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wanting to revamp a section

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by welch10, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. welch10

    welch10 New Member

    In the past, I feel that some communities have become used to failures when it comes to the sports section. With two young guys at the reins, how do you revamp a section to fit today's society at a paper that focuses on local sports?
  2. Paynendearse

    Paynendearse Member

    Admit failure from the outset.
  3. 29

    29 New Member

    need particulars — how many pages do you get? 7 day daily? proximity to colleges/pros?
  4. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Disagree. There is always the potential for improvement.

    I would suggest you determine what you want your focus to be. Preps? Colleges? Individual or outdoor sports? Are you going to go heavy on features? Gotta have a gameplan first.
  5. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Ask yourself what works for your readers and what doesn't. Identify your desired changes based on their needs over what you think is cool.

    Then take two steps back and ask yourself if you have the staff/resources/energy to sustain the changes day in and day out.

    Then get buy-in from your bosses. If you make changes and they either don't know about it or don't like it, your efforts will be for naught.

    Good luck.
  6. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    if it's preps heavy, sit down with the area high school coaches and ADs to talk about what they can do to get scores in to you in a timely manner and submitting things like season stats which you can use as part of a weekly "area leaders" package. Stats can also give you ideas for features. You see that a freshman is his team's leading rusher in football or that Johnny from East Podunk and Joey from West Podunk are tied for the area lead in scoring and, hey, they play each other next. Most coaches I've worked with have been inclined to help.
    judging by you saying that two young people are at the reigns, can we assume that it's a two-man shop?
  7. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Member

    I look at my old paper daily, and with deadlines getting earlier and earlier every season, I think if I were still stuck there I would approach the situation in a completely different manner than the current SE is. In other words, leave the gamers for the web that night, and since they are always two days late now, those gamers would go on a newly designed "Gamespot" or "Fields of Play" or "Whatever Lame Name" Page 2, leaving the front for preview stories, features, and/or analysis.

    If I were still there - and honestly, even in my last year or two there 4 years ago, I should've been doing this - I'd start to move away from the gamer as the centerpiece. I'm talking about a 6-day, 10K A.M. paper, but I actually think if you moved late gamers inside, it would be a better, and certainly a more viable, product.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I disagree with taking a feature approach -- it robs a section of drama, and live action photos are what people want to see. Now that I have nothing to do with high school sports coverage (at my paper, it is a separate animal) and no more involvement with college and pro sports than I have with news or biz or features, it would have to be one hell of high school sports feature -- and I mean a topic I haven't seen before -- to get me to read it. But I was interested in reading the gamers in the state's largest paper about my little high school winning boys and girls basketball league titles in the past week, and I look forward to reading about the wrestling team going a lot further than that.
  9. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    I agree with that. As a desk editor, I've read far too many features on high school athletes that really didn't tell me anything interesting at all. So the kid is good at a sport? Big deal. Too many writers are afraid to tackle anything remotely controversial when it comes to preps or amateurs. As a result, it's a lot of fluff.

    But, on the other hand, as an average Joe reader with no kids in the school, I really am not interested in reading 20 inches (and 20 more inches of agate) on a prep track meet, either. When I pass through a town, pick up a newspaper and see that, my first thought is "small time".
  10. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Member

    I don't mean every centerpiece has to be a feature. But do more than a play-by-play gamer. Tell me WHY Podunk won, what Podunk did differently, what Shelbyville will try to do this time.

    If the gamer model works - deadlines capable of supporting gamer coverage - then fine, run with the gamers. But so many small local dailies are in bed before the 4th quarter of the boys varsity game starts. I sure as hell won't read that story 36 hours later. So tell me why Podunk won, and let's look ahead to the next one.
  11. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Good point. I'm of the belief people don't read gamers nearly as much as they used to. Most of the ones I do read --- whether preps or pros --- are pretty bland. And the deadline situation certainly hasn't helped.

    I've said before that I believe if newspapers are to stay relevant, they have to become what magazines used to be: features, enterprise, previews, etc. TV and internet have taken over the realm of breaking news.

    One place I worked, we used to put our stories on the web just after the print deadline. I was often the one doing that job and it was usually around midnight, sometimes earlier if I finished the pages earlier and had time. So I wondered "what possible incentive is there for someone to buy the print edition 8 hours later when they can log on now and read all the local stuff for free?"
  12. welch10

    welch10 New Member

    Yes there are just two of us. We have three high schools that we cover and, unfortunately, have contracted writers cover a local D2 school plus WVU. We can pitch in secondary coverage of the D2 school but since we spend most of our focus on high school, we miss some important things in that area.

    The paper is a 7 day a week paper serving under 15k. Gamers are generally the centerpiece but we strive to go beyond the box score in our gamers.

    Love all of the ideas generated here, guys.
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