstances.
  11. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Buck, my man, stick to baseball.
    If any of my guys ever filed that shit I'd can him immedialtely, if I didn't kill him first.
    You can not run a story that said here were 10 minutes left at press time. Readers -- 10 hours later -- want to know the fucking final score, not what was happening in the middle of the fourth quarter.
    If the game doesn't end by deadline, you blow it off...you also give your editor enough of a heads up that it won't end in time so he (ME!) can adjust accordingly.
  12. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I used to write all my football gamers in the school(s). The ADs would let me into the back room of the gym, the main office, their offices, anything to get the job done. They wanted their team in the paper way more than I wanted their team in it, so they were more than happy to help me out.
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