1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Rules To Report By

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pete Incaviglia, Mar 22, 2009.

  1. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    Not sure if it's been done before, but what are some of the rules you (and most of should) try to live by when reporting. I'll start.

    1) A minimum of three sources

    2) For a gamer, one active voice from the losing team

    3) Despite the changing nature of a game story (i.e. more angled and feature-ish) the score still appears in the first three paragraphs

    4) Never start a sentence with the word "the" — a friend told me that; I'm not sure why, but I like it.

    Anyone else have things they do or suggestions that we all should do?
  2. No partial score before the final score (i.e. "The Badgers led 36-32 at halftime before pulling away for a 68-56 victory.")

    In attribution, name first, then "said" (i.e. "Hughes said," not, "said Hughes.")

    The exceptions to the last rule are first references: i.e. "said Kansas coach Bill Self" and an attribution with some more information tacked on, i.e., "said Warner, who has quarterbacked two franchises to NFC championships.")
  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Way too many rules, Pete. Of your four, I have never applied one nor preached any of them to our younger writers in 40 years in the business.

    Waylon's two rules are ones that really matter to me...No score before the final score and Joe Schmoe said...said, said, said, nothing other than said except on rare occasions
  4. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    I can't imagine why you'd never start a sentence with the.
  5. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I can't say I agree completely with any of those, Pete.

    Sometimes, one or two sources will do, depending on the story. And I've never subscribed to the theory that the score HAS to go in the first three grafs.
  6. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    As W.C. Heinz could tell you.

    I agree on the partial before final score rule.

    I've become really lax over the years on "said Jones" vs. "Jones said." But I agree, always "said."

    Don't agree on the three sources thing; I'm very much in the "depends on the sources" school of thought.

    Not sure where the "don't start a sentence with 'the' thing" comes from.

    And finally, the loser's voice thing depends on A) what your role is (beat writer for one team, or covering the game equally for both sides) and what your deadline situation is.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    I disagree with Name said. If you're throwing in a clause like, "said Jones, who hit 14 of his 19 points in the final quarter." it doesn't work the other way.
  8. trench

    trench Member

    Not bad ideals, but I don't know about rules. I've had to write plenty of gamers in my day with nothing more than a 7-inch hole, and that's including a drop head. No way to get quotes from 3 people in a hole that small. Good writer once told me never to put a qualifier in a lead (i.e. - don't write "Jones High coach John Smith" in your lead when you can simplify for the reader with just John Smith, then come back with "the Jones High coach" in your second graf or as attribution in the lead quote. Just makes for smoother reading.
  9. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    This thread could go on for days, and I'm sure it will. However, most rules -- not all, but most -- have an exception.
  10. OnTheRiver

    OnTheRiver Active Member

    Don't get your sex where you get your checks.
  11. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    On a pro beat on an AM deadline, you'll almost never get to the other team's locker room. Ideally you would, but it just isn't going to happen.

    The only one I'd agree with is score in the first three graphs.

    One I'd add is that if you're going to rip the shit out of an athlete or coach, you need to show up at the next opportunity so that person can yell at you. Can't play rip-and-run. We had a series of monthly seminars at one paper where a staffer would talk about a subject so the rest of the staff could learn. A since-retired sports columnist made a big deal out of that point. And you know what -- I kept looking for him to skip it sometime, and to my knowledge he never did. It was a matter of honor for him, and his behavior enhanced respect for sports writing among teams in that market, IMO.
  12. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    I'd like to second this.

    Oh, and if your desk tells you 12 inches, don't write 16.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page