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Question for people who are or have been at weeklies

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mr. X, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

    What do you do when you are told there isn't room for something that really can't hold for a week?

    I wrote a 633-word story about a player from the only high school we cover making an NFL team as an undrafted rookie free agent. If he plays Sunday, it would likely be the first time since 1983 someone from the school has played in an NFL game, so you can see this is a pretty big deal.

    He also comes from a very respected family.

    Sports competes with news for space in the paper and plays second fiddle to it.

    The editor didn't seemed to think that the story of his making the team could hold for a week.

    If this had been a daily paper, if there wasn't room in Thursday's paper, there would be chances for it to make Friday's, Saturday's or Sunday's. Also daily papers have far more space. I know they have more people
    competing for that space and more things to cover, but this would have far more chance of making it before the first regular-season game at a daily newspaper.

    There is no chance for this to go web only. This paper doesn't do that. Putting more resources into the web would bring additional costs and not additional returns.

    Part of me is blaming myself for not filing this Tuesday. The job with the weekly is my second job. My Tuesday was consumed in part with writing something for the daily job and trying to catch up from a night I didn't sleep enough.

    High school sports play begins this week. On Thursday, I'll be making a pitch to the publisher to try to get back the space sports had in the 2009-2010 school year, so there is less of a problem for the rest of the school year.
  2. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    Question: Why not play it on the front of the news section...? The last weekly I was at, they didn't have a problem playing sports stories on the front (i.e. if a local team was in a state championship, normally the preview and the game story would be on the front). A guy making an NFL team from your town sounds like it would qualify.

    However, from your tone, I kind of get the impression that this isn't an option. What are you running in the sports section over the football story?
  3. Toby Carrig

    Toby Carrig Member

    Agree with sgreenwell. Make the pitch to the editor to start it on the front page and either run it in news or jump it to sports.

    Otherwise, you have to make some difficult decisions about trimming some other sports coverage back this week.

    Having worked at both dailies and weeklies, there are some similarities in that space isn't infinite and therefore you have to have a coverage plan. The plan for a daily might be scheduling the feature on local NFL kid to run Thursday instead of Saturday because of Friday night football. At a weekly, it might be knowing where the slow spots on the prep schedule are and planning to write some better enterprise/features for those weeks.

    This story may have come up unexpectedly, or the access to produce the story may have come now, and if it's that big of a deal compared to week 1 of the high school season, use the space it deserves and be tighter on the preps. Hopefully, your readers who expected 600 words on the local team's first game will get it. And depending on your publishing schedule — if you're coming out Tuesday, four days after the Friday night games — it might make the most sense from a coverage philosophy.
  4. mrbigles01

    mrbigles01 Member

    Tough situation. At my weekly I have the first 4-6 pages of the B section as the Sports section so space is rarely an issue. What I would say is this, in my humble opinion a local kid making an NFL team blows whatever prep coverage you have out of the water. So I would run that story first and if you have to hack and slash a week of preps to make them fit in what is left, so be it.
  5. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I agree with this. Unless you have a perennial football power or something, I doubt people are going to mind it being downsized a bit for a feature on a local kid making it big.
  6. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

    I got four paragraphs in on the NFL player after writing 633 words. My four-paragraph advance on Friday's high school football advance also made it.

    More details to come Thursday.
  7. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

    Incidentally, the only school we cover didn't begin playing events until today (Wednesday) -- too late to get that one event in -- so this week's coverage wasn't a factor.
  8. JPsT

    JPsT Member

    Um...what? Does it not have a website? How is posting one extra story online going to add any significant cost?
  9. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

    The website is just used to put a PDF up of the paper.

    It used to be that stories were put up individually on the website by an outside contractor. The more work it did, the more the cost.
  10. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    In other words, we're not talking about a weekly, we're talking about an unusually small weekly. Am I right on that?

    That kind of changes things, though I still don't see why the story wouldn't have run off 1A the way you described the scenario.
  11. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Kill your preps coverage for the week and run the story.
  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Look for a bigger weekly to work at.
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