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Smalltown college

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by PirateSports, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. PirateSports

    PirateSports Member

    I was hoping to get some opinions about a situation that I'm in...
    I work at a paper that publishes three times a week (1-man, do-it-all sports section, and also serve as associate editor), and I have a small college in my coverage area. I have limited space, usually one full page and a half-page jump. In my coverage area, I have a handful of high schools that all draw big-time for sporting events...usually 6-8,000 for football, anywhere from 1,000-2,000 for basketball and several hundred for baseball.
    Needless to say the passion for high school athletics is high, while the interest in the college is well...not the best. All that being said, I staff what is of the most interest to my community, so I go to the high school sporting events and use the college's SID releases in every issue. I don't always have room for every release, but I devote at least 20 inches for the releases in nearly every issue. If I've got the time, I go take a couple of pictures at college sporting events or I use pictures given to me by the athletic department when space permits.
    Now...the college is up in arms about the lack of coverage and I've had to defend my newspaper's philosophy repeatedly. My feeling is that when you're understaffed like we are, you maximize your resources, and the SID is a great resource.
    I do what I can, but like most of us I guess, I'm underpaid, way overworked and underappreciated...but such is life.
    I'm looking for opinions if I'm on the right track of thinking here that I need to be where there's interest from my community and where there is no one skilled to write stories or take pictures, as opposed to, in essence, double-staffing events.
  2. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Is this a full time job? That makes a huge difference. If this is a full time job you should not have trouble filling out 4.5 pages per week. That includes editing and writing. If it isn't than I can understand.
  3. PirateSports

    PirateSports Member

    Definitely full-time and more...filling up space is not the issue. I always have plenty of copy for 3-4 pages per issue with just high school coverage (without SID releases), but the newspaper doesn't have the space to give me that many pages. I can sometimes get that if I ask very nicely weeks in advance and let the ad people know to sell up the sports section.
    It's a PM paper and between my time in the office taking care of the sports section and helping with news, and being at games at night, I'm typically a little over 40 hours a week.
    Not to sounds overly arrogant, but I think I'm well-liked in the community, and I think a lot of that has to do with my newspaper's focus on the high school kids.
    My concern is, professionally am I doing the right thing by going heavy with prep coverage and relying on the SIDs to provide me with college coverage?
  4. Rumpleforeskin

    Rumpleforeskin Active Member

    So, those scallywags are trying to have a mutiny on your ship?

    In all seriousness, I would try to find a decent ratio between the two, if not 75 (preps)/25 (college). Get out to one college game a week, write a story about it and then fill the rest of the days with prep coverage, as you have been. Unless there's a huge rivalry game coming up, I would stick toward that model, if nothing else.
  5. FuturaBold

    FuturaBold Member

    I think you're doing it the right way -- if I were in your shoes, I'd let the SID releases suffice for the college game coverage and focus my writing about the college on features/profiles/advances of big games, etc.

    Your readers may not have as much of a connection with the college because a majority of the kids aren't from that area. But surely there are some athletes at the college with neat stories to tell that your readers would appreciate... hope that makes sense...
  6. micke77

    micke77 Member

    You are right going heavy on the high school sports, but I think it would be good to try and get a feature done on your local college a couple of times a month..maybe a nice, long feature of some type...anything that can show that you are relying on more than just the SIDs. because --just my opinion--it gets to where you are running just "fluff" stuff from the local college.
    i'd just try and make an effort there and do the best you can under what sounds like major cramped-for-time issues.
  7. partain

    partain Member

    I worked in a similar situation in Texas and the high schools had to come first. Even the small ones on the outskirts of our coverage area got at least equal coverage (if not better) than the college. But they drew more people and involved local kids. Football game days even overlapped at times and the main high school drew 15,000 or more while the college drew maybe 3,000.

    You do what you can, and that'll have to be good enough. In my case I could have dropped the college coverage all together and I might have gotten two phone calls from people other than the athletic department.
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