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Smalltown SEs and sportswriters - what drives you?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by UNCGrad, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Member

    The youth baseball thread got me to thinking about this a bit, because staring at another summer of covering youth baseball was really the final straw that forced me out of the Smalltown SE life.

    I was a Podunk SE for two dailies for about 12 years before getting out four years ago. I've been fortunate and have now found two jobs since I've been thrilled about going to every day. I've been lucky to get out on my own terms and to do reasonably well since. I'm thankful.

    But I won't lie - the last 12-18 months of being a small town daily sports editor (10K, a.m., 6 days) I had lost the passion for it. Being passed over for a couple of bigger paper jobs in that period contributed to it, but I was actively looking at job sites every day during that period as well. I was tired of prep sports, of the same unreasonable parents and the thoughts of covering the brothers and sisters of the kids I had already. I was early 30s and felt like I was going nowhere, and really, after no pay increases in the last four years there, I really was going nowhere.

    I don't miss it, but probably because I was unhappy those last months. So I wonder, for those out there who have or have had a similar newspaper background, what still drives you today? Where is your passion? What fuels you?

    I mentioned the youth baseball thread, and noticed the post of finding the joy in youth baseball if you are willing to look for it. The photos were great and should be what it was all about. And so maybe it was entirely an ego thing for me, but I lost that joy and passion. Sure, I could still write what felt like a satisfying column or gamer, but in the end, it just felt so small, petty and insignificant in the long run that it drove me out.

    So what drives you?
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Love of sports + Love of writing + Love of photography = the drive.
  3. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    If I was still one, it would be this: Paying my rent.
  4. SFIND

    SFIND Active Member

    I haven't been at it as long as any of you, but I'm approaching a full decade in the business. I guess the answer for me is the adrenaline rush I (still) get. I get a huge rush covering close games, banging out a gamer, and having a story up within hours of a game's completion with my byline and photo credits (and video now to). I get a rush from getting good feature stories (and breaking news) the larger paper in the market doesn't. That competitive drive -- beating others to the story -- is something that still gets me excited.

    But I don't get much of a rush sitting the office staring at a computer for hours on end or sitting through pointless staff meetings. Both are becoming more frequent. And I don't get much of a rush covering blowouts and bad teams filled with players who don't care. That's becoming more frequent too.
  5. Still walking the sidelines on a Football Friday Night or being at a big basketball game is a thrill. I recently covered my first state championship team, which was also fun.

    I work my tail off, so I enjoy a lot of support in the community from reasonable folks. You're always going to have your cranks and people who don't get basic math that you can't be everywhere at once or do everything at once.

    As for youth sports, we simply have no time. Our youth baseball season starts at the end of April and conflicts with HS sports for six weeks. It wraps up 2-3 weeks after HS sports, but I'm usually on vacation for a good chunk of that time.

    The pay sucks and there feels like there is no hope for our industry, which is depressing, but I do my job to serve the community and not corporate.
  6. Morris816

    Morris816 Member

    At the paper I worked at for 14 years, before it shut down (that's a story for another thread), what drove me was the thrill of watching close games, developing relationships with people in the communities, learning about some of the unique stories that can be uncovered in smaller towns and, in particular, watching the kids grow up before your eyes.

    When you spend a lot of years in a smaller community, you get to know a lot of families and their kids and see them get older. Those kids then know you pretty well and don't just see you as the person who writes sports stories, but someone who they consider a part of their lives.

    The pay at that job wasn't the greatest, but it did allow me to live comfortably and to ultimately buy a house. The paper was a twice-weekly, so the work schedule was more laid back, plus it was locally owned, so you didn't have to worry about a corporate hierarchy.

    When the paper shut down and I took another job, I found myself in corporate hierarchy in a five-day-a-week publication and just couldn't take it, even though I was making a little more money. I was fortunate to find a job at another weekly, especially because I was offered more than what I was making at the five-day-a-week paper, and now I'm back into a situation in which it's far more likely I will have evenings to myself or time to relax on the weekend.

    With all that said, I understand that working at weeklies isn't for everyone, especially if you aren't a bachelor like I am. But I will say this: What really makes the situation worth it is when you work alongside good people, have a publisher that praises you for a job well done (which I got at that twice-weekly and am getting now, just weeks into my new job) and you don't have to worry about somebody micromanaging at every turn (as often happens in the corporate world).

    I know there are those that grow tired of covering prep sports and summer baseball, and that's understandable. But it sure is easier to do those things when you work alongside good people and don't have to put up with corporate mentality.
  7. Craig Sagers Tailor

    Craig Sagers Tailor Active Member

    I've worked in Newspapers for 6 years now and the day-to-day monotony of laying out pages and doing something work-related every day has worn on me, but the last straw was when a company came in during the winter and laid a bunch of people off (including our third sports guy), took away vacation and increased insurance premiums. The helplessness of it was overwhelming and its happening at places all over the country.

    Our section is usually well-received in our area and I take pride in that. I'll miss being able to look at the special football and basketball sections we've done, even though they're a huge undertaking and very taxing to compile.

    In a few weeks I'll start a job at a content company and there's some alluring things about it (9-5 workdays Monday thru Friday, Holidays off, more stable industry) but I expect I'll miss being around sports and being able to create.
  8. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Member

    Costing kids a chance at a scholarship ... :)
  9. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    Game. Set. Match.
  10. Johnny Chase

    Johnny Chase Member

    The only thing driving me is knowing it's easier to get a new job when I'm currently employed.
  11. Den1983

    Den1983 Active Member

    A lot of truth to this. No matter where you're working, or who you're writing and/or editing for, it beats the hell out of sitting at home refreshing the jobs forum on this board every day.
  12. PirateSports

    PirateSports Member

    What drives me as a smalltown SE (bi-weekly, 8K circ. in my hometown in NC) is still the same after about 10 years. I get to be around good kids, see them do great things in sports they love and be an important and respected part of my hometown. My publisher/owner's office is three doors down the hall and his main priority is putting out a tremendous product for the community. He gives me the tools to do the job the right way (brand new IMac, Macbook, IPad, IPhone and Nikon DSLR), trusts me enough to let me do my job without interference, and doesn't allow me to spend so much time at work that I neglect my wife and kids.
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