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Tips for getting started with a new paper

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Jay Sherman, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    OK, so the hard part of getting a job is done with. Now I'm trying to acclimate myself as best I can to the paper I'll be working with. What are some getting started tips for those who are about to join a preps beat for a paper?
  2. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Make sure all the stuff on your desk can neatly fit into a box in five minutes or less.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

  4. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Two fine suggestions already, another would be to hit the archives of your new paper and to read as much history on the schools you'll be covering. The more history you know the easier it will be to cover. Also, as long as you aren't covering 70 schools, I'd definitely call all the ADs or football coaches and introduce yourself, or send out a mass e-mail with ways to contact you with breaking news, tips or story ideas.
  5. Pilot

    Pilot Well-Known Member

    <insert obligatory RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN reference here>

    Go around and introduce yourself to all the coaches, principals and ADs. Do a little archives research in the offseason so you know something about each program, then do a little more before each game so you know if the teams have a past.

    One of the hardest things for me in a new market, especially when you have a beat as wide open as "preps" rather than one school or one university, is to find story ideas outside the obvious precede/gamer/follow. Again, research will help ... are there any kids from years past now shining at the next level? Summer is a good time to follow up on their progress (unless they're real badasses, in which case it's probably already been done, or is best saved for the season when they're playing). Localize national stories if you can, that's always an easy way to pick up a few bylines and stay busy. Sometimes I just ask coaches or sources if they have other story ideas until I have enough of a grasp on what's going on to have a steady supply of my own.

    Write a column on your first day explaining what you think is a sport and what you think isn't. Make sure to dwell on why you think some things aren't sports. Be specific.
  6. Mediator

    Mediator Member

    Read your fellow writers and drop them an email if you like something they write. Someone in house might not have gotten your job and a little niceness helps defuse any resentment.
  7. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    My suggestion would be this: Just drive around, get comfortable with the area, perhaps take a drive, in the day-time, to each high school on your beat, or even in your coverage area, get to know the roads, see where the schools are, get familiar with your surroundings.

    It will help you feel like you know your way around a little bit, and is an easy, at-your-own-pace way of helping yourself feel more at home, and comfortable, in your new job.

    The other thing I'd do is to ask for staff members' opinions of who the best preps writer at the paper is, and why. Then, become familiar with that person's work, talk to them about the paper and the job.

    After that, do things as you and your editor see fit when it comes to beat, and start making your own name for yourself. It'll happen.
  8. Lollygaggers

    Lollygaggers Member

    Don't be a jerk. Listen to what everyone tells you, from the oldest desker there to the youngest fellow writer. They all know more about the place than you do. And ask questions.
  9. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    It is kind of like prison, figure out who the toughest guy is at your shop and fight him.
    That's the only way they'll respect you.
  10. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    So I should show up looking like the UMKC mascot? [​IMG]
  11. STLIrish

    STLIrish Active Member

    Buy lunch for whoever had the job before you, if such person is still around, and pick their brain.
    And what Jay suggested. Ideally, you don't so much fight them as hit them in the mouth with a brick. Knock him out cold and show all you're not to be messed with.
  12. lono

    lono Active Member

    Use your eyes and ears a lot more than your mouth.
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