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The Homer Article

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by mike311gd, May 27, 2007.

  1. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    When is a homer article become acceptable?

    I've spoken to many people in and out of the business, current and former editors about this, and no matter what they say, I give the same response: Never.

    I believe in fair, objective reporting, and that means -- to me -- multiple sources from multiple sides (three from winning team, two from losing ... whatever it takes). This hasn't went over well in every office I've worked, but it works for me.

    I even find myself reading other paper's articles from time to time and scanning for differing sources. And when I don't find them, I stop reading. I just find the one-, two-source (one team, of course) to come off as pure laziness. Not to mention, it doesn't give you both sides to the story. ...

    Anyone else?
  2. Eagleboy

    Eagleboy Guest

    I agree that both sides of a story should always be covered in a game. To me, it's kind of a head-scratcher when I string for other papers that only want their local team's coach/players to be quoted in the story, even when the team loses 12-0 or 94-59 or something like that. Sometimes, I understand - quoting the opposing coach in a 10-inch story can be just a crunch of space. But as a reader, I'm interested in what the other side has to say about a key play as well.
  3. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    It has to do with space and readers. A 10-inch gamer doesn't allow for a lot of quotes, let alone from both sides. Also, if one school is out of the paper's coverage area, most readers don't care what the other coach said. When two teams from the coverage area play one another, then you'll oftentimes see quotes from both coaches, but again space can be a factor. A 12 or 15-inch gamer allows more room for quotes from both sides, while if you're limited to 10 inches, there really isn't enough room for both coaches to speak.
  4. To me, there is a difference between a "homer article" and an article that focuses solely on one team.
    I try to give our readers what I think they care about most of the time. That tends to be more about the local team than the opposition.
    That doesn't mean I am a homer. In fact, most people in this area would tell you I'm too hard on their teams, but I usually tell most of the story about the locals.
  5. FishHack76

    FishHack76 Active Member

    Personally, I'll get a quote from both coaches if they're both from the area - obviously. I will get one from both if the local team gets blown out. I think that would definitely be a head scratcher not to. Otherwise, you're going to have one good quote. "We tried hard, but the kids just came up short today," said Brock Landers, whose team drops to 0-35.
    If it's the local team with a big win, I'd just get the local team. What is the out-of-area coach going to say? What is any coach going to say after a bad loss? The problem with sports quotes many times is they can all sound the same.
    Hell, I feel I can write better than most coaches can speak. My point is that if you're heavy on the quotes, you're not leaving much room for anything else - color, analysis, the why and the how, etc - the stuff that makes a game story good and/or great.
    There's nothing worse than what I call a fire escape story. After the lede and the who, what, where and when .. it's deck, quote, deck, quote, deck, quote, deck, quote, deck, quote until the writer gets out of the story as if it were a burning building. I usually can't read those kinds of stories even if they have quotes from both coaches.
    I think this is like any set of rules. Sometimes you can bend them and sometimes you can break them. It depends on the situation.
    I think a lot of it definitely depends on the room, and, with thinner web widths and shrinking space, it's more precious. So why waste it on Coach Joe Blow from Bumblefuck High when you work for the Shitown Gazette.
    In certain areas of this great country - especially smaller towns and sometimes big suburban areas, Shitown readers want to know about Shitown, not Bumblefuck. They don't live in Bumblefuck. I've had readers tell me that. Like it or not, that's the readership in some places, and with people going elsewhere, there's obviously pressure to please that or hell, any segment of the waning readership.
    I think whether you go for the out-of-town coach depends on deadline too. If you have 15 minutes to file a football gamer, and it's a 42-0 blowout and the Bumblefuck coach has his players holed up in the locker room for an hour due to a screaming fit, you're obviously going to blow deadline.
    Also, another big problem is coaches and players tend to run off (I've found out this spring that soccer teams are really, really, really bad about that.) so you have to get your people first before they hit the road or you're left with nothing. Sometimes by the time you get the local coach and sprint to the team bus - where the girl who scored the game-winning goal has to crawl all the way out from the back seat, the other team is long gone.
    Not to threadjack, but I once interviewed at a place where they didn't quote the high school athletes - only the coaches.
    To me, not getting an athlete quote in the paper is worse most of the time than not getting both coaches. They actually played in the game. Also, the coach isn't going to look back in a 20-year career and remember some interview after a random game. The kid who had the game-winning hit will remember and will save the story.
  6. In Cold Blood

    In Cold Blood Member

    Write for your audience.

