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The relevance of the classic game story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DennisReynolds, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. DennisReynolds

    DennisReynolds New Member

    Saw this today and thought it might make for an interesting topic of discussion: http://thebiglead.com/index.php/2010/03/03/why-do-newspapers-remain-slaves-to-the-game-story-and-boring-quotes/

    The author is basically saying there's no need for your typical game story now, especially with your typical cliched quotes from athletes, in today's world. I assume he's talking about pro sports coverage, which is a distinction that I think has to be made. If you're writing about preps or small colleges, you need the game story because there was probably no TV coverage and you might be the only source of info about what happened.

    Even though gamers can trend toward the formulaic side, especially under deadline (and I've written plenty myself), I disagree with the premise that newspapers should do away with them. For example, if the coach makes a critical strategic decision, people want to know what went into it. You need the quote, and that's part of the story.There are plenty of good game stories that help put a game in the proper context or provide insight, even if quotes often don't help with that.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of bad or at least boring ones too, and as the author said, people who already saw the game and got a quick-hit reaction on a blog might not bother to read it. What do you all think?
  2. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    At my first paper, we used AP for gamers for UK and used staff stuff for the sidebars (on things like the key coaching decision, etc.) and columns. I think that's a better way to go, especially by editing down the wire gamer.
  3. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    We're weeklies so we typically shy away from game stories but, for some odd reason, our readers complain if we don't have them. So, usually, we'll go to a game, write a quasi-gamer, quasi-feature that takes more about what what happened means vs. just the nuts and bolts play by play.

    And I disagree that you can't write anything but a strict by-the-numbers gamer on deadline. I've had 30 minutes to write a 700 word story and have often done away with strict PBP anyway.
  4. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Jason Fry offered a more thoughtful take on this ... http://sportsjournalism.org/sports-media-news/let’s-reinvent-the-game-story/

    There is no one-size-fits-all decision on this. You've got to know your market.
  5. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    There's never been a need for crappy game stories.

    Good ones? Different issue. I see a lot of people who have adapted and write useful stories off the games.
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    IMO, the idea of the game story is to capture the essence of the game in the lede, and then expound on that concept, whatever it might be. A two-hit shutout is obvious. Many games are less so, and call for creativity.
    Look the beat writer's job has become a 24/7 nightmare due to technology -- blogs, tweets, etc. Writing the gamer is about the only creative work the poor guy or gal gets.
    There is also the fact that your customers are used to a gamer and a headline which tells them if team A won or lost. When you take things out of a paper, you take customers out, too. Always.
  7. tmr

    tmr Member

    I think the straight game story is one of MLB.com's biggest editorial strengths. It's very helpful for research purposes for a reporter, and I imagine a die-hard reader.

    I wouldn't go by a Big Lead writer's advice there. There wasn't much original thought in that post, just a "us against them" mentality. He's not writing about weekly or small dailies, and most big-city, big-beat writer will eschew the traditional game stuff when something big is going on, experienced baseball writers especially.

    And not every quote is "we played good today," as we all know, when you ask specific questions about situations. I bet if the writer actually looked for good game stories,ones that don't rely on the p-b-p, he'd find more than he thinks.
  8. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Fair point. But it seems to me, as in IJAG's example, that the idea is to replace the gamer with more valuable content and better utilize your own staff for more creative work.

    Yet I still think there's room for a well-written gamer. Buster Olney used to write terrific, insightful gamers for the NY Times, which I enjoyed much more than any of the commentary he's doing for ESPN these days (although the links are helpful).
  9. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Big Lead says newspaper reporting is for old dying people, sun rises in the east.
  10. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    What's more useless, the straight gamer or the 184th thread on SportsJournalists.com about the uselessness of the straight gamer?
  11. DennisReynolds

    DennisReynolds New Member

    Coming at it from the perspective of a fan, I know if I attend a game, I like to then check out the gamer afterward, just to get what I witnessed put in perspective. The good writers will tell you something you didn't know or present it in a new light.
  12. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Gamers that are longer than 10 inches now are a waste of space.
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