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!

Summer Article Ideas for small town USA

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Long Snapper, Jan 31, 2016.

  1. Long Snapper

    Long Snapper New Member

    Hey guys I am a freelance sports writer and I recently picked up a freelancing gig for a small company that owns two papers covering four towns. Right now, the job seems simple enough. They haven't had any sports content in probably about two years, so I'm piling up all the feature stories I can on any athlete of note from the area. But right now, my main worry is the summer time.

    I know it's kind of the same anywhere when the bulk of the coverage depends heavily on high school sports. But for those who have worked for a paper in the middle of nowhere, what do you usually cover in the summer? One of the towns has a baseball team with some local D3 guys on it, so that's one I'll probably lean on and that same town might have a legions team. But for the other three towns, it seems like there will be absolutely nothing.

    One thing I was thinking was maybe fishing reports and articles of that nature since there's a few lakes around. This isn't really my forte because in the summer, my main focus is the minors (PawSox) and some summer collegiate ball (Cape Cod League, NECBL, Futures League). I'm just picking up as much work as I can and don't want to leave these guys hanging.

    Let me know if you guys have any suggestions.
  2. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

  3. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I'll bite.
    One of my standing refrains with sports is that, "everything has a season." Football, basketball, baseball, etc. When you're covering football in the fall you won't write too many baseball stories. Summer, at least where we are, is generally the youth/recreational sports season. Try to find some local little leagues that are playing in the LLWS state and regional tournaments (baseball and softball), tennis programs that are pumping out players, AAU basketball and track teams that are gearing up for big summer tournaments, even do updates on high school football teams as they go through their 7-on-7 camps and summer workouts.
    The fishing reports are a good idea. Outdoors stuff engages readers of all ages, and if they submit photos of their catch you can easily fill up some space with those. We accept hunting photos and reader-submitted stories, and we've been flooded with deer pictures all winter. Even spun a few longer stories out of some of the more interesting ones.
    Are any of your local high school guys playing pro or college ball? Those make for good summer features, especially to fill holiday papers. We had a guy in the minors (actually spent a couple of years with the PawSox) that for three years in a row we ran a feature on on July 4, to make sure we had it in the can because of a funky early deadline. It became a running joke between us.
    The minor leagues and Cape Cod ball coverage, I would think, depends on your audience. Is that something people care about, or is it something to do on a boring night? I live near a Double-A team, and it's definitely more of the latter. If that's the case, breathless daily coverage is a waste of time and energy. A brief on last night's game and an occasional feature will work just fine.
    Long Snapper likes this.
  4. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    In my corner of Small Town USA, Little League starts in April and can take you through mid-July, later if any of the teams are successful. With all the levels of baseball and softball, there will probably be at least a half-dozen games every day -- coverage possibilities aplenty! If you establish relationships with the directors of the leagues, you can get a lot of submitted results and photos to compile. There might be teams in quasi-competing leagues like Cal Ripken, and up from there to American Legion.

    There are likely youth swimming leagues, basically any and every sport. Hometown kids could theoretically qualify for bigger events, regionals and nationals and the Olympic Trials.

    Our minor-league baseball report runs weekly in July and August, a feature with photo and a chart showing all the guys' stats.

    Also, depending on your state's rules, there's high school practices and scrimmages all summer.

    I'm not saying readers care about any of these things, but they fill space. :rolleyes:
    Long Snapper likes this.
  5. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    Since you are in the northeast, I think you should cover the Patriots offseason. Hard to top last year though.
    Long Snapper likes this.
  6. Long Snapper

    Long Snapper New Member

    Thanks guys, I really appreciate you taking the time to help out. Really like these suggestions/ideas. Definitely a lot to work with and to answer your question Batman, I think there's a few college baseball players so I'll probably double check on that and get some features on them too

  7. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    If you want to be more ambitious, here are some more in-depth, project, feature ideas that could cover all four towns:

    Is the concussion concern hurting youth football numbers? Is flag football more popular?

    What are the ways teams, schools, leagues raise money? What are most successful? Unique? Fun? Hated? Any gripes? (The high school my son went to raised money chiefly by selling mulch. No one was cut until after that was over. One summer league team associated with a high school would bench players if they didn't sell raffle tickets)

    What sports are most likely to help you get into college or get a scholarship? Ex: Do wrestling or lacrosse look good on a resume even if you aren't going to play those in college? What sports have the best return ratio?

    Talk to local orthopedist about common injuries from sports -- overuse, concussion, breaks, tears. What do they see often and which sports? What do they recommend to avoid and recover?

    If they are unique or interesting at all, maybe a rating of the best football stadiums, gyms, baseball fields in the area. Rated by atmosphere, parking, concessions, restrooms, etc. Let readers vote and share memories.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
    Long Snapper likes this.
  8. Long Snapper

    Long Snapper New Member

    Thanks Ace, I really appreciate the reply. Like these ideas a lot that would encompass the entire area and tackle all sorts of issues

  9. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    Although I have no idea where you live, other than perhaps the Northeast, I would suggest golf coverage.

    The country clubs are unbelievably helpful. There should be plenty of youth and adult tournaments, and possibly a minor pro tournament or two. Golfers are great interviews because they're typically smarter than high school running backs, too.

    I would be stunned if you couldn't find 15-20 golf stories, father-son tournaments, charity tournaments, fundraisers, aspiring young golfers doing very well in their state junior programs and working towards college scholarships, male and female. Even old man tournaments can produce a decent story.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2016
    Ace likes this.
  10. Cosmo

    Cosmo Well-Known Member

    I was about to suggest the same thing, and not just because I work in the golf industry. Check with your state and regional associations to see what championship events are in your area. Most of us have in-house media/communications folks who would be more than happy to help facilitate coverage.
    Long Snapper likes this.
  11. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    Most folks I've dealt with on the fairways, greens and in the clubhouse have bent over backwards to help me. The golfing community appreciates the coverage as much or more than most any other sport.
    Long Snapper likes this.
  12. Mauve_Avenger

    Mauve_Avenger Member

    I would consider covering any large running races in the area (big 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons). A lot of times the winner or top three runners tend to be pretty good athletes and have interesting stories. As stated above, I also use the summer to pursue features.
    Long Snapper likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page