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Remembering why I left the field

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 50 scent, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    Don't know if I agree, Gold. At least from my personal experience, I don't.

    When I was 25, I was a decent, but not great, writer. I looked at major-league gamers, major-college football gamers, columns, and I really wasn't sure if I had that final "turn of a phrase" necessary to be one of the big boys. But I did know I had some design skills. Thus, the decision to move to the desk was more or less a no-brainer for me. It provided the best chance for advancement, and my set of working skills had everything to do with it.
  2. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    In 1995, I would interview for sporte editor jobs and the hiring editors would say, "You're a dandy writer, but you just haven't had enough desk experience."

    In 2002, a hiring editor said, "Your desk skills are fine, but can you write?"

    Whatever. I keep muddling along.
  3. 2underpar

    2underpar Active Member

    seems to me what I hear from a lot of the posts on this particular thread are that many hacks are "too good" to cover youths/preps. There are a lot of folks out there who should check their egos at the door.
    If you are at a smaller paper, and most newspapers in this country are small to mid-size dailys, covering a lot preps-youths comes with the territory. You might not like it, but bitching and whining ain't going to stop you from having to cover it.
    Last time I checked, writing sports beat the hell out of a lot of other professions. And, if you half-ass it for me on the mundane stuff, you probably won't get too many primo assignments, and when you need that reference for your next job, that ain't happening either.
  4. flaming_mo

    flaming_mo Guest

    I'm not "too good" to do anything. But if I had to cover youth sports, I would find another job or another field of employment. That's not arrogance; that's just making life choices.
  5. shotglass

    shotglass Guest

    I think you need to remember that none of us, when we were 16-year-olds, planned to become sportswriters so we could cover other 16-year-olds in a Legion baseball tournament. If we had the dream back then, I'm pretty sure the dream was to be covering something bigger and better. Sure, reality takes over, but don't begrudge people their aspirations.
  6. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    i covered one babe ruth district championship doubleheader, once.

    i showed up with a photographer and the parents were assholes to both of us because we didn't 'put enough youth sports in the paper,' the coaches were assholes for the same reason and the kids all acted as if the paper owed them coverage. they asked for us to throw them a bone, we threw it and they acted like pricks because we did what they asked.

    bottom line: the only people who care about youth sports are the parents, which is a vast minority of readers.
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    what size of papers were you sending resumes to?
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    You're absolutely right, Shottie. But I also think that people in this business -- or any other -- easily seem to forget that there's a limited supply of silver spoons in the cabinet. And chances are, you ain't gettin' one.

    This isn't a criticism, just an observation of the way it seems to be:

    It just seems that most people getting their start in the business, where you're more likely to be getting a prep or youth sports beat, don't realize that if you want to work at a bigger and higher and (ideally) better level, you've got to perform at a better and higher level. I don't know if it's something about a J-school education, or if it's just a skewed sense of entitlement, or a selfish this-is-our-society thing, that makes people think they "deserve" a major metro job before they've even done anything.

    Thing is, our jobs -- and most jobs -- aren't really a turn-the-switch-on kind of thing. If you're going to work hard when you get to cover the Super Bowl, then you really should be working hard when you're covering that prep gamer too. Everybody has their off nights, but the great ones (there's always exceptions) give their best effort on most every assignment. So if your aspirations are high enough to want to work a big beat at a major metro, and that's great, then the best thing you can do to get there is by working hard at whatever beat you're in now. And making connections. And getting lucky. And being in right place/right time. And keeping your eyes/ears open. ... You can't just slack off, slack off, slack off ... then get a big assignment and turn it on. You can't just "so work at the Plain Dealer, dammit." You gotta get there first -- and part of getting there is by kicking ass before you get there.

    I think everyone KNOWS this. But it's gotta be reflected in what you do, too. Meaning ... don't whine about covering youth sports; kick ass in it.
  9. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    that's why ... as i posted on another thread ... there's never a good reason (other than the big bosses telling you to) to COVER a youth game or run league standings, etc., when you're ont he youth sports beat. frankly, it helps perpetuate the idea that people (coughpsychoparentscough) should take youth sports as seriously as a lot of them do. the reality is, the results of a 10-year-old's rec-league game are not important. and if you think they are, you're taking it for more than what it is: kids playing games. no more, no less. ... that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the BEAT seriously. after all, it is your job. ... but let the kids have fun. they can all use more of that.

    If you get any latitude at all from the corner office, take advantage of it and go FIND your stories and spend your time writing those. write features, write profiles, write columns, write enterprise. do not write gamers (and do not rely on kids for quotes); it doesn't do you any good and (most) parents won't bitch as long as you're putting some effort into the coverage ... and finding other ways to, yes, get names into the paper (such as submitted team photos, etc., which you don't have to do much legwork on.) Because that's what local coverage is all about: getting names in the paper. and covering the community.

    but more importantly, if you find and write interesting stories in and about the community -- at least in my experience -- (most) readers will respect and appreciate that. you'll get some grief -- you'll always get some grief in this biz -- but you'll get more out of that youth sports beat and so will the readers.

    and then ... you get to move on to bigger and better. ideally. ;D
  10. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    having just assumed the big chair at my little rag, i'd love to change things to where the individual accomplishments and team scores were secondary when it comes to youth sports. just seems we're making kids grow up too quickly when so much importance is placed on the final score of a little league or junior high game. i like the once-a-week youth sports page idea and the team photo idea but, keeping in mind that seeing little jack or jill in the paper (or just their name) equates to increased single-copy newspaper sales that make a big difference for many, many small papers, how do you handle the team that just won a big tournament (in their eyes) and submits not only the scores but their version of a gamer? also, at our paper, youth football league coaches submit reports that generally were turned into a paragraph per team per game and run once a week simply to fill space and make people happy. we also have regularly run middle school "gamers" from e-mails sent by coaches, as well as freshman and junior varsity games, often with photos because i had the time to stop buy and snap a few shots. at what age/grade do games become true events to cover with staff gamers and photos? i would think parents would rather see a team photo than simply a name on a story but you never know. i'm open to suggestions.
  11. Our paper (approx. 30K circ.) just did a market survey and at the very bottom -- I mean the very bottom -- of a loooong list of topics important to our readers was youth sports.
    That noise you just heard was the skin on my face tearing from the widest smile of my life.

    The biggest problem with youth sports (a**hole parents aside) is there are a million different T-ball, soccer, softball, etc. tournaments in a summer. You cover one in any way, shape or form, and everybody else wants the same.

    Youth sports belong on photo pages in the Lifestyles section.
  12. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    The kids, in my experiences, have been fine to talk to. You have to get them away from their retard parents who want to make the story about them. Yeah, congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Superstar Parents, you managed to produce a kid that overcame the both of you and did something with his life, now let me talk to him while you play with this red ball.

    The problem, of course, is that with rare exceptions (like wisportswriter's), you don't get detailed surveys that detail what people want to see and not want to see. What you get is bosses taking the temperature of the community through the most inaccurate means known to man — the call-ins. If two people complain about lack of U-6 Ladybugs soccer coverage and one person complains about lack of NBA Finals coverage, well, guess what the community wants more of? Good luck explaining to them that people calling in don't represent the readership at large, though.

    In my shop, I'm going to have photographers shoot random baseball and soccer tournaments every week. But even at a weekly paper, don't expect me to pop a boner over your kid's game. Not happening. Even at a place my size, I have a better grasp of what the community wants than you, ya heard?
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