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Qualities in hiring a beat writer

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Magic Johnson, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Magic Johnson

    Magic Johnson New Member

    I'm looking for some quick help in getting a list of qualities, traits and skills for a beat reporter covering major college basketball.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I'd want to see some experience covering a beat.

    I'd want the person to be a self-starter and aggressive.

    Good writer but even better reporter.
  3. Agree with Ace. Someone who isn't lacking in self-motivation.

    Someone who can develop sources.

    Someone who can regularly break out of the advance-gamer-notes rut.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Someone who recognizes it as a rut, rather than a helluva job, would be a plus, yeah.
  5. PeteyPirate

    PeteyPirate Guest

    A strong chin, aquiline nose and buttocks that could crack walnuts.
  6. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    Somebody who can follow the "Zell" model of huge byline counts. When I think of a beat writer — and as a beat writer — I think one of your jobs is constantly learning new information and passing it along to readers.

    I've seen all the Zell-bashing on here about how he counts column inches to measure the worth of a reporter. While it is complete, total bullshit in general to measure staff that way, for a beat writer, it's all about volume. Feed the reader's appetite. If you have your ear to the ground for the little stories, in the process of that, you're going to be connected enough that the bigger, more detailed stories come naturally.
  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the valuable input, corporate lackey.

    Yes, a beat writer should be productive, but I'd rather have one who can put aside the daily grunt work or let someone help out while he/she sinks his/her teeth into something meaty.

    Amazing how many potentially really good stories/enterprise projects are lost in the dust of the daily grind.
  8. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    Ha. If you have the luxury of "let someone help out."
    That depends on the way the paper treats the beat. Do you have two people on the beat? One and a half? Do you have someone that can do a couple of days of player profiles/advances, while you sink your teeth in that meaty story? What you don't want are two days of SID releases or, worse than that, nothing while you are working on your pulitzer. A feature writer can do that. A beat reporter can't.
    If you do have help, great. If not, you work on that meaty story while still churning out the daily copy. And you get to that meaty story, no excuses.

    Kick ass on the basics and build from there, I say.
  9. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I think the answer is actually somewhere in between Ace and BrianGriffin. Because I really feel that a beat writer should be providing regular stuff either for print or online (BLOGS!). And Ace, a problem we're going to see, I think, with shrinking staffs is that second or third person you can get help from on a regular basis isn't going to be there that often, unfortunately.
  10. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I understand. I just have seen too often folks get weighed down with routine crap and the special stuff never gets off the ground. The reporter and his/her bosses need to find a way to make it work.
  11. BrianGriffin

    BrianGriffin Active Member

    That's my point. Sure, you want enterprise. But if the beat is something the readers care about, you need to give them something related to that beat on a daily basis, or as close to a daily basis as you can. You need a workhorse first, a prize-winner second. If you can find a prize winner who's a workhorse, you hit the jackpot. But what you don't want is someone who disappears from the paper for valuable days working on one project while the readers get trained not to expect fresh information on a daily basis on the beat.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I'm not such a big fan of having a story just to have a story about State U every damn day. Especially when you have access to one coach and one player 1-2 days a week and are expected to churn out six features and a notebook.

    Not the best use of newsprint, IMHO.
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