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Seeking weekly prep football ideas

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Bob Smith, Sep 22, 2013.

  1. Bob Smith

    Bob Smith Member

    Left newspapers behind and am working for a prep sports web site that covers only football in the fall. The bulk of the area's games are naturally on Friday night with some on Saturday and Thursday. Beginning on, say, Sunday what types of stories/notebooks etc. would you present to readers ... if you were to run something different each day? Anything that's been especially popular in your section or on your web site?
  2. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Five Things We Learned Last Week is always a popular sort of thing.

    But most weekly high school coverage suffers too much from looking back and rehashing and doesn't do nearly enough looking ahead. By Monday, you should be turning your attention to hyping the next week's games.
  3. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    This is a good approach. One of the few things I enjoyed about prep coverage was mid-week stuff during the playoffs. During the regular season there were other sports to be covering, but by playoff time you could do a deeper dive on the upcoming games. It was especially effective if your local teams were going to play against a team from outside the coverage area, because you could do something that helped to familiarize your readers with the upcoming opponents.

    For a football-specific site, you can be doing all sorts of stuff on the upcoming games -- profiles on players, breaking down matchups, histories of previous meetings between the teams, which may help draw in readers who don't necessarily care about the current players. Find the best angle out of each game in your area and do a story or two per day. Plenty of routes to go when you don't have to worry about space or about covering anything else.
  4. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    Depending on how your state handles the postseason, a 'playoff picture' breakdown would be good the last few weeks of the regular season.
  5. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    I think you know some of the basics.

    In my experience, a statewide roundup, especially focusing on teams your teams could see in the playoffs, is a good thing.

    Also, early on is a good time to look at out-of-the-area opponents, especially for your top teams.

    "This Week X Years Ago" might work, too.

    You can prep for a lot of this by getting notebook stuff from people who cover games.

    One of my favorite questions was about opposing linemen ("That 66, he's one rough sonovabitch."). You can build up a piece on linemen that way.
  6. Dog8Cats

    Dog8Cats Active Member

    Aggregate links to other online publications' coverage of high school football -- in your coverage area or outside it.

    Study your traffic numbers. You might find that weekend visitors are disappointingly low. If that's the case, make sure your best stuff -- gamer or video from Friday's schedule, for example -- is accessible to viewers who would rather cruise your site than do their jobs during their workday.

    Consumers luv them sum power rankings.

    Do you know where top recruits (if any) visited the previous weekend? Where are they going this week?

    Revisit a noteworthy player from this week's "big game" of 10 years prior.

    Shit like that. It ain't that hard. Just got to think a little bit.
  7. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    Stats. Stats. Stats.

    Coaches will break down their films on Saturday or Sunday. Defensive leaders, while they're bullshit because everybody credits what is exactly a tackle differently, are good too. Most papers ignore them, but if you're a website and you're looking for traffic, think about how many names you'll get into that one page. Those kids will go there to see where they rank in the area. Their parents, grandparents .... stats will draw.

    After a few weeks, most coaches will send them in without you calling. Others you'll have to hound the piss out of them, but just drop "well, if you could emphasize to your coach to send them in ..." then they'll do it just to get the parents off their ass.

    I completely agree with Dog8Cats. Digging up stuff works.

    Five or six years ago, I locked myself in the microfilm room for about four hours with my laptop. Went week by week for 25 and 50 years ago. I was able to copy and paste five and 10 years ago out of our archive.

    I'd take a couple of minutes and find which game I was gonna feature. Read it and write up a two- or three-paragraph synopsis. Then I'd find a good graph and maybe a quote and type that word for word under the heading "What they wrote."

    Made it a standing feature tucked away for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's paper. I used to stop and get a biscuit on my early day into work. There's always a bunch of older people in there sitting around talking, drinking coffee, and I can't tell you how cool it was when they'd be talking about that game that was in the paper. To eavesdrop for a minute and listen to them was neat.

    People love to walk down memory lane and breaking up the years like that draws in different demographics -- those 5s and 10s, who aren't exactly reading the paper on a regular basis.
  8. Schottey

    Schottey Member

    I would ask the parents to submit story ideas to an email address created specifically for this sort of thing. You're going to get a TON of moms and dads pretending their little Johnny is the best thing since sliced bread, but you might also get some great profile ideas—kids going through hard times, teams rallying around a cause, etc.

    Embrace the Xs and Os. Have the coordinators or head coaches break down the specifics of their offense. Obviously, in-season, they're not going to divulge game plan stuff, but they shouldn't have a problem discoursing on the merits of the Wing-T or whatever they're running.
  9. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    We pick out three to five players from our local teams and put them up on the website for a poll to have readers choose the player of the week. It does good things for our web traffic, and appears to be popular.
  10. I'll never tell

    I'll never tell Active Member

    While I agree it's an excellent way to drive traffic, I feel bad for the kids, because at that point it becomes nothing more than a popularity contest. That being said, I've seen that approach used at a paper as to how they selected the game of the week, meaning who the top prep writer would cover that Friday night.

    They'd lock the team out for something like three weeks after they won. In a way you could help gauge where your most readership is. But just in a way. Again, it was a popularity contest, but at that point you'd know in a few weeks, where the top three or four areas of most engaged readership.
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