    It's something I'm struggling to adapt to now... the last paper I worked for had roughly 40 schools in the coverage area, so almost every game involved two "local" teams, so I'd try to grab quotes from as many sources on both sides as possible. (although I'll echo the frustration of teams running to the bus and disappearing after the game.)

    Now, I'm at a paper with only a handful of high schools in the area - more often than not, my gamers involve a local team playing a team well outside our small coverage area... Usually I'll grab both coaches and a couple players from the local team. If Joe Blow from the non-local team happens to hit three grand slams in one game or score 86 points, I'll grab a quote from him as well. But generally, the people who read the paper care about what the people from the local school have to say - so I'll focus on that.
  7. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    mike311gd: Either you are writing 25-inch gamers or your game stories are just a bunch of quotes. Jesus H. Christ, I can't fathom interviewing that many people unless I had at least a 20-25 inch hole.
  8. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    wow - if mike worked at my shop, i think i'd ask him if he wanted to go for a ride.

    come up for a breath of air there hemmingway.
  9. That's probably the best advice anyone can give on this thread. I don't think you need five sources for your story to be fair and objective. Personally, I feel that unless you're writing an investigative piece that benefits from as many voices as possible, you should keep it to a minimum. In practice that's usually the home team coach and a home team player. If visiting coach does something interesting strategically or visiting player rushes for 300 yards then, yeah, maybe I'll drop in a quote or two from them. But I think you're going overboard.
  10. Some Guy

    Some Guy Active Member

    I think it's always wise to at least talk to someone from both sides, if possible. This isn't always possible when you're dealing with preps, though.

    Where I live, all the schools play at one central stadium ... they bus there for every game. The coaches are under orders to get the kids back on the buses ASAP after the game. They don't shower, change, or anything. They shake hands and run off. So you usually have to decide which team is more important to talk to, because that's the only one you will be able to catch.

    At bigger, college and pro events, it's easier to get quotes from both sides, even if one side comes just from a quote sheet. However, if I'm crunched for space and the quotes are crappy, I'm not going to wedge them in there just to. My space is precious, especially in the era of a shrinking news hole. I'm not going to waste any on an uninteresting quote.
  11. Meat Loaf

    Meat Loaf Guest

    At minimum, one player from each team will be quoted. I'll talk to both coaches for various info. Whether I quote them or not depends on the kind of coach-speak I get. With the final deadline at 11:30, I don't have time to bullshit and ask a question multiple ways and hope for a good quote.

    Anyway, I was once told that I shouldn't bother talking to people from outside our circulation area. The thought being: fuck 'em, they don't subscribe and our readers don't give a shit about what they have to say. No joke.
  12. PopeDirkBenedict

    PopeDirkBenedict Active Member

    Unless on a very tight deadline, I always try to get stuff from both coaches. You want the best quotes, period. If Johnny runs for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns, the other coach is a much better bet to give you a good quote. His coach is worried about Johnny gettting a big head, how having Johnny played up will affect the team, how much bitching he is going to hear from Johnny's parents in the future, etc. The opposing coach has none of those worries and is much more likely to say something like, "We couldn't tackle Johnny if we tried," East Bumblefuck coach Bear Bryant said. "We would have the perfect defense called and our linebackers would come up and that kid just bounced right off them."

    If the game features an out-of-area team, try to take a chance with their coach or some of their players. If none of the quotes are any good, then you won't feel obligated to include them. But if they are good, they can really add to the story.
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